This is the first year the Bicycle Coalition is running the Cadence Cycling Foundation program. This spring and summer we will be covering the season as it progresses, bringing you reports from the teams and stories about these inspiring young athletes’ accomplishments and goals.
The new season of the Cadence Cycling Foundation is underway, with five teams holding weekly after-school practices. The spring’s first event, a time trial race, took place last Saturday in Fairmount Park.
The races began at 8 AM. CCF riders are ranked by category, A through C. Category A riders would do three laps of the roughly 1-mile course. Category B riders do two laps, and Category C riders would do one lap. Because it’s a time trial, riders were given staggered starts so there’s no jockeying for position. The race course was a loop of road around the Edgely Ballfields in Fairmount Park. The roads were not closed to traffic, but traffic in the park on a Saturday morning is minimal.
Brandon Formanes is a veteran of the program. Once a rider, he graduated and is now the head coach of the Mastery Charter: Shoemaker Campus team. Brandon helped Bicycle Coalition staff Megan Rosenbach and Cy Maramangalam run the event – the benefits of which included access to a megaphone.
This was Megan’s first time experiencing a CCF event in person. She reflected on meeting a group of girls from the KIPP team:
I asked a group of female athletes from KIPP, all new to Cadence, how they were feeling about the race; they smiled nervous smiles and expressed their jitters. These girls stuck close by one another for the reminder of the day. They were all in the C riding group, competing against one another for fastest lap around the 1-mile loop in East Fairmount Park near Laurel Hill Mansion. After they raced their hearts (and legs) out, they girls huddled together to stay warm in the cool morning air. Three of the KIPP girls placed first, second, and third in the C group. As we announced that Khayla had placed first, her eyes widened, she gasped, and threw her hands over her mouth in disbelief. Apparently she didn’t know just how fast she pedaled that mile; she had secured first place by over 15 seconds. The KIPP ladies displayed their camaraderie from the pre-race jitters all the way through the awards ceremony.
Anyone who has ever raced (be it running, biking, swimming, or even family reunion three-legged races) knows the feeling of nerves as time crawls towards the start. The athletes were nervous, and their nerves were shared by their coaches and the several parents who came out to watch. Brandon reflected afterwards that “waking up for the day’s time trial felt like being a kid in the CCF again.”
The day was not perfect. Two athletes took spills. Terry, a category C rider on the Girard College High School team, was participating in his first-ever bike race. He took the final corner too wide tumbled into the grass. Brandon recounts the moment:
Terry from Girard College High School had a spill in the final corner, resulting in some mechanical problems for the bike, and a few bumps for him. “RUN IT IN!” I yelled through the megaphone. A collection of cheers, laughs and smiles all erupted from the crowd of kids as Terry ran to the finish line. This was probably one of my favorite moments of the day.
Megan was also there to witness Terry’s spill.
As he was closing in on the finish line, he took the final turn too wide and tumbled off of his bike into the grass. He got up just as quickly as he had hit the ground, letting us know that he was not badly injured. It is not the fall, however, that makes this story special. Terry’s positive attitude after the fall was a great example to his fellow athletes. He calmly cleaned his scrapes, put on bandages and cheered for other athletes as they crossed the finish line. Other athletes showed their support and made sure that Terry was proud for being the first to hit the ground; the first crash is a place of honor and nothing to be ashamed of. Terry’s fall demonstrated his resolve and resiliency and displayed the positive environment that Cadence coaches and athletes create for one another through the struggles and the triumphs.
The final race of the day was the Category A race, featuring two riders: Robert from team Neighborhood Bike Works and Jebren from Mastery: Shoemaker. The showcase of the two fastest riders was marred by a scary moment. Jebren was doored by someone opening their car door as he was finishing his first lap.
The athletes and staff waiting at the start for Jebren to fly by instead saw Robert riding back the way he had come. Robert had turned around to bike back the shorter distance to get help. Fortunately Jebren only suffered bumps and bruises, and the driver of the vehicle was apologetic and cooperative.
The morning concluded with a trophy ceremony. Neither Category A rider finished the race, but Robert was granted the 1st place trophy for displaying outstanding sportsmanship in putting Jebren ahead of his personal lap time. The winners:
After the race the athletes joined Bicycle Coalition staff and donors for a brunch in the park. Brandon reflected on the day:
As a teen in the CCF, events like this were always a moment where the phrase “It’ll only hurt for a second,” would come to mind. At the least, your bike got a new scratch that wasn’t there the night before, or at the worst you had a few more than you did before the race started. Now, as a coach, we worry for our kids and we found ourselves praying that the day would go smoothly, to which for the most part our prayers were answered….Overall the day was a huge success, Jebren showed up to practice on Tuesday and is in good spirits and excited for the next race. All of the kids had a great time. I just hope I get to use the megaphone again at the next event!
What is the Cadence Cycling Foundation?
CCF engages youth through the sport of cycling to help them grow into healthy, responsible, and confident adults. In 2014, CCF will run 12 teams in North and West Philadelphia that impact 130 youth. CCF youth increase their physical fitness and well-being through cycling practices and nutrition education. Each cycling practice also incorporates teaching life-skills, such as teamwork, perseverance, and goal setting. Our student athletes are given opportunities to excel academically through SAT prep courses and college workshops. Learn more on our program page.