I Smile Because…

Jeimy looking to mountains in Montana

It’s been only 5 years since the Spoke ‘n Revolutions Youth Cycling group became more than just an idea on a piece of paper. It has become more than that to everyone who has taken part of our journey as cyclist. Once you become involved with the group you will always have a part of it for the rest of your life.

I was only 15 when I first joined Spoke ‘n Revolutions and cycled my first 1800 miles. This picture represents each day of a cycling tour because even if it is a rough day with several never ending hills or just an extremely “hot day” ride, you will always have a smile at the end of the day. I smile because I have accomplished more than I thought I could. I smile because I have a cycling family. I smile because after being on a bike seat for several hours I can finally get off. And I smile because this picture captures what a cycling trip is – pure joy!

Jeimy

Triangle Bikeworks started as a pilot project in 2010 to see if teens would enjoy a 60 mile bike ride. It came after a conjuring by one of the founders to have youth cycle from Maine to Florida. That project has now become the flagship program Spoke’n Revolutions which takes youth on cross country tours. Triangle Bikeworks also added competitive cycling programs in the form of Cyclocross and Mountain Bike racing. We’re unique in the fact that we’re the only nonprofit serving underrepresented youth in the Triangle area cycling arena.

Jeimy Leading A 'Bike Dance'

Current Programs

  • Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Cycling – history and cultures based cross country tours
  • Cyclocross – competitive cycling in the fall
  • Mountain Biking – competitive cycling in the spring
  • Bikes and Barnyards – a summer bike camp

Why We Exist?

  • Current school curriculums are not able to do a deep dive into cultural or historical elements of our country.
  • There is a need for project based learning because it is effective and lasting.
  • Youth need physical activities for proper brain development
  • Not all youth participate in traditional school sports
  • There is a high cost of entry in the field of cycling
  • Youth of color aren’t large participants in organized cycling

The programs of Triangle Bikeworks transformed the life of Jeimy in the most amazing way. She returns from college and gives back to the organization to make sure other youth have an opportunity to have similar experiences.

For the price of a coffee twice a month you can ensure opportunities continue to be given to youth like Jeimy. Transforming lives, one revolution at a time.


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Da Paat Ta Freedum Tour – Day 1

Day 1 was celebratory. We gathered at Herndon Park in Durham right off the East Coast Greenway. After a busy night of preparation seeing familiar faces from our friends in Atlanta brought a lot of comfort. Old friends of mine from the ECG like Dennis, Debbie, Vanessa and the Durham Bike Coop Rob became new friends of the youth riding this tour. There were also some new faces coming from our Spoke’n Revolutions team as well as the BRAG Dream Team having new members so for now each group of youth stick to their familiar.

After introductions, team stretches and a rules of the road talk we were on our way taking the back entrance onto the East Coast Greenway. At 8am we almost needed a traffic light to get on the path it was so busy. We are a bustling group of 21 youth and six adults making an impression as we winded our way on the Paat Ta Freedum.  It was good to see the smiles on faces of the people going by and the greetings of hello. One gentlemen suggested we get on the road.  Ha, we’ll be there soon enough.

The Kindness of Others

First tour day mishap took us past the Sharon Harris nuclear plan. With the change in road names and the additional ten miles we were now just over an hour off schedule. By the time we were 7 miles outside of Erwin, NC that mishap turned into good fortune as often things of this nature do. As “fate” would put it we ended up meeting the Cole family of Buies Creek at the intersection of US-421 N/E Cornelius Harnett Blvd and Old Johnson Farm Rd. They invited us to their home for water and a rest stop. Who could turn down such awesome hospitality?!  We were greeted with smiles, fresh watermelon (a great treat for ANY cyclist) and great conversation.

We arrived at the Erwin Volunteer Fire and Rescue in the heart of Erwin, NC. Their being in the heart of Erwin must be intentional because they also are the HEART of Erwin. The hospitality is overwhelmingly good and welcoming. We were treated as family visitors from out of town. Things could not be better. 

Forgive me for not having photos at this time (and this day in age – I’m pitiful) but I promise to be back to my old self by this afternoon with photos and comments to boot.  Psst, the kids get journals today, they don’t know it, yet.  Hehe

The Kindness of Others

Back in 2011 I wrote a blog entry during our Underground Railroad summer tour. In it I talked about how we completed our almost 1700 mile journey by criss crossing from state to state and having sleeping accommodations in living rooms and backyards along the route. The majority of the stops for the night were with people we had only met that day or the day before over the phone. For me this was a testament to the greatness of the American people despite various news reports and pundits. Acts of kindness such as those happened for us on each of our four touring seasons and continues to happen through community donations and in-kind support of bike parts, clothing and bikes. The kindness of others sustains us.

I recount those days because just a couple of weeks ago we took our training ride out to Maple View Farm. The Maple View Farm Ice Cream Shop has for a long time kept a drinking fountain outside of their shop to quench the thirst of people biking in the area. That’s a great act of kindness. Recently, they’ve added a much appreciated addition to their porch deck so that it extends around where the fountain was located. It wasn’t until this weekend that I realized that they simply moved the fountain to the other side of the building. Continuing their act of kindness to people who bike.

The Spotted Dog

Similarly, the church on Union Grove Church Road ran a water line near the road so that cyclists can quench their hard earned thirsts. This is where we met two ladies hanging out in the shade and changing a flat tire. As the youth replenished their water supply Tod and I walked up to see if we could help. Tod, in his amiable way, was able to assist in the replacement of the tube and using Tyvek from Tod’s universal bike kit to shore up the puncture in the tire. It worked like a charm and soon the conversation went from tire repair to everything else.

When we parted we were offered lunch on them at the Spotted Dog. A great place to eat in Carrboro for both vegans and carnivores. Yesterday we were able to take Linda and Karin up on their offer of lunch and use the gift certificate. Man! was it delicious! With nine people in our party we were pleasantly surprised to know that there was still room on the certificate to get dessert. Thankfully, there is never an end to the kindness of others.

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.