Saturday was a big cycle day in Eagle but then again, pretty much every day is a big cycle day in town, particularly for the young women who make up the ranks of the Cycle Effect.
The Cycle Effect girls, together with other competitive high school riders and the town’s Haymaker Trail, have helped make Eagle one of the state’s premier cycling competition spots. Last Saturday the high school competitors were joined by both younger and older riders to celebrate the Haymaker Jam — a mountain biking and music festival that serves as a warm-up to the Colorado High School Cycling Championships that are coming to town in October.
While The Cycle Effect girls are out in force during both of these fall events in Eagle, the group actually works throughout the year. The Cycle Effect’s mission is to enhance the lives of young women through mountain biking and to empower them through mentoring and education. Late in 2010, Donelson Coaching set out to create an opportunity for local young women with the idea that committed and driven kids should be able to participate in a sport that many adults are so passionate about, no matter what their background.
So they rode. They rode bikes while building self-esteem, improving their fitness, and learning about nutritional opportunities. They received top of the line mountain bikes and equipment, were trained by professional coaches, and competed in race events throughout Eagle County and beyond. For many, it helped them escape the stresses of high school life and learn life-long skills.
“There is no question that the bike is the hook for our program. And once we have them hooked, The Cycle Effect is actively working with them to become the type of student that colleges and higher education would want,” says Brett Donelson, Founder and Executive Director. “This involves community service, public speaking, mentoring younger athletes, in addition to the life lessons they learn riding mountain bikes.”
Each girl took part in competitive mountain biking for the first time through this opportunity. Now they are a dynamic team – despite different backgrounds and challenges. As a group, the girls have overcome obstacles to become one of the Vail Valley’s premiere mountain biking teams. “My confidence has grown so much since I started riding my bike. I have learned that many things that I did not use to think are possible are with hard work,” Coco Andrade, athlete. “I think that is what climbing Colorado’s huge mountains teaches us.”
“It’s not about the bike”
“It’s not about the bike” is now a common theme in cycling — reflecting the idea that competitive spirit is the most important equipment for a cyclist. But at The Cycle Effect, it is also about the bike. The group’s leaders firmly believe that cycling teaches stress-relief, teamwork, acceptance, healthy competition, and determination.
Working to that end Brett Donelson founded The Cycle Effect to teach key components for success in college and a career. By 2015, his goal is to have the program implemented throughout the state.
Donelson and his wife Tam, have lived in the valley since 2005. Brett has worked as a fitness professional – coaching young athletes – for the past 10 years. That’s not all. He’s also a certified personal trainer, USA Cycling Coach, and USA Triathlon Coach.
Tam is the head coach of the Eagle County team, and her credentials and passion alone make her an ideal role model for any high school girl.
The Cycle Effect depends on supporters. Current sponsors include The Clinton Foundation, Liv/giant, the Dusty Boot, the Westin at the base of Beaver Creek, Peeples Ink, Primal Custom, Uvex, Pink Monkey Solutions, Yakima Racks, Access Real Estate, Kind Design, Axis Sports Medicine, and Vail Vision.
The group gratefully accepts donations for equipment, travel, scholarships and programming. To learn more, visit http://www.thecycleeffect.org