By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Roaring Fork Cycling, a new outdoor-oriented nonprofit is hitting the ground rolling, so to speak, with after-school mountain bike programs, upcoming summer mountain bike day camps, a professionally created logo and website, and guiding principals that include:
• Opportunity: RFC wants to get all youth on bikes, give them the skills to feel confident and safe, and ride with them as far as they want to go;
• Stewardship & Advocacy: Young riders will learn how to be respectful ambassadors of the sport by understanding and practicing trail etiquette, serving as role models, and participating in trail work days;
• Inclusiveness: RFC aims to help provide these experiences to underrepresented demographics. It doesn’t take much to get started in cycling, but they can help with equipment.
• Lifestyle, Lifelong Sport: RFC hopes to instill a love for being outdoors and healthy lifestyle choices by participating in a sport that can carry youth into their advanced years. For some students, a natural evolution of this program will be to join a high school mountain bike team. For others, it may be simply to continue the sport in a non-competitive realm;
• Experience: Coaches will have all the necessary training when it comes to teaching mountain biking skills and leading safe outdoor adventures. Equally as important, our coaches will be trained as effective teachers, leaders, and mentors;
• Teamwork & Social Engagement: Provide a fun, supportive program for children and young adults to work together and hang out with their peers.
Roaring Fork Cycling’s next big event is a bike swap at Crown Mountain Park on May 6 (see below).
With all the kids and bikes up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, and various nonprofits that focus on the former, it might be a little surprising that nobody has connected the two. But they hadn’t until the past year, when Trina Ortega, Rob Russell and Jonathan Delk finally crossed paths, compared notes and decided to go for it.
Ortega, who is managing editor for Mountain Flyer magazine, told The Sopris Sun her idea for an after-school mountain bike program started a few years ago when her middle school son, Tyler, asked if she’d start a club.
“We ran rogue,” she joked, referring to the club’s lack of insurance and organizational structure. Eventually, the club disbanded before Tyler entered high school but Ortega hung on to the idea of such a group.
Ortega and Russell already knew each other. Delk is the Aspen High School mountain bike team coach and he knew Russell. Aspen and Basalt middle schools already have after-school mountain bike programs; Roaring Fork Cycling plans to start one at Carbondale Middle School.
The three mountain bikers established a working board. Chris Geiger of Balcomb & Green volunteered to help them set up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that allows for tax-exempt donations.
“It was a pretty steep learning curve … setting up a nonprofit,” Ortega said.
Word that Roaring Fork Cycling was taking form spread mostly through word-of-mouth for people who might want to get involved.
“Not everyone who helps is a parent,” Ortega continued. “They come from the biking community.”
Besides Ortega, Russell and Delk, the other board members are: Chris Geiger, Paul Hassel, Kevin Jordan and Heath Johnson.
The group’s partners include: Rainy Day Design, Kissane Viola Design, Crown Mountain, Element by Weston, Roaring Fork Schools, the City of Aspen, the Crown Mountain BMX park, Pitkin County, the Town of Snowmass Village and the Aspen School District.
Ortega said Roaring Fork Cycling’s basic model is to provide free mountain bike programs for the schools, and to charge for programs such as upcoming summer day camps in Snowmass Village. The day camps will be for kids in grades 1-8, with grades 1-2 at a half-day, and grades 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will also be girls only camps for high schoolers and middle schoolers. A “Freeride Team” (evening group rides) for high schoolers runs for 10 weeks beginning in May.
“It (the group rides) will be unique,” Ortega said. “We’ll get the community involved with guest coaches and club coaches … Riders will get to experience different styles with each.”
On down the road, Roaring Fork Cycling is open to all kinds of cycling programs, depending on what the community wants. “It might be road riding or cyclocross … we don’t want to be pigeon holed. If someone comes to us with an idea, we want to say ‘let’s do it.’ This is for kids who enjoy being on a bike.”
For more on Roaring Fork Cycling, go to roaringforkcycling.org, or email info@RoaringForkCycling.org.
Bike swap at Crown Mountain Park
Roaring Fork Cycling holds its inaugural bike swap at Crown Mountain Park (near the El Jebel City Market) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 6, according to a press release.
The swap will help valley riders, especially parents and kids, to find affordable used bikes, bike-related parts, accessories and clothing, while selling items they no longer need.
The swap is open to all kinds of bikes for all ages, from mountain bikes to road bikes and BMX. Aspen High School mountain bike team riders and volunteers will be on hand to help with pricing, bike selection and fit.
“Fulfilling our mission to make biking more accessible begins with helping people find the right gear,” said Roaring Fork Cycling co-founder Trina Ortega. “This bike swap is also our chance to connect with riders from up and down valley, and continue to spread the word about our kids’ programs.”
Bikes can be dropped off at Crown Mountain Park from 8-9:30 a.m. on May 6. Unsold bikes must be collected from 2-4 p.m.
For more information, go to roaringforkcycling.org, call Heath Johnson at 618-8447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.