While Privateer was in California in April and May, exploring the state that gave us mountain biking and continues to lead the conversation, we spent a day at the NorCal High School MTB race at Boggs Mountain. Who should we find there working as the team wrench for the Drakes Pirates team? None other than Joe Breeze of Breezer Bikes and the MTB Hall of Fame. Here’s his take on why getting kids into mountain biking at a young age is so important.
“I’ve been wrenching for the team since my son was a freshman, five years ago – he’s off to college this year. My wife and I have sponsored the team from the start with Breezer. For four years they were state champions.
“My dad was a machinist and a mechanic, so it was like father like son – I’d be working on my three speed from third grade. That was my job: ‘Take care of your bike, kid.’ I just got into it and one thing led to another.
“I’m sure some of these kids neglect their bikes because they know I’ll be wrenching at the race at the weekend. For my generation, it was more about us kids doing it; it wasn’t about parental involvement at all. We had to fend for ourselves – if we wanted to fix our bikes, then we had to fix them.
“They were simpler technologies back then. You could see it and fix it, with quite a bit of creative latitude, because they weren’t that refined – as a kid you could come up with some cool creative fixes, using some creative tools too!
“Nowadays, with this NICA thing, they’ve got us adults fixing their bikes and they’re just kicking back, talking and I don’t know how this is going to pan out. They’ll get out of high school racing and be like: ‘Whoa, my bike doesn’t work, what do I do now?’
“There are a few who are really interested in how their bikes work and how to fix them, and there are kids who are working in their local bike shops, like we were back then. So this league racing will not only grow cycling as a pleasurable recreation, but also draw people into working on bikes, designing bikes, and build the whole industry.
“Something else we have over here is the Safe Routes to School programme. That started with a few pilot projects and Fairfax was one of them. From 2005 that became a national programme and it’s starting to cover a lot of ground across America. Between those two elements, Safe Routes to School, which starts in first grade and the NICA High School programme, we will see a change the way Americans view cycling – in 20 years’ time that will be vastly different.”
Read more in Privateer issue 16, available now. A more detailed preview is available on Privateer.cc Privateer and retrobike have teamed up to offer an exclusive subscription offer on Privateer, click here for more details.
Otis Guy & Son – Drake Racing
Photos by Daniel Sharp