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Monterey County Youth Center Bike Class: Be part of the solution in the 2nd year!

[For an update on this class, which began its 6th year in April 2017, click here.]

Mechanix.com gloves and Beverly's fabric

Some car enthusiasts–namely, the folks at Mechanix Wear–have something else on their minds as well: how they can help young bicycle mechanics. Read on to learn how they stepped up to help.

Get in touch now to see how you can join them in supporting the Monterey County Youth Center in providing bicycle repair and safety instruction.

More instructors are needed.

Scroll down to… Second Year – How you can help.”
To learn more about the class, scroll to the end of this post.

The Monterey County bike community came together to help meet the needs of local youth. Soon boosters who share bike-love for our beautiful county came alongside us as well. Please join Bicycling Monterey in saying “Thank you!” to the instructors and other supporters listed below.

Who are the students?

Boys who are incarcerated at the Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center, a youth treatment program, are ages 14-17 (some turn 18 while there). They come from all over the county.

Think they are tough students to teach? Al contrario. In my experience, the boys selected to participate in bike class are truly a joy to work with!

Eighty to ninety percent of the Youth Center boys are reported to have learning disabilities. Many have been abused or neglected. Most have been gang affiliated.

A small number of these teens are being given the opportunity to gain confidence about their place in the bike community, as they develop bike repair/maintenance and safety skills. They will also become aware of California bike laws, local bike clubs, activities, events, resources, and more.

All these sow seeds in the boys’ hearts and minds that may bear the fruit of  healthier, happier lives. Plus, everyone benefits by having these interested youth engaged in the bike community, one of the ways they can make their own positive contributions to Monterey County life, and beyond.

Youth Center bike class marked its first anniversary April 15, 2012.

Read details about the class, and why it’s needed, in “Getting on the right path–a bike path! Bicycle Repair and Safety class at Monterey County’s youth treatment center.”

Scroll down to learn what’s up in the Second Year and for How you can help.

See those reusable bike parts below? In this class, we “reduce-reuse-recycle love our planet”–and save funds–by making use of every possible used bike part. On a recent Sunday afternoon, besides participating during class time, some Youth Center students took a little time in-between their other activities to lend a hand as Mari organized the bike sheds. And who helped Mari identify unfamiliar bike parts? Jim Warwick, a Salinas High teacher and a coach of the Salinas High Cowboys Racing Mountain Bike Team! Jim knows that many teens love to work on bikes–and just need some instruction and support.

Sorting parts - 2

Who makes Youth Center bike class happen?

Instructors

The first year’s successful completion has only been possible because of the dedication and skills of volunteer instructors.

Continuing instructors Frank Henderson andLuciano Rodriguez remained on board as the second year rolled into summer. Frank and Luciano have taught since April 2012 and July 2012, respectively.

Former instructor Joseph Crabtree taught in the first series and continues to serve as an advisor. Former instructor Korey Erickson played a foundational role in the class, contributing  fourteen months of service, beginning in April 2012.

Heartfelt thanks to all four instructors! Learn more about each in Getting on the right path.”

Read on to learn more about who makes bike class happen.

Luciano Rodriguez

Frank Henderson

Frank Henderson May 2011 at Seaside PAL Bike Fair

 Got it going, let’s keep it rolling!

Here’s a shout-out to Richard Gray, director, and Youth Center staff;  the bike class instructors who all joined Mari in volunteering; and the many other supporters (check them out below) who came together to create a Bicycle Repair and Safety Class at the Monterey County Youth Center.

The inaugural series of classes were established by Bicycling Monterey, with instructors scheduled from April 15, 2012 through July 28, 2013.

Additional series are desired–and will happen if enough additional volunteer instructors come forward!  (If not, alternatively, it is likely that occasional bike repair/safety seminars will be offered for Fall 2013.)

For more details about volunteering, click here.

Inaugural supporters: bike advocates in Monterey County

The first to step up and express their support–and in most cases, to have already provided either volunteer time and/or donated items (see donors page)–are:  Joseph Crabtree of Pacific Grove’s Forest Hill Bike Shop;  Salinas bike shops Bear Bikes and Bobcat Bicycles; Bay Bikes of Carmel and Monterey; Peninsula Bike Works of Monterey; the world-renowned Sea Otter Classic and Monterey County companies Light & Motion and SIDI America; Monterey-Salinas Transit/“The Bus”;  Richard Gray and Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center staff; and Monterey County-based Fine Wordworking.

Please see “Getting on the Right Path” to learn more about each of these supporters.

2nd-year boosters

The second year got the boost of some additional supporters, including Winning Wheels Bicycle Shop, Pacific Grove.

Non-bike-related businesses in Monterey County also contributed to making the Youth Center bike class shop function more effectively–and with an extra dose of bike-love cheer–by donating miscellaneous supplies. These business donors included Beverly’s, Monterey (two bicycle-design fabrics–one of which is pictured above, with Mechanix Wear gloves), Cypress Garden Nursery, Monterey (bicycle-design wrapping paper), Pharmaca, Monterey (Rx bottles to hold small bike parts), and Star Market, Salinas (tape for bike parts labels).   Danielle Shillcock provided software assistance in preparing class materials.

Click here to see a list of some Sea Otter Classic 2013 visitors who recognized the importance of making sure these Monterey County youth are better equipped for biking!

Last but not least, a generous gift arrived from the folks at Mechanix Wear. They know that “your skin is a sponge,” and that protecting your hands means protecting your health. To protect the hands of these young bike mechanics from absorbing lubricants and such, Mechanix Wear sent a shipment of The Original and Fast Fit mechanic’s gloves. And they included gloves for the instructors, too–no chance of “do as I say, not as I do.”

Why do they help?

All these donors wanted to help the bike community contribute to meeting the needs of these Monterey County youth. This is how we roll in Monterey County!

We know that mentoring youth in acquiring bike skills of various sorts, and inviting and supporting them in forming new relationships in the bike community, are among the effective alternatives to gang violence and similar traps.

Second Year

The first series of classes for the second year began May 19, 2013 and was completed July 28, 2013.

More volunteer instructors are needed in order to continue providing students with a series of classes, as has been done the past 16 months. Without sufficient numbers of bike repair instructors, it may be possible to instead offer occasional bike repair and safety seminars.

How you can help

Be part of the solution: Your help is needed to ensure growth and long-range success.
Volunteer as a repair/maintenance instructor.

Do you have bike repair/maintenance skills? Adding more instructors to our team is important for the longevity of this program, as well as toward being able to offer the class to larger numbers of interested Youth Center teens.

Because all our volunteers have been employed full-time-plus, bike class meets Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon. Allow a little extra time before and after.

Class does not meet on holiday weekends.

Current needs are for instructors who can teach a minimum of once or twice a month, including co-teaching at the first and last class of the series.

Requirements for volunteer instructors

Click here to read the qualifications/requirements for instructors. Please phone Mari with questions.

The Youth Center appreciates those who serve as providers for youth in their care, including the bike class providers–click here.

More details, including about the need for this bike class and how it got started, are in “Getting on the right path.”

Here’s a glimpse into class activity from 3/17/13:  Assignment of the day was to start with a fully built BMX bike, disassemble it completely down to the frame, build it back up, and ride! Next week: Do the same on a road or mountain bike with gears and a three-piece crank set.  Can you do that? Volunteer to be a repair and maintenance instructor!

Volunteer to help in other ways
  1. Have organizational skills and like to keep track of schedules and such? Become the class coordinator, or assist.
  2. Have you learned from an educational or inspirational bike-related video? Loans of DVDs (no web access) are welcome. Contact Mari to discuss.
  3. Been inspired by an essay, short story, etc. about biking that would work well as a  read-aloud? Print and postal mail a copy to Mari (no web access there). Kindly be sure font size is easy to read.

If none of the above work for you, but you’d still like to find a way to help, please contact Mari.

New inspiration: Any students drawn to mountain biking?

One of the goals of this class is to share with the students the wide variety of opportunities in the world of biking–whether for recreation, transportation, competition, health, or just plain fun. Many teens love BMX, cruisers, fixies, and other bikes. Among the types of bikes they have a chance to work on–and try out at class–are mountain bikes.

With that in mind, additional support was received in this second year from Jacob and Isaac Siegel-Bottner of Pedal Born Pictures. These brothers and filmmakers donated a DVD of “Singletrack High,” a film that can provide inspiration for students of the class who may be interested in mountain biking. Watch a 1 min, 49 sec “Singletrack High” video clip, “Something you don’t see every day”

Why mountain biking? Recently a former gang member now working in the bike industry learned about this class. Here’s what he said, in response to a question whether he had any ideas that might help these students. Yes, he said, mountain biking!  He went on at length, extolling the many benefits of mountain biking and how it had been a part of his turning his life around, including this comment, “When you’re out in nature, nobody bothers you like on the streets.”

Help for any Monterey County Youth Center bike class student interested in mountain biking is available from continuing supporters of the class, including these and others:

  • SIDI America, ready to fit a grad who is serious about mountain biking into excellent MTB shoes;
  • Bear Bikes of Salinas, donating SPD pedals to go with those shoes; and
  • Camelbak, which provided a Camelbak for some bike class students interested in biking significant distances, such as while mountain biking, so it’s easier for them to stay safely hydrated.

Gear donations to ensure that a dedicated mountain biker can roll well-equipped is very helpful! And there’s a another valuable support available for students whose passion is stirred by mountain biking: One of their volunteer bike repair instructors,  Luciano Rodriguez, is especially well-suited to answer their questions. Luciano is an eclectic cyclist who has raced Sea Otter Classic for eleven consecutive years, including 2013 pro competition in mountain bike cross country, Category 1 Singlespeed, and other races. Luciano also designed and constructed MTB trails at Rancho Cielo Youth Campus, with the help of other community volunteers.

Youth Center teens will also learn about support from other local resources that they can make use of following their graduation. These include Monterey Off Road Cycling Association, which offers a wide range of local MTB opportunities; and Monterey Composite, a high school mountain bike team open to any Monterey County public, private, or home/unschooler in grades 9-12. (If Youth Center teens are later enrolled at either Salinas High or Palma, there are mountain bike teams available at those high schools as well.)

And for April 2014, ten four-day passes are waiting for Youth Center grads so five boys can attend Sea Otter Classic, and take a family member or friend along too. Thanks to Sea Otter Classic for this generous donation. Whether grads interested in mountain biking race in one of SOC’s mountain biking competitions or simply watch the races (mountain, road, and cyclocross), being present at this world-renowned Celebration of Cycling is a great boost to most anyone who bikes. And it’s a wonderful place to learn much more about the bike world (e.g., there were over 400 vendors at SOC’s 2013 Expo).

On top of the above supports, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) offers student grants. Wondering about the cost of race registration fees and such, should any of the boys decide they want to race with a team? The NorCal League is committed to making their races accessible to everyone, regardless of a student’s financial situation, as their 2013 scholarship application indicates. (NorCal scholarship recipient families are asked to share the cost. If that isn’t possible for all Youth Center students, other local support can likely be secured, perhaps through a fundraiser they can participate in.) NorCal scholarship recipients are also asked to do some volunteer work on the day of the race they receive a scholarship for, which provides yet another opportunity to gain new work experience and to form additional new relationships in the world of biking.  But are there many NorCal scholarships available? As reported in Cycling News on 2/25/13,  “The NorCal League has provided more financial scholarships to student-athletes in need than ever before in the history of the League, having given close to $15K in scholarships so far this season.”

Please contact Mari Lynch (831-375-6278) with questions, comments, or offers to help.

* * * * *

Below:  Monterey County youth who are already enjoying the freedom of the bikeways regularly.

For more on bicycle culture and youth, click here.

(None of these are from the Probation Department Youth Center.)

This 2013 Monterey High graduate is a savvy bike commuter, regularly riding to school from his Seaside home…

MHS 2013 grad often uses library

He’s also savvy about the Monterey Public Library’s message–eat, move, read–and is seen at the library regularly.

IMG_0354

So many teens are like him and know the many benefits that biking provides, including:

Del Monte Center by Macys

an economical and environmentally friendly form of  transportation….

MIIS student at HER Helmet Thursdays spot - Cannery Row Brewing - May 2013

and a great way to skip traffic…..

Fixed at SHS - with brakes

a safe and sane form of recreation…

an exciting activity for building healthy relationships with new friends or existing family and friends…

Beauty on the Bike (2)

work possibilities–because more people all the time are biking, to build their health and help the planet–and they need bike repairs and maintenance, and other bike industry skills…

And not least of all, lots of teens know that biking is fun!

All posts about the Monterey County Youth Center bike class, as of 11/4/13:

  1. Getting on the right path–a bike path! Bicycle Repair and Safety class at Monterey County’s youth treatment center  [includes bios for first four instructors and other first-year supporters; gives background about the Youth Center, and earliest history of the class]
  2. Monterey County Youth Center Bike Class: Be part of the solution in the second year! [includes second-year start-up boosters; and info relevant for students who may be interested in mountain biking/bike teams]
  3. Thank You, Bike Class Teachers: Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center Honors Providers [includes list of 33 providers at MCYC–a youth treatment center]
  4. Monterey County Youth Center Bike Class Supporters: Sea Otter Classic Vendors [includes more second-year boosters–grad gifts and supplies]
  5. Youth Center – Teach Teens Well: Bicycle repair instructors needed for Monterey County youth [includes qualifications for instructors, and summary to date]

 

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