Major Taylor Project rides STP

Guest post by Saul Segura, Major Taylor Project Volunteer

In July, the Major Taylor Project celebrated its fifth year of participating in the Seattle to Portland Cycling Classic.  A pack of 35 students and 25 project volunteers completed the 204-mile-journey in record time.  Since 2009, 110 Major Taylor students from SeaTac, Burien, White Center and Southeast Seattle have completed the STP.  Key elements to the Project’s success are the amazing volunteers that support the students.  Saul Segura was one of our volunteers on the STP this year.  I think his words illustrate the impact this program has on these students:

Herding cats is a daunting task. Herding a large group of adrenaline-filled teens is infinitely harder. However, the staff was up to the task as we gathered in front of the Cascade Bicycle Club office in Magnuson Park at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, July 13. The sun was not even up but the students were most decidedly ready. The atmosphere was electric. Finally, we were divided into “manageable” riding groups according to desired pace with several adults providing the leadership. I picked the fast group with an anticipated pace of 18 mph.

As usually happens in group riding, someone always breaks away never to be seen again until the end of the ride or at a regroup location. This time the breakaway rider was a very agile and capable young lady in my group. I knew that she was feeling the effects of adrenaline pumping through her body and I tried to calm her down to a more lasting pace. My efforts were for naught so I let her go. And, yes, I did see her again at our campsite in Chehalis, safe and sound.

Another student rode to Puyallup and informed us that he was toast. I admire his maturity in knowing his limits and when to call for sag time. We called the van and 30 to 45 minutes later, he was picked up and I entertained passing thoughts about catching up with my group. The reality of this was that I would never be able to bridge the gap so I joined a following group and rode into camp with them.

All the groups seemed to be a fluid organization with members changing as the need dictated. This was true not only for the students but for the adult leaders also, and I found myself riding with at least four different groups on Saturday. However, our departure from Chehalis (at 6 in the morning) was staggered with the more leisurely-paced riders going first while the speed demons left last. My legs were feeling much better so I stayed with the last group to test my legs. Our group consisted of four adults and only one student. He rode like a champ despite having rear derailleur issues that did not permit shifting into lower gears for climbing. We did manage to get the bike fixed after two attempts and he stayed with our 17 to 20 mph pace.

We entered Portland and stopped at the University of Portland to wait for everyone behind us. Traditionally, all the Major Taylor students finish as one group and this year was no exception. Spectators were clapping as a group chanted “Major” which was answered by a second group of voices with a “Taylor.” The effect was quite impressive and showed tremendous pride in the achievement of riding over 200 miles.

So, what was my impression? This was my first ride with this dynamic group of young people and I was very much impressed. During my two days with them, I did not hear one cross word exchanged with anyone. Everyone was very well behaved, courteous and attentive to the directions that the adult leaders gave. All the while, the students rode in a safe manner and had great fun and camaraderie. If these young people are an example of what our community looks like in the future, we have nothing to worry about. They are great and deserve our support for them to continue to grow into their own leadership roles.

Major Taylor Project, nicely done!

 

Interested in getting more undeserved kids in your community on bicycles?  Find out how to support the Major Taylor Project here.