Rode in eight miles of Levi’s GranFondo on their newly donated bikes
Enthusiasm can be infectious and that’s certainly clear when you spend time with teacher Jeremiah Kahmoson and his students at the North Bay Met Academy (formerly Windsor Oaks Academy). In addition to his work as a teacher, Kahmoson is also the Executive Director of the B-Rad Foundation, a three-year-old nonprofit whose “mission is to support youth and communities with getting outside and doing adventure, health and stewardship projects.”
It was through his connection with the B-Rad foundation, that Kahmoson, an avid cyclist, became aware of the program “50 Bikes for 50 Kids” being put together by the King Ridge Foundation, which is the parent arm of Levi’s GranFondo, the annual bike race extravaganza in Sonoma County. Of those 50 bikes, 13 came to the students at North Bay Met this year.
“I’m kind of a bike fanatic and one of the cool things about being part of the biking community here in Sonoma County is, it’s really close knit,” Kahmoson said. “I worked with (Levi Leipheimer, GranFondo/King Ridge Founder and Olympic Medalist) and NorCal Cyclery. Specialized is the brand that has promoted this program and we were able to get some legitimate mountain bikes for the kids.”
The gleaming black bikes are 2018 Specialized Pitch and the tire size is a 650 B or a 27.5, according to Kahmoson, which he describes as “oversize big, meaty mountain bike tires.”
They plan on using the bikes not just as transportation to and from school, but also as transportation for work on stewardship programs at Shiloh Park and Foothill Park.
“They’ll learn about the watersheds and trail erosion and all the different geology going on up there,” Kahmoson said.
For the students in receipt of a bike, the gifts have different meanings. “The thing about getting these bikes is not just getting a bike and having a bike that’s brand new,” said student Jacob Rasmussen. “It’s all about the stewardship were going to be learning through the bikes, what we’re going to be getting out of them and what we’ll be using them for.”
His peers, including Devon McNulty, agreed.
“Its awesome getting new bikes and being able to start our own little community, not just here at school, but also to get in with our local biking community,” McNulty said.
Several of the students marveled at having something brand new and all theirs.
“Receiving these bikes has been one of the best things I’ve ever received in my life, because I've never had anything new before,” said Dallin Torres. “I’ve never had a new bike, I had a used bike that my grandpa had been kind enough to buy and fix up, but it got stolen so then I was bike-less.”
Torres said her commute to school has been challenging in the past, but that the bike will be making a difference.
“The bike makes it so much easier,” she said. “I can get up at 6:50 a.m. now instead of 6:15, so I can sleep in way later.”
“And you have no excuses now, because I know you have a bike,” Kahmoson laughed.
Student Amie Trunick said she had moved a lot, previously, so owning a bike wasn’t something she could do before.
“It’s hard to get new stuff and all my stuff was used or found and so it’s really nice to have a new bike, something I can call mine and that no one else has used in their life before,” said Amie Trunick. “Its mind blowing. It made me cry when I got home.”
Some of the students’ work with these bikes will be very practical, as part of the career training offered at the school they will learn to service and repair their bikes and work in a bike shop. Extra tools and supplies like tire tubes have already been donated to help keep the bikes on the road, and bike techs from local companies are planning to donate their time to teach the students what they need to know.
There is also a “pay-it-forward” component to the bike program, as the students will then take their newly acquired repair skills to fix up donated and broken bikes and give them to needy children in their community.
“I always like helping others who are in the same situation that I am,” said Trunick. “I know how it feels, not to have anything for Christmas or birthdays or for everyday things like food or toys. It’s a lonely life out there for a lot of people and it’s nice to give back to the community.”
The 10 or so students who rode in the eight-mile portion of the GranFondo, did so with the company of younger siblings, relatives or neighbors who were invited to ride with the group. It’s all part of Kahmoson’s plan to use the bikes as a bridge to a better life for his students.
“What (King Ridge and Levi’s GranFondo) believe, and me too, is that a bike is a mode of independence and a mode of community,” Kahmoson said.
This story has been updated to correct the name of the school to North Bay Met Academy. The Windsor Times regrets the error.