Who and What is Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Cycling?

It all started in the fall of 2009 with the idea of having youth cycle from Maine to Florida. People thought we were crazy. I thought it was crazy! So, in order to prove we weren’t we needed a pilot. That’s when we enticed 7 high school students to ride 60 miles around the town of Edenton, NC during CycleNC’s Spring Ride. To our delight, they loved it. Their only concern, “Why were all those old people able to pass us?” Out of that pilot Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Cycling was born.

Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Cycling is a program of Triangle Bikeworks, a Chapel Hill, NC-based non-profit that introduces youth from under-served households to cross country cycling, history and service. Their first cross country tour was traveling the Underground Railroad from Mobile, AL to Buffalo, NY. Winding their way through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania before the final ride on the bike trails of Buffalo, NY and taking in the sights at Niagara Falls. The days were hot in the beginning, as you could imagine. There was no lack of emphasis on hydration and establishing better eating habits. One youth stowed away Little Debbie snack cakes as a food source.

It was toward the middle of the tour that we began to realize that it was more than just a bike ride; so much more. We were able to witness a metamorphosis in the youth. Don’t get me wrong, they were still teens, but there were subtle changes in them. Subtleties like eating a salad at dinner (yes, that small). To a boost of honest pride from learning the seldom taught history of Brices Crossroads where Negro soldiers successfully defended Union troops as they escaped the onslaught of an overwhelming Confederate army led by Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest on the very ground the act was performed. They were shown the rise on the horizon that the Federal Army saw as they crested the hills. They were shown the foxholes where the Colored Troops lay and defended the retreating army.

Brices Crossroads Battle Map

At the Battle of Brices Cross Roads, half of the 223 Union soldiers that were reported as killed belonged to Bouton’s Brigade of United States Colored Troops. Most served in the 55th and 59th USCT.

The youth are also proud of the fact that they are able to travel by their own means across great distances, learn interesting things about history, and meet new people in different communities.

So, we’re this crazy nonprofit that decided to break down the “cost of cycling barriers” and give opportunities to youth that others pay thousands for. One could say the reason the price is so high is because the experiences obtained are live evolving. Transformative.

At Triangle Bikeworks we have this wild belief that all youth should have the opportunity to develop physically, socially, and academically to their full potential, regardless of their background, resources, and socioeconomic standing. Our mission has always been to use the bicycle as an entry point that engages under-served youth in the community. We put them in outdoor activities through programs and events focused on a growth mindset that will provide them opportunities to discover their true potential.

A single goal: To transform lives, One revolution at a time.

A Golden Moment At The End Of The Day

I think there’s a fine line between being busy, extremely busy and procrastinating to the point that your amazingly busy. I don’t quite know where the lines converge and I cross into the various realms but often times I do.

On Tuesday afternoon at around 4:30pm I had the opportunity to deliver the last 9 small bikes to the Global Scholars Academy in Durham to Brian King, the PE teacher for the school. It was expected to be a less than fanfare moment where I just delivered the bikes and continued on with my day.

As it turned out, Triangle Bikeworks had a few bikes left over from a donation we received in August of last year. These were 20″ bikes and bikes with training wheels. Our organization can’t use them because our youth demographic is much older. By December of last year I was successful in donating 65 various sized bikes to the Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a giveaway for their fall and Christmas campaign. At the time I was delivering to adult administrators who were excited and grateful for the opportunity to get the bikes. We both believed that we were in the position to give the gift of freedom that bikes have to the children who could really use a break as they begin their lives over in new environments. So, I was accustomed to very little fanfare in the delivery of bikes to adults.

Leaving work early I rushed home to get the bikes. I connected the trailer to the van, loaded the bikes and headed to Global Scholars Academy. It wasn’t a long ride from my home and not terribly hot that day. But it was hot enough for me to begin sweating after lifting the bikes from my basement to the trailer. I’m also attending a conference call discussing this summer’s cycling tour with our teens and our partner organization in Atlanta, the BRAG Dream Team.

I made it to the school. Jennifer Delcourt, Coordinator of Safe Routes to Schools, met me with Mr. King. She’s the person who arranged the meeting and the delivery of the bikes. She understood that I wanted to keep a low profile on the delivery. Not that it wasn’t a big deal to me but that I was tired from the weekend and for me it was good enough that I was able to donate the bikes to them. Jennifer was letting me know that the school wanted to take photos. “Sure, that’s cool. I don’t mind,” was my response.

We began unloading the bikes outside the gymnasium in the back of the school. Brian King went ahead of me into the school with two bikes while I pulled the remaining to queue them for easy pickup. From within the walls of the trailer I could easily recognize the time that Brian walked into the gym. He was greeted with a cacophonous sound as cheers rose to such levels that the walls of the school could not contain. Suddenly, the day’s wear and tear on me didn’t seem to matter anymore. The heat, fatigue and drive across town was all worth it as I began to see children spill out of the gym with bright smiles and eyes wide with excitement to glimpse a bike coming into the building and to be the “one” person to help with the bike delivery.

I greeted the children and gladly took photos with a few of them. Whatever I say from this point on would not suffice to share the feeling that I had a that moment. I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary. Let’s just say I’m glad that bikes and kids is the thing that I fell into doing.

Global Scholars Academy

A Word From Global Scholars Academy

In preparation for Bicycle Safety Month in May, the students at Global Scholars Academy located in Durham are planning to take part in bicycle safety classes. The students will receive a donation of nine bicycles and bicycle safety equipment for training purposes. The staff at GSA realizes that every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of bike injuries. Unfortunately, some of these injuries are so serious that children die, predominately from head injuries. In order to prevent these types of injuries, GSA is making the training part of its physical education program.

This bicycle safety training is possible with generous donation from Kevin Hicks from Triangle Bikeworks Youth Cycling. Jennifer Delcourt, regional coordinator for the Active and Routes to School Organization also is helping to make this event happen by giving students bike helmets, hairnets, chain lube, tire patch kits, and a bicycle repair kit.

A head injury can mean brain injury is why Global Scholars Academy feels that bike safety should be a part of their school program.

Foray into Writing

Like my attempt to learn the Spanish language since the age of 17 I’ve been attempting to develop the muscle for writing about my experiences. Now, in particular, working with youth and bicycle touring. I’ve had several starts and stops and even joined several Blogging 101 sessions that is designed to prompt you with questions and ideas on blogging. Well, to say the least, it didn’t work for me. But from my various studies on the subject the main thing that sticks out and is said the most is talk about what you know.

And what I know and what is unique to me is my experiences working with youth and touring by bike across the country on pathed and unpathed roads. Young people make you think. They also make you learn when to keep your mouth shut. Yes, generally they go thru the same trials and tribulations we did when we were their age. And yes, the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. We’re human, right? I embrace them because they are us and we were them.

So, I will write about that. Somewhat unfiltered, as it makes the writing expedient, but never attempting to be malicious. I’ll speak on issues related and concerning youth, outdoors, history and physical activities.

Bear with me as I stumble, bumble and grow right along with the youth of Triangle Bikeworks.

Cycling on…

Cyclocross Testimonials

When I joined cyclocross, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. When they showed us videos of what it was gonna be like, they made it look a lot easier than it actually was. I was so exhausted during the first practice, I had to drag myself back to the other practices. When you get to practice, you’re already tired thinking about how tired you’ll be afterwards but its actually really fun practicing and training with your friends. It’s like taking a shower. You have to drag yourself to do it but in the end, you don’t want to stop or get out.
In cyclocross, you have to race for thirty minutes nonstop so practices and races really improved my endurance and strength. I had no idea I could be so strong and tough. I was a girly girl before cyclocross but it made me into a tough dare devil who had the best wipeout!
So many new memories were made with new friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. Everyone was so kind to each other and we had a great time going to races together. Our leaders and coaches were also spectacular. I can’t think of anyone else who could do a better job than what they do. I’m truly grateful to be part of such an amazing organization.
What I learned about myself because of cyclocross is that I am stronger than what I normally see myself. Stronger in both physically and mentally.
My expectations before I join cyclocross was really different. I didn’t expect the weather to be really cold. I didn’t thought about having to race on grass, mud, sands, slope, and even on raining days. I only expected to race on roads and just have fun racing.
To make cyclocross program better, I think it will be a huge help if we can have better racing gears. Like, better clothing so we don’t freeze or get numbed while racing. Lighter bikes will be a huge help to the cyclist because it will be easier to carry them when we are jumping over barriers and they are faster to race with in this case.
One of the best decision I have ever made. Joining cyclocross helps me realize what it meant to be part of a group, part of a team. I have fun throughout the whole season. The people that I’m with is what make it such an awesome experience.
It was a lot of fun. Sure the training was hard and the actual race was super hard but it was a great experience. Never done stuff like this before!
I think racing with the cyclocross team was very fun. I liked the team and it was very fun! I look forward to racing this fall.