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Getting on the right path–a bike path! Bicycle Repair and Safety class at Monterey County’s youth treatment center.

Some Monterey County boys are wrenching bikes, and practicing bike-riding skills, in a small, fenced yard surrounded by razor wire.

[For an update on this class, which marked its second anniversary in April 2014, click here.]

These youth, members of the  Monterey County bike community, are part of the hope of tomorrow.  And they are learning bicycle repair, maintenance, and safety skills from today’s bike community leaders.

Instructors Frank Henderson and Luciano Rodriguez and class coordinator Mari Lynch;

and past instructors Joseph Crabtree of Pacific Grove’s Forest Hill Bike Shop, and Korey Ericson;

along with contributors of project supplies–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”;  and Monterey County-based Fine Wordworking are all part of the solution.

Solution to what?  To helping youth stay away from gang relationships and similar traps. 
How? By helping them gain confidence about their place in the bike community!

4/15/13 was the 1st Anniversary of this Monterey County Youth Center Bike Class; click here. You’ll also read in that post about additional supporters who came aboard in the second year!

Help in this second year is welcome and appreciated:
  1. If you have bike repair skills and a genuine heart for youth, perhaps you would like to volunteer as an instructor. Requirements include passing a background check and being an excellent role model for youth, along with fulfilling typical volunteer commitments, such as communications with bike class team members. If this appeals to you, please read this post, then phone Mari with questions. Thank you.
  2. An off-site volunteer to help as an administrative assistant to the volunteer class coordinator would also be appreciated. Phone Mari to learn more.

The info below was previously published 3/27/12. It was last reviewed for any updates on 3/13/13. For all posts about the class, scroll to the bottom.

Bicycle Repair, Maintenance, and

Safety class at Monterey County

Probation Department’s

Youth Center

Instructors

For Monterey County youth?  We’ve lined up some of the best!

The instructors provide a rich mix of  experiences and styles.  And they have brought this dream to life! Learn more about each of them:

Pictured above: current instructor Frank Henderson and former instructor Korey Ericson

 

Frank Henderson of Marina, Bike League-certified instructor

Frank Henderson is a League of American Bicyclists certified instructor and a Transportation Agency of Monterey County Golden Helmet Award winner (2010).  Learn more about Frank’s longstanding role as a bike advocate and avid bike commuter here.

Frank is employed as a Hartnell College Learning Center instructor, and his experience in that realm also show in his support for this class. He provides consultation time regularly to the class coordinator to help ensure the stability of the class.

Frank’s primary role with the Monterey County Youth Center class is as bicycle safety instruction coordinator. Driver’s ed is a cultural norm for most of American society. Biker’s ed, though, is a rarity–but not for boys in this class! Our goal is that they graduate the class prepared to not only repair and maintain their own bikes, but to ride them legally and get to destinations safely.

The students not only learn safe riding skills, they also get a deeper understanding of how bikes work. For example, after working on a derailleur, youth may do a test ride on the grounds with Frank, to confirm that the derailleur is working exactly as intended.

Frank has repair and maintenance skills too, having built and maintained many bikes of his own. He  supports the repair/maintenance instructors by sharing in teaching the boys those skills as well.

Luciano Rodriguez of Salinas, Blazing New Trails

Salinas native Luciano Rodriguez came to love the challenge of athletics as a sophomore at North Salinas High, first as a runner completing Bay to Breakers. Upon graduating NSHS, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving five years before his honorable discharge in 2002.

A Marine Corps bonus burned a hole in the pockets of some, but for Luciano, it began a love affair with biking.  His bonus purchased a new Cannondale, and back in Salinas, he signed up to race his first Sea Otter Classic. He’s continued to race SOC, for ten years consecutively by the time he began teaching this class in 2012. He took first that year as a solo rider in the 24 Hour Hammerstein too.

By 2012 he had been employed for nearly five years as an instructional aide and assistant para professional at Rancho Cielo, to which he bike commutes from his North Salinas home. And at Rancho Cielo, despite many odds, Luciano blazed new trails: sweet single-track! His enthusiastic initiative won the help of volunteers from the Salinas High School mountain bike team in creating his network of trails.  Not only are some RC students now mountain biking, it wasn’t long before the first had followed Luciano’s lead and raced Sea Otter as well. Luciano was honored with a well-deserved Light the Fire Within award from Monterey County Office of Education on 9/11/12.

The heart and diverse skills of this enthusiastic bike commuter, mountain bike racer, endurance cyclist, trail builder, fixie rider, youth instruction professional, and more round out our MCYC team. Luciano models for the boys consistent respect, perseverance, and a positive attitude–all with a sparkle in his eye and a smile on his face that show it’s fun!

Learn more about Luciano in  “Public Radio Highlights  Bike Community Leader,” 10/10/12.  Click here.

Joseph Crabtree of Pacific Grove’s Forest Hill Bike Shop

Joseph Crabtree continues as our on-call senior consultant regarding bicycle repair and maintenance.  He also served as hands-on instructor for the first series of classes and supports the class in other ways.

Joseph is a professional well known for custom bikes and service, including pro builds for road, mountain, and cyclocross.  He has been involved in the bike industry since college, and he brought those decades of experience together to open Forest Hill Bike Shop, Pacific Grove in 2008.

While he’s a master of his trade, his quiet humility regarding his talents  is apparent.  As Aristotle put it, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  Joseph’s manner made him an even more valuable role model for the boys he’s shared his trade with.

Korey Ericson of Monterey, Bike Builder

Here’s a shout-out to Korey Ericson for serving 14 months as an instructor, from 4/15/13 through 6/9/13.Without his early and lengthy commitment, this class may not have been launched.

Korey contributed much as an instructor of bicycle repair and maintenance.  He also shared responsibility for curriculum development, helping determine the selected skills of greatest appeal, practical use, and lasting value to the students. 

A resident of Monterey, he is a hobbyist well experienced in building beach cruisers, BMXs, mountain, and road bikes.

The local transportation professional who referred Korey noted he is a top-notch bike builder with style.  He’s cool and artistic, “a man’s man with sensitivity.”  And he’s “totally caring for people and especially children and teens.”  From the very first discussions with Korey, and hearing his many ideas for working with Youth Center students, that was easy to discern.

Korey’s no-nonsense yet loving guidance approach to discipline is clear. If a challenge arose, Korey was quick to identify it and to offer practical solutions.

Learn more about Korey and the class in Jessica Bray’s story “Wheels Turning in the 4/19-25, 2012 Monterey County Weekly.

Why is this class needed?

Every child is precious!  Yet, for a variety of reasons, as kids grow, some take a serious fall on the road of young life, with major repercussions.  And some engage in behavior that lands them in the juvenile court system.

At the Monterey County Youth Center, such local teenaged boys are provided treatment aimed at steering them away from the pressures of gang violence and other crimes–and getting them on a path to a healthier, happier, more rewarding life. 

Youth enter the Center at ages 14 to 17; some may turn 18 while completing their treatment at the Center. 

Where are the youth from? 

The youth come from all over Monterey County. About half are from Monterey County cities and census-designated places including Monterey (population 27,810), Prunedale (17,560), King City (12,874), and Gonzales (8,187). The other roughly half are from Salinas, which has by far the largest population (150,441) of any city in Monterey County. The center is located in Salinas, the Monterey County seat.

Hey, can a bike class really make a difference?

The need is great for a broad community effort to prevent youth violence in Monterey County, which had the highest youth homicide rate in California in 2009 and 2010. Learn more by reading the links in “Salinas Youth and Others for Bikes.”

Preparing for a 2/7/12 presentation to the Board of Supervisors, the Monterey County Health Department’s Linda McGlone stated to the Salinas Californian, “We are hoping that community members and agencies come to truly believe that these deaths and shootings can be prevented.”

Julia Reynolds reported in a Monterey Herald 10/27/11 story that Senior Probation Officer Dawn Allen “cautioned the charges sometimes sound overly ominous — a robbery can mean taking another kid’s iPod and an assault can be a charge stemming from a schoolyard brawl.

“[Probation Chief Manuel] Real said that doesn’t mean the crimes aren’t often serious, but today’s model for juvenile justice is based on evidence-based treatment methods that provide better results than plain old punishment.” The Youth Center is a year-long post-sentence rehabilitative program. (Curious how that compares to Juvenile Hall? Pretrial minors are housed at Juvenile Hall, as Allison Gatlin of the Salinas Californian pointed out in a 4/22/14 story.)

A bicycle repair and safety class at the Youth Center will equip its students with skills that give them a leg-up on discovering the many benefits of bicycling.  It will also provide an introduction to valuable vocational skills, and show them new possibilities for meaningful work.   And it will not only benefit them personally; the selected skills they acquire in bike repair, maintenance, and safety are something of value they can share with others.  

Maybe some of these students will someday return to the Youth Center–this time, as individuals who have passed the background checks and are themselves highly desirable instructors.

How did this bike class get started?

Bicycling Monterey wanted to help get youth bike classes going in Monterey County similar to those that occur in various parts of the country, and Rancho Cielo had been in mind as one possible location.  (Check out the links below, under “Summary of background, and related inspiration.”) Pursuing that idea was postponed, largely due to available time

Then, while attending a community forum in East Salinas about the Monterey County Youth Center, I learned from their brochure that the Youth Center has been wanting to offer a small number of their youth a weekly on-site Bicycle Repair and Safety class.  Deputy Director Richard Gray and Youth Center staff were inspired about having a bike class after seeing how Treasure Island combined teaching bike skills with math and other skills.

Why haven’t they? Lack of volunteers.

Bingo!  Bicycling Monterey knew that the Monterey County bike community could surely meet this pressing need, so began rounding up the necessary support. When our county seat is fighting gang violence (and other behaviors that land teens in the Youth Center)  on a shoestring, let’s make sure that includes a bike shoe shoestring.

Monterey County Youth Center’s Bike Class

The Monterey County Youth Center bike class series meets weekly. Since the current volunteer instructors are employed at their regular jobs Mon-Sat, the class meets on Sundays, from 10 a.m. til noon.

Depending on their length of stay at the Youth Center, the students may have an opportunity after completing a first series of classes to attend an additional  series. This can allow them not only to have the opportunity to master additional bike skills, but to gain experience as teaching assistants too.

Got bikes?

Yup, got bikes for the Youth Center class.  There are already some bicycles available on which the youth learn bike maintenance and repair skills.  See bottom of this post for who to contact if you have bicycles you no longer need.

Earn a bike

Class participants can earn a bike:  Those who graduate from the Youth Center in good standing may–with their parent or guardian’s permission–be given a bike (which they have worked on) to take with them upon graduation. The bike can be for their own or a family member’s use.

That’s especially good news!  At an October 2011 meeting about the Youth Center, I viewed the work of teen artists with Hijos del Sol who were painting or sculpting bicycles.  Some quietly admitted that although they loved bikes, they didn’t actually own any bicycle to ride. 

And as of March 2013, bikes repaired by the Youth Center class participants help put more than just themselves on two wheels! Students’ repair skills will now have the result that some children, teens, and adults who are participants in probation department programs can receive these bicycles as well. For some of the bike class students, this may be the first time their volunteerism (they do not have to be in bike class, they choose to be) will have such a positive benefit for people they don’t even know.

See “Team of Supporters(below) for what else the first graduates in good standing can look forward to.  Supporters are ready to celebrate success!

The physical space for bike instruction

On-site at the Monterey County Youth Center, there are two storage units with rolling doors that store  the bicycles, tools, and supplies.  A canopy is set up nearby, providing shade to work outdoors.  In inclement weather, as of March 2013, a nearby vocational education room can be used for class.

Although bicycle field trips cannot take place at this time, there is space on the secure, fenced-in premises for riding, to practice bike safety skills.

The Team of Supporters

In addition to the volunteer instructors listed above, support for the class is being provided by the following. [4/25/13 update: In the second year of this class, additional supporters pitched in; click here.]

Light & Motion

Light & Motion, world-renowned for their fabulous bike lights and more, jumped right in.

Light & Motion has donated to the first graduates of this bike repair and safety class some awesome commuter bike lights! 

Light & Motion’s Heidi Hall promptly offered that Light & Motion could also assist the class instructors in providing education about how to ride smart and safe at night. Heidi’s successor, Ryan White, is likewise at the ready when there is an opportunity for night riding practice.

SIDI America

As the best racers know, SIDI America is a market leader when it comes to shoes for cyclists.  They care about top athletes in need of top-performing shoes.

And SIDI cares about motivating and encouraging teens in the Monterey County Youth Center bike class to see their work there to completion, and in good standing.

One of those youth who is especially drawn to mountain biking (and if more than one, then chosen by raffle) will be awarded a pair of SIDI shoes–SIDI’s best-selling mountain bike shoe, the Dominator 5.   SIDI knows that a Youth Center graduate who is seriously interested in more time on his bike will find those bike hours all the more enjoyable if he has good shoes on his feet.

This world-renowned company has a motto of “Fit to perfection. Fit to perform.” And when it’s time for graduation, SIDI has offered to bring their 24-foot fitting van to the Youth Center, so those shoes will fit that graduate exactly as they are intended to.

Every member of the class who graduates in good standing will be recognized with a SIDI t-shirt. Special thanks to Matthew Ryan of SIDI for facilitating the company’s participation.

Bear Bikes and Bobcat Bicycles

These Salinas bike shops know it often takes a community joining together to make good things happen. Got shoes, yes, but what about the necessary SPD pedal to go with those SIDI shoes?  And how about some good socks to make those pedaling feet more comfy after many a mile?

Thanks to Bear Bikes for jumping in with an offer to provide SPD pedals, and to Bobcat Bicycles for donating socks to go with that graduate’s shoes. 

Even when the economy is down, these guys are up–up to the challenge of playing a part in preventing youth gang activity or other criminal behavior, one pedal stroke at a time.

Please stop in and visit them, and let them know you appreciate our local bike shops being part of the solution.

The Sea Otter Classic

Hmmm…What are some potentially long-lasting ways to help more youth find their place in the world of bicycling?

Ah-ha!  The Sea Otter Classic, now in its third decade, is 15 miles from the Monterey County Youth Center.  In addition to attracting 10,000 pro and amateur road, mountain, and cyclocross racers annually, the Sea Otter Classic is the bicycle world’s premiere festival and one of the world’s largest.  Besides the racers, another 50,000+ bike enthusiasts make the annual pilgrimage to this very special event. 

Sea Otter immediately recognized that helping youth to spend four days at this world-renowned “Celebration of Cycling” could inspire and support youth in building new relationships in the bike community. 

There will be opportunities galore to try free activities–from the restorative activity of yoga to the adrenalin rush of the Big Air Bag!  There will be ops to chat with bike industry professionals at the Sea Otter Expo (North America’s largest bike expo).  They’ll be able to talk bikes with people all over the festival grounds–whether to simply learn more about what’s out there, or perhaps to explore career possibilities.  

In many, many ways, Sea Otter is an extraordinary place to get a feel for the ways that bicycling can be an exciting part of a healthy life.

The first five graduates in good standing will each receive four-day festival passes for the 2013 Sea Otter Classic.  Each will receive not only the pass for themselves but also a second four-day pass, so they may invite a sibling or other family member or friend to share the experience.

Monterey-Salinas Transit

Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST/”The Bus”) knows that every cyclist has times when their schedule or stamina means it isn’t possible to bike all the way to their destination.  Using the bicycle racks on the MST buses is a great bike-and-ride option for such times.

To help sponsor this first bike class, MST is gifting a Super Discount 31-day GoPass (one-month MST bus pass) to each graduate in good standing.  Being able to load their bike on an MST bus may mean the difference in getting to work, school, a health care appointment, or other destination on time.  And it can also help keep a graduate out of harm’s way at times–for example, if using a bike for transportation at night in a less-safe neighborhood.

Bay Bikes

Bay Bikes jumped in with support as well, donating bike helmets for the first graduates.  They know that boys ages 14 to 17 are required by California law to wear a bike helmet, as are all people under 18.

Bay Bikes has three locations:  Bay Bikes original location is on Cannery Row, Monterey; their Carmel location is in the Barnyard; and their new location is Aquarian at Bay Bikes in downtown Monterey.  They enjoy accommodating customers with varied interests–road, mountain, fitness, leisure, and more. Visit BayBikes.com to learn more.

Peninsula Bike Works

Peninsula Bike Works opened September 1, 2012 and was founded by well-respected veteran employees of other local bike shops.  Peninsula Bike Works donated to bike class grades some bike gloves, because they know gloves make a ride more comfortable, and safer too.

Peninsula Bike Works also recognized that clothing is usually important to teenagers, and for many, clothes are a significant part of how they tell the world who they are.

Peninsula Bike Works knows that many of the boys at the Monterey County Youth Center have been gang-affiliated.  Bike gloves help graduates of the bike class to identify by their apparel a completely different affiliation—that they are part of the bike community!

Fine Wordworking

Fine Wordworking, a writing and related services business, was established in Monterey in 1981.  Clients served are on the Central Coast and throughout the United States. 

Fine Wordworking, owned and directed by Mari Lynch, provided organizational and other support to launch this Monterey County Youth Center bike class.  These start-up responsibilities include securing sponsor support and volunteer instructors, facilitating team communications and media contacts, and more.  Throughout the first year, and as the second year begins, Mari also serves as class coordinator. She will continue as class advisor and would love to have a volunteer step forward who can help with coordinating duties. If you might be able to pitch in, please contact Mari (831-375-6278).

Thank you, Monterey County bike community!

Before the above instructors and team of supporters responded, this class was only a wish of the Monterey County Youth Center director and staff. Now it’s reality.

Summary of background, and related inspiration

A special thank you to Bikes Not Bombs for generously sharing their teaching manual, which can be helpful to anyone desiring to start up similar classes.  http://bikesnotbombs.org/resources/earn-a-bike-training-manual

Thanks also to Project Bike Trip for the photo from the Santa Cruz County high school (directly below), and for being part of the inspiration for this work.   

About volunteering

Volunteers have made Monterey County Youth Center specialty classes available in gardening, guitar, knitting, and more.  Now, thanks to the first volunteers, that long-desired bicycle maintenance/repair and safety class is rolling.

Want to help teach future classes, making this training available to more Youth Center teens?  Please contact me (831-375-6278).

All volunteers must be approved through a background check.  Among the essential qualities for volunteers: A congenial, respectful, and mature attitude; a genuine caring for the well-being of youth; a solid track record of following through on commitment; respectful communication and relationship skills.

Volunteers receive a Monterey County Youth Center volunteer orientation.

A Youth Center officer is present throughout every class.  The students selected by MCYC staff to be in the class have been at the Youth Center a long time, are settled in, and have been screened to participate.

How to talk to a teenager

Hey, teenagers aren’t aliens, they’re just people ages 13-19.  (And at the Youth Center, they are ages 14-17+.)  Still, some people might think, “I have bike repair and maintenance skills, and I have respect for the challenges of these teens.  I’d like to volunteer, but I’m not sure I’d be at ease, and effective, in talking with teens.”

If that’s you, here’s a hot tip:  With regard to more positively working with youth, our county is especially fortunate to have a great resource in nationally renowned master teacher Selwa Said, and in her students and associates at Honey’s Children, who work with Monterey County Youth Center teens. You may request Selwa’s brochure regarding her weekend courses on Effective Communication and Relationship Building by contacting Honey’s Children or by phoning Selwa at 831-394-8860.

Dear Bike Community:

Thank you for coming together to create the Monterey County Youth Center bike classes.  Please contact me (831-375-6278) to learn how you can support the success of these classes.  For general questions about the Youth Center, contact Richard A. Gray, Deputy Director for the Monterey County Youth Center, at 831-759-6700.

Do you have a bicycle no longer needed?

Maybe you’d like to give that bike a new life in the Youth Center bike class. Please contact Richard Gray at the Monterey County Youth Center, 831-759-6700 to see if bicycles are currently needed.

  • Bikes must be in good condition or of a quality that warrants the cost of parts to repair.
  • No red or blue bikes can be accepted. (Gears4Good.org accepts donations of bicycles and can use any color bike.)
If you have bikes to donate that are ready to ride, or would like more donation options…

Refer to “How to help: Bikes,  gear, skills for youth and others without.” There are many needs throughout Monterey County.

There are additional ways to help youth bike. For some examples, see  “Salinas youth and others for bikes:  Bikes make life better,” then jump down to “A dozen ideas to help get youth on bikes.” Some are as simple as cool spoke cards with URL directing them to bike safety and community-building connections. These ideas are just waiting for your support.  Please contact me to learn more.

–Mari Lynch

 

All posts about this class, as of 4/22/14:
  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]
  6. Sea Otter Classic Expo 2014 Supporters of Monterey County Youth Center Bike Class [includes third-year boosters, who provided grad gifts, parts, and supplies]

This post was first published 3/27/12 and was last revised and updated 3/13/13. For the most recent info, as of 4/22/14, see post #5, “Teach Teens Well.”

  1. Ed Mitchell says:

    I am in Prunedale & have two road bikes to donate that have been in storage for a long time. With minor maintenance they would be good for riding.

  2. marilynch says:

    Thank you, Ed, and for providing me your contact info. I’ve passed it along to the appropriate person, and you may expect a call the week of 4/23.

  3. Gretta says:

    Thanks for putting this great program together.
    We have some extra wheels: mountain and road, front and rear. Would you be able to use them?

  4. marilynch says:

    This class is my delight, Greta. And thanks for the offer of wheels. Please give me a call, 831/375-6278, to make arrangements to get those wheels to the class instructors.

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