Summit County bike group provides community service through cycling
October 2, 2013
When Scott Bierman first arrived in Summit County four years ago, he wanted to find a way to meet people. He'd been a member of a bike riding organization in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and figured seeking out something similar would be a good way to start. That's when he found Team Summit Velo, a nonprofit dedicated to cycling from the amateur to the professional level.
"When I moved here, I knew a few folks, but not as many as I wanted to," Bierman said, so he contacted the group organizers. "I said I really wanted to be a part of it, and the rest is history."
Team Summit Velo was formed in 2009 by Seth Strichland and Mike McCormick, with the goal of providing something for everyone. In addition to putting on communal bike rides, lending a hand with community service and offering educational outreach, Team Summit Velo has its own development team for young bike riders and it sponsors professional athletes.
"We're a grassroots cycling organization and our main focus is to grow the sport of cycling at the local level," said Bierman, who is now the Team Summit Velo sponsorship director. "We don't discriminate anyone. If you want to be a club member and just ride your bike on Sunday rides, or if you want to compete at the highest level that you can, we will represent you."
For the casual biker, Team Summit Velo is behind the community rides on Sunday mornings, as well as the Monday mountain bike rides for women. Participants don't need to be team members to take part and it doesn't matter if it's the rider's first, thousandth or millionth time on a bike, as there's something for everyone.
Bierman suggested that anyone who wants to meet more friends, like he did, or who wants to try something new should give it a try. There's no need to be intimidated by more experienced riders, he added, as the bike ride leaders will always take into consideration the ability level of those along.
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"We're not going to leave anyone behind," he said. "I remember when I first got into cycling, all of a sudden you're with a group and you're barely hanging on; it's intimidating. Sometimes you're not always willing to come back, and we want to make sure this is a lifelong part of the equation for people and allow them to have lots of different options — introduce them to the area, or have them get their expertise back, (and) just be a part of something that's a pretty cool thing."
Camaraderie among riders is also a part of the Team Summit Velo membership. Paying members get a special jersey and a few discounts at local bike shops; more important, they can participate in community service projects related to biking around the county. Just this spring, for example, a group of Team Summit Velo members spent volunteer hours building a new uphill trail at the Frisco Adventure Park. Members are also willing to extend their biking knowledge and education to others, Bierman said.
As a member, "when you're out on the trails or bike path, if you see people that look like they're lost or need help fixing a flat tire, (we help). We ask people to really think about and remember the time when (they) didn't know how to do that and give a hand, help people, lead them in the right direction if they need parts or are interested in buying a bike, just really giving back to the community," he said.
The development team is for teenage riders, ages 13 to 18, who are interested in competing in races. Helping introduce them to the sport and making it possible for them to compete appeals to Bierman.
"There are a lot of youth in the sport that never get the opportunity to excel. It's expensive, there's a lot of travel involved and some kids just don't have all the resources they need to get to that level," he said. "(They need) coaching mentorships, just a community that surrounds them and allows them to go, and what better place than Summit County for us to grow athletes in cycling?"
This year was also the first year the organization could fulfill its goal of providing financial sponsorship to several of its members, including those among the development team. At a dinner event last week, Team Summit Velo handed out more than $1,000 in a combination of cash and gift certificates, among its riders. Recipients were Andrew Dunnlap and Liam McDonnell and several development team members: Cameron Bobb, Claire Vandeyacht, Henry Trowbridge, Derek Hill, Cooper Orr and Christa Gutzel. The money is meant to assist the riders with race entrance fees and other expenses incurred in preparing for competition.
The scholarships were awarded based on leadership and effort, Bierman said. "They have shown the most potential, the most growth and the willingness to put the hours in. They're always there, they're always being a part of the volunteers hours. Not only are they putting in hours on their bikes, but they're putting hours into the community as well."
Although autumn is coming to a close and winter approaching, that doesn't mean biking stops for Team Summit Velo members. The competitors will be training and gearing up for races in warmer climes, while the rest of the group will be getting in as much road time as possible before the snow comes.
"We'll keep going as long as we can," Bierman said.
For more information about Team Summit Velo, group rides or becoming a member, visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SummitVelo.