Guest post by Caitlin Trahan, Product Development Scientist at GU Energy Labs and Volunteer Coach for the Oakland Composite High School Mountain Bike Team
If you’re every looking for a way to boost your motivation and get inspired to tackle a season of training, I’d suggest you check out what the kids with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) are doing. It’s incredible how a little thing like mountain biking can have such a big impact, and the kids involved with NICA are demonstrating how commitment to a community can go a long way.
This past Saturday, I had the honor of attending the annual NICA awards with GU Crew from GU Energy Labs. We were tasked with presenting the GU Energy Extraordinary Courage Award to Kade Brantingham (Ridgway Composite, Colorado High School Cycling League) and Esmee DeBarssi (San Domenico School, NorCal High School Cycling League). The acceptance speeches by these recipients were incredible – both inspiring and heartbreaking.
One message in particular hit home for me – a student-athlete named Liam talked about how when he hears the word “they”, he instinctively replaces it with “you”. Or as he said it, “You is ‘they’”. He explained that when someone says they need to do something, they need to fix this, or they need to start this, it’s actually “you” who can get it started and get it done. Liam lives out this motto by carry a pocket saw on rides to mend to trails that he enjoys riding… talk about walking the walk! It’s kids like Liam that deserve the credit for bringing the mountain biking community together and improving our trail systems.
His motto reminded me of a message that former GU President Tal Johnson promotes with his plus/minus system. He encourages everyone to take responsibility for our trails and roads by keeping track of the litter you collect when you’re out on a ride. The goal is to make every ride “positive” with points for picking up discarded trash.
A few years ago, I joined the Oakland Composite High School Mountain Bike Team after viewing the incredible documentary Singletrack High. Since then, I’ve found that mentoring young riders has been an awesome way to engage in the community and shred with some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. (Thank you Oakland Composite 2014 Coach of the Year!) I’m proud to work for a company like GU that contributes to the community (specifically NICA), and I’m happy to spend my morning learning about the latest hashtag before turning drills and hard efforts.
To this year’s NICA award nominees and all the kids, volunteers and staff involved with NICA – congratulations on another great year. LET’S GO OAKLAND.