Mya Miller recalls her experiences biking before joining Cadence Youth Cycles, when her neighborhood block would organize an annual bike fix and group ride around the city.
So when Miller got to her freshman year of high school and heard an announcement for Cadence practice over the loudspeaker, she wanted to check it out.
“Cycling has opened my eyes more to what goes on on the road between cars and bikes,”she said. “I didn’t know how to put together a bike…or that you have to be at least four feet away from a biker on a street.”
Three years later, the junior at Mastery Charter Pickett Campus rides on the Cadence All Star Team and Touring Team, as well as sits as a member of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC), which works as the student voice of the program.
The team, now a support system for Miller, has changed a lot over the past few years.
“When I joined, half the team was supportive and the other half was upset because I was a slow rider,” she said, addressing a problem that, as the program progressed, the coaches put to a stop.
Now, Miller sees the Cadence teams as a family who support and encourage each other, finding her place on the Tour Team which runs over the summer to build up student’s endurance.
The Cadence Tour Team meets twice a week over the summer, and also provides educational opportunities with other local organizations. For the past two summers, Miller and her teammates have learned about watershed conservancy in the area through a partnership program with Rails To Trails, who want to help educate a new generation of trail stewards.
“After I found out that I didn’t have to be on a racing team, I just went to everything,” Miller said. “I went to the tour team practices, even events that we weren’t participating in just to show support.”
Miller’s efforts on the Tour Team and as a team supporter caught the attention of the 2016 Youth Advisory Council, who picked her as a representative for the 2017 YAC team. As a member of YAC, Miller has developed her communication and leadership skills in ways that have surprised her.
The four members of YAC work together to address any concerns of the student, and implement program changes according to what the Cadence student want to see happen, like the recently added cyclocross team that came about as a result of a number of students approaching YAC with the idea.
Communicating with students, coaches, and program leaders as well as the support from fellow teammates has made Miller feel at ease talking in groups and working to reach a goal, skills that go beyond just cycling.
“When you’re on the streets you have to communicate with people,” she said. “Then if you want to see something changed you have to talk to the people around you to get it done.”
“It’s awesome,” she replied simply when aside what it was like to be a member of YAC. “It’s just like being on student government at school, the students come to you for what they want to see changed… it’s like being a leader of a biking community.”