MOUNTAIN BIKING: Youth Cyclists of Nevada County wins national award | TheUnion.com

MOUNTAIN BIKING: Youth Cyclists of Nevada County wins national award

Mina Ricci
Special to The Union

Eleven years after its founding, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County has won a national award as USA Cycling's 2018 Mountain Bike Club of the Year.

Dedicated to getting more kids on bikes, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County (or YBONC) is a non-profit organization founded by local cyclist Jet Lowe.

Cycling has always been a sport for the whole family, but with a recent uprise in the number of young riders and simultaneous need to get more kids outside, help for youth riders was greatly needed. Knowing this, Lowe took action and created YBONC in 2008. Since then, the organization has drastically changed the local youth mountain biking scene.

The story of Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County is a wholesome one. When Lowe's own son David was a freshman in high school, he brought his mother to a parent orientation for the local high school mountain bike club.

"There I heard Peggy Smith, mother of Evan (who now coaches the Nevada Union High School mountain bike team) and Josh Smith, tell us how in two years her sons each lost 50 pounds from mountain biking," said Lowe. "Her testimony inspired me."

It was an epiphany — mountain biking is a great sport for physical fitness, reduces time playing video games and gets kids outside. Such an incredible activity needed to be introduced to as many middle and high schoolers as possible, but in order to do that Lowe needed a new system of support.

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"At the time, the only thing online was Trips for Kids and the NorCal High School Cycling Race League, which was just taking off," said Lowe.

Nevada County has long been known as a cycling wonderland. Filled with miles upon miles of incredible trails and view-filled fire roads, the county is an epic destination for mountain bikers of all skill levels. It even harbors a number of teams and clubs for older cyclists, but many of these clubs don't accommodate younger riders.

Driven by her newfound mission to help young cyclists in Nevada County, Lowe buckled down and shortly thereafter formed the non-profit Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County with help from Duane Strawser, John Seivert, and many other local riders and high school parents.

Since its founding, YBONC has continually gone above and beyond to support young riders in Nevada County. The organization donates to the Nevada Union High School mountain bike team and several local middle school cycling clubs, assists many cycling programs across Nevada County, helps create and organize local races such as the California Dirt MTB series, and works to promote the positive aspects of cycling to students.

It is because of these immense successes that the Youth Cyclists of Nevada County Foundation recently won the USA Cycling award. USA Cycling, the national association for all American cycling racing, recognized YBONC as 2018's best mountain bike club in the nation.

In the course of its 11 years, Youth Cyclists of Nevada County has helped hundreds of kids step foot into the mountain biking world, setting a standard for all youth cycling programs. Whether these local young riders go on to pursue mountain biking professionally or purely for fun, their lives are changed for the better, thanks to the organization.

Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union.

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