Beyond mountain biking |

Beyond mountain biking

Townsend Bessent

many will say that we lack community in the Vail Valley. I would argue, after several years of living, working and recreating in different pods throughout the valley, that we have several. Instead of one epicenter representing the heart and soul of our community, we center ourselves around the activities that we love and the people who share our common interests. I distinctly remember having winter friends and summer friends when I was seasonally employed. It took many years to connect all of the dots. Those communities intermingle and coexist, bonding the valley together in exaltation of the activities that brought us together in the first place. Without those activities, Vail might actually be without community.

Part of being involved in a healthy community is giving back — supporting those around us and providing opportunities for others to appreciate why we love our valley and all that it has to offer. Enter The Cycle Effect. In 2012, The Cycle Effect began a program for local high school and middle school-aged young women centered around the idea that the mountain biking community is a positive and immensely powerful foundation to foster growth and create a sense of belonging while offering opportunities to build self-confidence and learn life skills that carry well beyond mountain biking. A common theme in the program has become “it’s not about the bike,” and I think it rings true for all of the activities that create the community we call the Vail Valley.

This is a collection of photographs taken during one practice day I had the pleasure of taking part in. A typical afternoon would consist of a group ride, mountain-bike drills to improve riding skills and a pow-wow before or after practice in which the team talks about anything from nutrition to what’s going on in their day-to-day lives. I can tell you that I learned a thing or two — most importantly that girls are tough, and they don’t cut you any slack for being a beginner in foot down. Oh, and 100 percent of their graduates have gone to college. That’s pretty dang cool, if you ask me.

If you want to get involved with The Cycle Effect in any way, shape or form, then contact the nonprofit through its website at

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