Vail Today: Vail Valley non profit, The Cycle Effect, empowers girls through mountain biking (video)
By Tricia Swenson
Purpose, power, confidence, courage, family. Those are all words the girls from The Cycle Effect use to describe what this mountain bike program provides them.The Cycle Effect’s mission is to empower young women through mountain biking in order to create brighter futures and build stronger communities. This non profit organization was founded in 2010 by Brett Donelson, executive director of The Cycle Effect. His experience working with young athletes at Ski Club Vail and as the cycling director at the Athletic Club at the Westin gave Donelson the skills needed to create a program like this, but it was his passion to help build more than a mountain bike team that made The Cycle Effect a reality.“When I was thinking about creating The Cycle Effect, the statistic that stuck out in my mind was that a third of lower income minority girls were not going to graduate high school in our state. So I thought how can we use mountain biking as a tool to get girls graduating from high school and also pursuing a college education,” said Donelson. Through relationships with the schools, foundations and donors, The Cycle Effect has been able to send 100% of their participants to college.They also break down any of the financial barriers of the sport. The bikes, equipment, coaching and race entry fees are all taken care of by The Cycle Effect. This is also a year-round program, providing constant contact between the girls and the mentor coaches.“Many studies show that beyond parents, coaches and mentors are the most influential people in these kids’ lives. We just don’t teach them to ride bikes. Biking is the avenue, but it is how we connect with them, build a relationship and build their confidence up,” said Donalson.The Cycle Effect teaches girls to overcome challenges on a bike and translate that to overcoming challenges in their lives. If you would like to learn more about how local girls can successfully complete high school and move on to higher education, please visit http://www.thecycleeffect.org.