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A Bike’s Role in Creating Opportunity and Community – The LA Bike Academy

After over three months of patiently waiting for restrictions to ease, it was time to get the team together again for a ride. Damon Turner, an LA native, reached out to the riders of his junior cycling team, Los Angeles Bike Academy, and asked them to meet for a 60-mile ride on July 26th. This time, they had the opportunity to be fueled by science.

With a table full of Go Isotonic Energy Gels, Go Electrolyte, Beta Fuel, and SIS bottles, the 6 riders, plus a few others who volunteer their time to support the team, packed their jerseys and cages and set off for coast. Although it was a foggy morning, riding Highway One didn’t disappoint, especially since most of the riders can’t make it to the ocean often.

Damon, reflecting on his personal journey on two wheels throughout the years, is constantly looking for opportunities the team can learn from. When he received his first bike, the world opened up to him. He was no longer confined to a 5-mile radius in district. As he got older and more involved with cycling in LA, he wanted to advance diversity within the sport by providing a chance for young adults in under-served communities to ride a bike.

“There’s kids in certain communities that could benefit from riding a bicycle,” Damon simply states. “If a kid chooses to go down a certain path, he might be working towards something bad. If he has the energy to do that, then he could use that energy to climb a hill. It’s about creating an opportunity for young people who wouldn’t necessarily have one.”

While the first step is providing each rider with a bike, Damon’s mission is to have the LA Bike Academy be a program that encompasses everything surrounding the peloton. From learning the mechanics and how to repair a bike, to understanding the ins and outs of having a sponsorship, and even to how designers create bike clothing, the LA Bike Academy is an innovative and immersive experience.

“It’s about education; it’s about instilling and convincing [the kids] that there are other options,” Damon enthusiastically explains. “The program is about meeting kids where they’re at. You don’t need all the fancy gadgets. You just need a helmet and a bike. Everything else comes organically.”

To help provide the basics, Damon’s implemented the Earn A Bike Program within the LA Bike Academy, which is an opportunity for kids in underserved areas to receive a bike of their own. By writing a short essay about what they would do if they had a bike, a teenager can enter for a chance to win. This naturally feeds into the LABA team as the new rider connects themselves to the whole project and becomes self-sufficient on the bike. While the action is simple, providing the opportunity to earn effectively brings diversity to the sport, and even lends a hand to opening up the talent pool.

Like many teams and athletes, this new decade didn’t start as planned for LA Bike Academy. Instead of waiting for January, the team plans to head up to Manteca in late fall to start base training for the 2021 season. Damon and the team want to make sure they are in shape and spend some time safely riding together before the year ends. Ultimately, it’s the bike that brings them together.

When asked what’s at the heart of LA Bike Academy and the Earn A Bike Program, Damon simply states, “[it] offers the bike industry an opportunity to connect with amazing people. It’s a way to show that there’s commonality through biking…We have to look at the core of what’s going on, and if you just look at that, the connections can be made.”

If you’d like to help Los Angeles Bike Academy team and Earn A Bike Program create opportunities and bring diversity to the sport of cycling, you can donate here.

Los Angeles Bike Academy Website
Los Angeles Bike Academy Instagram

Written By

Alexandria Curtis