What to do with that old mountain bike you practically NEVER EVER ride anymore

February 12, 2015 § 48 Comments

I got this letter from a reader. It speaks for itself.


Thanks for supporting the team. I really appreciate it.

I’ve been a Special Education and Social Studies teacher at a small charter high school in South LA for the past four years. During that time, some of my students found out about my cycling habit and began asking me about my cycling adventures. Competitive cycling is something that isn’t really seen as a possibility by many of the students. However, in the past year a small group of juniors and seniors came to me asking about the SoCal High School Mountain Bike League.

The kids were frustrated because basketball and volleyball games were often canceled. School busses would show up late or not at all. Referees would show up late to games. The football team existed, and then it disappeared.

These kids wanted to do something different. They wanted to go to the mountains, they wanted to ride trails, to camp, and to compete in a new sport. I told them that if they got the ball rolling, showed up for workouts, and took personal ownership of the club, then I would volunteer my time as their head coach. So they made the club happen.

We now have six boys and two girls who have been showing up for weekly practices after school. The catch? They don’t have bikes. They’ve been training by running, doing circuit workouts, and occasionally riding a trainer. But so far the mountain bike team has yet to actually ride a mountain bike on a trail.

Can you imagine what it’s like to have as your dream the hope that one day you will be able to ride a bike? I can’t. I’ve taken the easy acquisition of bikes and paraphernalia as a given all of my life. For these kids, what we do without even thinking is a dream so powerful that they show up after school and train their hearts out, propelled only by the slim hope that one day the dream will become a tangible, functioning, rolling bicycle.

The have have set-up their own fundraising campaign but fundraising is hard to develop within the community. So, having done their part, it is my turn to turn to the bigger and broader world, a world that their youth and their circumstances have until now made off limits.

If you can lend support in any way, either through hard cash, an old bike, clothing, shoes, helmet, or other equipment, you can make a difference in the lives of kids whose dream is the thing we do almost without thinking.

If you can put us in touch with people within the industry, that too would be profoundly appreciated. We aim to attend our first race in Temecula during the month of April. They may not have bikes, but they’re not lacking for big dreams.

Your support for these kids might include jerseys with our school’s name on the front; according to the SoCal League rules, that’s one of the requirements. Your support might also include helping us get registered for their first (and only) race of the season.

To put this in context, many of my students have to set aside scarce money simply to pay for taking the PSAT. They also have to set aside money for SAT prep classes, and a special trip to Washington D.C. offered only to achieving students. They’re a motivated, dedicated bunch, and however much I support their dream of riding bikes, I want them to keep their money for educational purposes.

The link to the student-created fundraising page can be found here: http://www.youcaring.com/synergyquantumcycling

If you have any questions about our school, our team, and our mission, please feel free to reach out to my personal email, and we can talk. Any way that you can support these amazing kids and gift them the Gift of Bike will be a wonderful contribution to the great wheel that endlessly spins, handing out good and bringing that same wheel eventually back to you.

Thank you for reading, and ride safe.

Matt Smith
Resource Specialist/Social Studies Teacher
Synergy Quantum Academy High School

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§ 48 Responses to What to do with that old mountain bike you practically NEVER EVER ride anymore

  • Michelle Landes says:

    Let’s help these kids!!

  • BigBug says:

    Matt Smith is a good guy.

    I have an old Trek mountain bike I will donate. Old and a bit heavy but fully functional.

  • Matthew Hall says:

    Nice! I’ll drop Matt an email. I have a 2006 Giant Anthem that’s XL. If there’s some freakishly tall high school kid, they might be in luck!

  • DangerStu says:

    I don’t have any kit but did send some money.

  • Carey Downs says:

    Let’s all help these kids get on the starting line in April. Thanks Matt for all you’re doing.

  • Deb says:

    Thank you, Seth! No old bike to donate, but did send a monetary donation to the fundraising site. Let’s hope your blog post reaches enough people to get these kids on bikes!!

    • fsethd says:

      You’re the best — thanks, Deb!! Looks like three people have already offered bikes.

    • Matt Smith says:

      Thank you Deb! We’re getting there. So many improvements in less than 12 hours. Some of the students are volunteering to help with parent conferences. I just showed them the fundraising page, and they’re speechless. It’s going to happen!

  • LesB says:

    I have little that would fit into mtn biking, but I can donate some American dollars.

    Matt: 2 suggestions:
    The Salvation Army at PCH & Anza has bunch of used bikes, mostly megastore clunkers, but worth checking out. If you find something approach mgt with your story and maybe get bikes donated to the group.

    Other hint: Post your letter in the SoCal section of BikeForums.com. And maybe the MTB section too. My guess is youll get #hitload of hardware.

  • hoggel says:

    I have a bike I would like them to have but I’m a few hundred miles out of the zip code. I put in a bit of money instead. Go kids!

  • Doesn’t say anything about parts. That’s all I got. One thing I would love to work on is getting them 26″ slicks. They should learn that all bikes should be everyday bikes. Giving them the impression that they pretty much need to be taken to a trailhead to be MTB’ing ain’t good.

    There was a time where I was riding a full suspension MTB w/slicks to MANY road events. Even did a 100 mile ride too! No I wasn’t leading the pack, but on bigger groups, I had no problem hanging.

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks! Please reach out to Matt; his email is in the post. They need everything!

    • Matt Smith says:

      Thanks Zesty!
      If we continue gaining support, it would be wonderful to consider having slicks and treaded tires. Being in South Central, there is no way to avoid asphalt, and we will be riding it! It’s just that, given the current state of team equipment, we would rather have a treaded tire.

      I can assure you that they are not under such an impression. To the contrary, a few of the kids wanted to ride from our school to the nearest trailhead! They’re already go-getters!

      Thanks again. Feel free to reach out. mattsmth@cox.net

  • LesB says:

    Refering to my earlier post re Salvation Army store: I was in the ‘hood so I checked it out, and only mtn bikes they have now are child size, too small for HS students. Check SA in your area.

  • GP says:

    I will put in some $$. Also, I rode the MS ride in Santa Monica this year and there was an organization that takes used bike and gives them to groups just like this. I couldn’t find the organization name but if you contact the MS ride organizer I am sure she could help out.

  • kcornell7 says:

    Donation complete. I gave my MTB to a local rider in need of a commuter and I still miss it….in my storage closet. I thought about sending my wife’s hard tail but sent donation instead. The wife is oddly attached to her first real bike.

    It looks like they have surpassed their modest goal.

    I am impressed by the initiative and the mentor-ship.

    I am moving for work….cash reserves will be tight. Keep us posted. I may be able to do more in a couple of months.

  • 900aero says:

    I would love to help with some bikes but I’m on another continent and so have just sent a little cash instead. Hope you guys can get rolling soon – send us an update when you do.

  • Tobylima says:

    Hey Matt, My wife would like to donate her mountain bike. Its an older Haro full suspension with cable disks and an aluminum frame. Its not the lightest bike around, but it is solid and in good condition. I live in Bakersfield, so we have to figure out some way to get it to you. Let me know if you know anyone coming this way and I’ll ask around and see if anyone is heading down south. Regards, Tom Morgan

    • fsethd says:

      Tom, hit him up on the email in the blog post in case he doesn’t see this comment. And thank you!!

    • Matt Smith says:

      Thanks Tom! I appreciate you reaching out. No rush, of course, but if I can facilitate in any way, don’t hesitate to contact me.

  • BobK says:

    What a great teacher. I gave several months worth of $2.99 that I should have been sending to you, Seth 🙂

    • fsethd says:

      Better there than here!

    • Matt Smith says:

      Thanks! I try, I try. I still have lots to learn, and to be honest, this is my first attempt at coaching something other than soccer, but I’m learning a lot. Thank you, Bob!

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