By Rob Russell and Trina Ortega
Ask them how cycling can change lives, and the founders of the new Roaring Fork Cycling Club will respond fervently, resolutely and perhaps even a little misty-eyed. Among the strengths the lifelong sport provides: independence, empowerment, self-reliance, social engagement, confidence, a love for the outdoors and fitness.
Those attributes are some of the guiding principles for Roaring Fork Cycling, which was formed in 2016 to provide skills-based cycling programs, clinics and camps for youth from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“Cycling is one of those sports that gives you as much freedom and excitement at 6 years old as it does at 60,” according to Aspen resident Jonathan Delk, who co-founded RFC along with Carbondale residents Rob Russell and Trina Ortega.
Delk has spent winters as a ski/snowboard instructor and discovered a love for cycling in the summers. That, combined with his ability for coaching, sparked the idea for the non-profit. He wanted to “spread the stoke,” he says, and last year also launched after-school mountain bike clubs at Basalt and Aspen middle schools that resume this May.
RFC will offer cycling-based programming in partnership with schools from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, as well as summer clinics throughout the valley. With a mission to “empower youth through cycling,” RFC aims to increase access and education to undeserved community members.
“We live in a unique place here in the Roaring Fork Valley. You can ride single-track from one community to another. You can go on a 40-mile road ride and pass through four towns. The youth of our valley deserve an opportunity to connect with their communities and the surrounding environment in a way only cycling can allow,” Delk said.
Russell, a Carbondale architect, values the relationship between coach and student athlete, and RFC is a way to continue working with kids in that capacity.
“If I didn’t have swimming growing up, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” said Russell, who coaches with the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club Nordic program. “Swimming is a lifelong sport, but it transferred into other sports for me. When I stopped swimming, I started riding. I don’t know what I would have done without coaches and passionate parents in my life helping me along.”
SUMMER CAMPS AND CONTACT INFO
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Photos credits Volunteer coach Ari Adler and the gang huddle up to discuss the day’s riding. bottom left Messing around at Prince Creek last summer. Getting dirty is part of the fun. Spencer Tuggle of Glenwood Springs wraps up another afternoon mountain bike ride. Juniper Anderson crushing the descent. [Photos: Trina Ortega]