This year Arlington was home to the National Youth Bike Summit which welcomed bike advocates of all ages from across the country and beyond. Our own Phoenix Bikes hosted the event including setting up key speakers, some, young mechanics from their own shop.
The summit brings minds and passions together to help build a bike friendly future. Involving our youth seemed like a logical step in this process....so began the YOUTH Bike Summit. Involving Phoenix Bikes in that was, well, a no-brainer.
Phoenix Bikes engages the youth around Arlington by giving them one of the coolest after school hang outs around. It's much more than just learning how to use tools to work on bikes however. These young mechanics also learn valuable life skills like problem solving, teamwork, processing, networking and communicating.
Samara is a sophomore at H-B Woodlawn and was one of the speakers this past weekend at the Summit. She hooked up with Phoenix after participating in a school club associated with the organization. She liked learning about bikes and working with the tools so much she continued working with Phoenix through their after school opportunities at the shop.
Now a youth mechanic at Phoenix Bikes, Samara earned her way up the ranks, improving her ride along the way. Students who come through the program have the ability to learn and earn, building bikes. One bike they fix up is donated into the community and the other they can keep for themselves. Samara now does more than ride, she races. A founding member of Team Phoenix, Samara races road, mountain, cyclocross- you name it, if it has wheels she's going to make them spin!
Samara is also very passionate about sharing her love of biking and racing with others so she was a natural fit to speak at the Summit. Besides sharing thoughts on racing Samara is also passionate about promoting cycling for everyone, most especially women.
Usman and Erik are also founding members of Team Phoenix and came up through the wrenching ranks of Phoenix Bikes. Like Samara, Erik joined Phoenix through a school program at Washington Lee High School. Erik knew all about Phoenix through his older brother Augustin.
Erik enjoys sharing his passion for cycling with new youth coming through the shop. He stands out as a leader by helping with repairs and mentoring new youth mechanics during busy days at the shop. Because of his comfort on the bike, he is also a great ride leader for community rides on the weekend.
Usman had a bit of a longer commute to Phoenix Bikes. Usman grew up in India where bikes are very popular, however, Usman never owned one. He definitely understands the connection between access and infrastructure. His father never let him ride further than 30 feet in front of his house because it wasn't safe.
At 13, Usman moved to the U.S. with his family. When he found out about Phoenix Bikes he 'moved in' making it a second home. He quickly earned his first bike through the program and then upgraded and tweaked until he was racing on the team. As more and more kids turned to racing, Phoenix Bikes answered by implemented a points for parts program that allows youth to upgrade their bike parts for work in the shop.
Usman is now racing for the local DT Racing team (as is Erik). He's only a sophomore at Wakefield High School, but recently started working at the local Trek Bicycle shop building bikes.