Genlynne Taylor spent a lot of time indoors as a kid. If she wasn’t playing video games, she was usually tinkering around with her latest robotic contraption. Her curiosity about bikes and technology was apparent even at a young age. But if she did go outside, and you wanted to strike up a conversation with her, odds are you would be doing most of the talking. “I was shy,” Genlynne said. “Even if you liked the same things I did, I wouldn’t open up to anybody.”
This was the way things went until Genlynne turned 14, when her already-cycling cousin finally convinced her to saddle up, for real. Up until then, Genlynne had been biking mostly for recreation, riding the bikes her father bought for her. But after two years of watching her cousin participate in group rides and competitive races, Genlynne finally decided to take her cycling to the next level. That next level, as it turns out, was CCF.
“I was the only girl that made it in my cycling team, so I guess you can say I’m advanced,” she said.
Genlynne’s modesty belies a fiercely competitive spirit. Before joining the all-boy CCF team, she was into creative writing (entering short story competitions), soccer, and going to the gym. “I like exercise a lot. I get to cut some more exercise out while I’m cycling now. So even though I do less time in the gym, I get to cycle more, so it balances it out.”
Balance is the operative word here because while Genlynne enjoys riding with her Neighborhood Bike Works teammates, she already understands the importance of giving back to the community and sees biking as a way to positively change kids in both body and mind. Biking, she said, not only encourages fitness and health but also brings kids together who might not have otherwise gotten to know each other. “If you like riding bikes and you don’t have a lot of friends, CCF is an open area where you can find people who have the same interests. Let’s say you meet a couple people who have the same rank – that’s two friends right there.”
Her efforts thus far have been rewarded with an invitation to CCF’s All-Star team. To enter, cyclists not only have to be talented riders, but exhibit certain qualities that lend to their development as a person. Genlynne admitted that she was surprised she got the call to the All-Star team because she hadn’t won a trophy all season. The secret, she believes, was showing perseverance, leadership, dedication, and the ability to learn from your mistakes–traits she repeatedly exhibited over the course of the season.
The last trait—the ability to learn from your mistakes—is a characteristic Genlynne values highly, because it has transcended biking to affect other important aspects of her life. Genlynne recalls a specific instance when she was in geometry class, staring at an equation she couldn’t possibly figure out. Instead of sticking with the problem, Genlynne remembers “throwing the book on the ground and walking out of the class; I hated geometry.” She gave up.
Fast-forward three months, and Genlynne is an active member of CCF. She remembers the challenging, abandoned geometry equation and decides to give it another try. Despite her fears, she solves the equation, and feels an increased sense of satisfaction knowing her perseverance paid off.
Staying on the same theme, Genlynne says that the most important thing CCF has taught her is that, as evidenced by her All-Star team berth, nothing can be achieved without hard work. It was hard work for Genlynne to step out of her comfort zone from a shy, timid kid to an outgoing, fearless cyclist. It’s hard work that’s going to get her to Full Sail University, where she plans to major in journalism or computer science. In fact, the only thing that appears to come easy to this gritty bicyclist are the soda cans her robot (yes, she built it) gives her (from a nearby fridge) while she sits on the sofa. But, then again, she’s not spending as much time inside these days.