In the throes of the early 2010 race season, Team Geronimo/Banshee Bikes carved out time to pay a visit to the staff and students of the Grizzly Youth Academy.
The campus at Camp San Luis Obispo is one of 32 such programs located in 28 states across the US, and the program runs 22 weeks. The objective of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to give at-risk male and female 16-18 year olds an opportunity to learn a better way of living.
The students are there by choice, and judging by their attitudes, they have regained their excitement about life. They received the elite mountain bike team with enthusiasm as the magic of bicycling took over.
Pro racers Michael and Brian Buell, Graeme Pitts and Team Manager Leslie Pitts brought an arsenal of toys for the students to try out: Banshee's Legend MkII, Rampant and Amp, a trials bike and unicycle.
Starting with a formal assembly on Friday night, complete with slide presentation and question and answer period, Saturday was reserved for the hands-on portion where cadets got to play on the bikes (and uni). There were a few students who had never ridden a bike before, but there were also a few with moto and BMX experience who immediately started hucking whatever they could find.
Students were introduced to a fun, wonderful and healthy world of cycling, and their imaginations were piqued. Some offered to volunteer with the team on the road
The ultimate goal of Team Geronimo collaborating with the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is - through private sponsorship - to bring bicycling to their program, which is already heavily based on physical fitness. Major John Oberg administers the program at the SLO campus, and he is a bicycling enthusiast himself, having competed at Sea Otter in the past.
For more information on the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, visit www.ngycp.org.