So when my UCI team, Pasta Zara, decided at the last minute not to come to California to race the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Classic, I saw an opportunity to do some fun stuff. The Dare To Be Project is a 501c3 that I founded back in 2010. It is not actually a cycling team, but a non-profit set up to inspire youth in tough situations to embrace their adversity, to set goals with their lives, and to experience the freedom and responsibility that comes with having their own new bikes.
I think it is really important to understand that life is often not easy, and that everyone faces challenges and adversity. It is not if, it is when. And when this happens, how will you respond? They can control their attitudes and their effort, they can choose to work hard and make good decisions, they can choose to pick themselves up and fight on. It is my goal to impact and inspire. Then, because I am a bike racer and that is my tool, I take the opportunity to share an unconditional gift of a bike, a helmet and a lock. The bike is now their own, it is new, and it was not a hand me down. They have a tool to exercise and play with, to go back and forth to school or work on, and to have something of their very own to take responsibility for. I also want them to feel valued and important. Finally, the joy that comes with a new bike is priceless, and the memories of your first bike last forever. To be able to tie that to a message that inspires them to embrace their own adversity and to never give up in life is beyond priceless.
Last Monday April 1, in Redlands, California, a few days before the Redlands Cycling Classic, we were able to reach out to 30 kids. It was such an awesome chance to share with the kids, the staff, and my volunteers. Everyone involved had an amazing time. Huge thanks go out to Rock N Road Cyclery, Bill Langstaff, and Power Components. Their donations allowed me to make a difference in a few handfuls of lives.
Then with the racing side of things, JL Velo, who makes incredible cycling clothing, responded to my email. They were excited and wanted to help. They were also willing to take our cycling kit design and turn them into the real deal fast enough for us to have in time to race in. As a result of their efforts, I was able to enter a composite team in both the San Dimas Stage Race and the Redlands Classic. What a fantastic opportunity for me to open the door to some young juniors in San Dimas, and then some up and coming local California racers for Redlands to both experience the next level of racing and to show their stuff to the world of NRC cycling. I remember a long time ago when I started riding a bike with my underwear on under my bike shorts… I needed people to tell me not to do that, and I also needed people to help me find my way in the racing scene. Thankfully, I had people opening doors for me… It was so rewarding for me to have the opportunity to do that for some future champions.
Please check out The Dare To Be Project at thedaretobeproject.org. Also, the link to the team store where you can buy our clothing is at jlvelo.com/page.DareToBe.html. JL Velo is giving The Dare To Be Project all the proceeds from the clothing sales! Or, if you would like to donate directly you can do that as well. We are a 501c3. Donate online at thedaretobeproject.org. And finally, if you like what we did and can do from the racing side, contact us, and let’s do it again.
OH… And results… San Dimas- both my juniors made it to the last day with Joy McCulloch’s help. Then, I was 2nd in GC with a couple of 2nd place stage finishes. At Redlands, Tink won the Amateur Jersey! Emily did fantastic, Ingrid battled through some tough luck, Fiona learned a ton, and I ended up 4th in GC. That was a busy week for me.
By Amber Neben
Race Photos © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com