A year of riding with Major Taylor

Last week, we bade farewell to Darcy Mullen, one of four AmeriCorps members who has worked at Cascade over the last ten months. Darcy immersed herself in the Major Taylor Project, and she did a stellar job. The remaining three AmeriCorps (Alison, Luke and Jenny) are staying on-board, temporarily, until four new members join us in October. As a footnote to that, AmeriCorps members add enormously to an organization, with their energy, ideas, enthusiasm and perspectives. If you're looking to hire, note that many AmeriCorps stints end in August, and a fresh crew is out there, looking to bring their talents to your workplace. --M.J.

Riding from Seattle to Portland with a group of 22 high school students and 25 adults is certainly an impossible task… at least that's what I thought when I first realized that was part of my job description upon arriving at Cascade my first day of AmeriCorps. I knew that I liked biking, and I knew that I wanted to work more with youth, so the Major Taylor AmeriCorps position was a natural fit.

I only had two simple jobs: to organize after school ride programs at select high schools in the greater Seattle area, and if the kids are motivated, offer them training opportunities with the possibility of completing the 204-mile STP. I also coordinating rides for Seattle’s Trips for Kids branch at Cascade.

Over the year I had many challenges – balancing safety with fun with groups of kids, half who want to ride fast and half who want to stay at the beach for the whole time, figuring out where to park the fifteen passenger van with a trailer full of bikes safely and securely, and then getting everything back out again, juggling multiple rides with different locations on the same day – but despite any difficulties in coordinating, every time I went on a ride with the kids (at least four days a week in the spring), I was always inspired by the positive impacts of cycling on our bike club community and on the individuals – myself included.

The highlight of my year was riding with the Major Taylor kids on the STP. Some of them had never been out of the state, and a few of them had never ridden more than 46 miles in a day. Over all, the kids were truly inspirational in how they motivated each other and worked with each other to get all the way to Chehalis and, ultimately, to Portland. Even though my year with AmeriCorps us up, I hope I get to join them on the ride next year!