I was standing outside the Sckubrats at the Center of the Known Universe a/k/a CotKU when Ken came up to me.
“Man,” he enthused, “the new Methods to Winning elite team kit is out and it is beautiful!”
“Yes! And your logo looks great on it!”
I was stoked. “That’s awesome! When do I get mine?”
He put his arm around my shoulder. “Seth, I said you look great on it. Not in it.”
Saturday Night Pizza
I went to the Methods to Winning Academy Team launch this past weekend in Santa Monica. The five riders who make up the team, Nigel DeSota, Erick A. Herrera, Michael Barker, Christian Molina, and Cesar Reyes represent excellence in bike racing, but they represent something else: What happens when people come together to support diversity in cycling.
Some of America’s best professional and elite bike racers have always been African-American. Marshal Taylor, Nelson Vails, Rahsaan Bahati, Justin and Cory Williams all typify the very best of the sport. But giving everyone a chance to take a pull and engage is something that has never been anywhere on the priority list at USA Cycling, or the USCF before that. Indeed, America’s first world champion in any sport, “Major” Taylor, retired because he could no longer endure the racism.
Fancy masters teams in SoCal, to say nothing of junior racing squads, typically have the diversity of Wonder Bread. And how could they not? When some of the sport’s shrillest voices such as CBR announcer David Wells appear to be, at least in my opinion, unabashed, card-carrying Trump lovers, the sport’s overall message may be subtle, but sometimes it’s clear: White riders only, please.
Fighting the good fight
Fortunately, led by the Bahati Foundation, Giant Bicycles USA, Muscle Monster, FFWD Wheels, Eliel Cycling, KMC Chain USA, Birdworx, Rock-n-Road Cycles, Specialized Bicycles, and Pioneer Cycle Sports USA, not everyone is content to accept the status quo. As one of the sponsors of the Academy Team, it’s easy for me to see what has brought this group together, and it’s simple: The original mission of the Bahati Foundation, which from day one has always been the motto “Give Back.”
The team launch was low-key but impressive, in other words, lots of great pizza. We heard a great presentation by Rahsaan, and watched this video that laid out the vision of Methods to Winning and its principals, who in addition to Rahsaan include Charon Smith, Ken Vinson, and reigning national champion Justin Williams.
The point behind all this is that if you want cycling or any aspect of society to be representative of the people who make it up, you have to provide opportunities. In cycling that means bikes, wheels, race support, entry fees, nutrition … and pizza.
It’s going to be a fun year for these enthusiastic, hard-charging young racers. Not just because of the racing, either.
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