Athletes’ Stories

Here are stories from the biggest successes in our program.
Sam Cowans

Samuel Cowans grew up in the Carroll Park section of West Philadelphia. He attended Mastery Charter School – Shoemaker Campus, where he joined the cycling team there after meeting Cadence Youth Cycling co-founder Ryan Oelkers in tenth grade.

Sam immediately took to cycling, finding in it both a passion and a motivational force which broadened his horizons and vastly expanded his expectations. He rode for Cadence Youth Cycling’s Shoemaker team until he graduated from high school.

Sam is now both a Cadence Youth Cycling coach and a student at Bucknell University, studying economics and racing for Bucknell’s “A” cycling team. He plans on becoming a professional cyclist by age 25, with his competitive sights set on the Olympics and grand tours.

“My mission is to be the most model and upstanding individual that I can possibly be,” he says. “I strive to be a positive role model and to leave a lasting positive impact on most people I come into contact with, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or whatever else someone may identify as.”

Krystal Philson

How did you first get involved in Cadence?

In seventh grade I was supposed to go to a new club in my school, and I accidentally went to the wrong meeting and I liked it so much that I ended up cycling.

Why did you stay in the meeting?

I stayed because, honestly, I didn’t know why there was a club for biking. I didn’t think biking was important, so I wanted to give it a chance and be convinced.

What are your biggest challenges in cycling?

It takes a lot of dedication to be a Cadence cyclist. There are many events that we have to attend early in the day and a certain percentage practices are mandatory if you want to be a part of this team.

What encourages you to attend?

I like the sport of cycling. I enjoy going out in morning with my friends. I enjoy the morning rides the most. My favorite thing about cycling is when you look past just riding bikes and focus on growth. I love looking back. I used to walk my bike up Rittenhouse Hill, but now I can get up within 30 seconds. Cycling has helped me with patience, grit, and determination. It helps me with my mental state as well as your fitness so you grow as a person.

What’s your best memory?

The covered bridges ride. Even though we didn’t get to finish, I enjoyed being with my team.  And the funny part of that ride was when the Race Team couldn’t keep up and rejoined the endurance coach; the ratio of coach to youth was like 1 to 20.

Where do you see Cadence in the future?

I want to see us have more schools involved. I want to see more youth leaders and the program expand.

More Stories coming soon

More stories coming soon…