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Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County

By: Kelly Clarke  July 11, 2019

Club Feature: Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County out of Nevada City, CA earned 2018 Mountain Bike Club of the Year.

YBONC - 2018 Club of the Year - Mountain Bike

We asked YBONC to tell us about an outstanding member. They said EVERYONE!

"YBONC exists because our village family of parent volunteers and local partners. We all have busy lives, but our members adjust their schedule to make things work. It's awesome!"

YBONC puts on the California DIRT mountain bike series each year. "The California Dirt MTB is our fundraiser, and a way to advocate for mountain biking in Nevada Co. This single event serves as a target that accomplishes many goals such as trail stewardship projects with land managers and our partners. It funds our programs to support Nevada County school bike clubs.

The following article by Mina Ricci, pro cyclist and freelance writer, was originally featured in The Union.​

Eleven years after its founding, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County has won a national award as USA Cycling’s 2018 Mountain Bike Club of the Year.

Dedicated to getting more kids on bikes, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County (or YBONC) is a non-profit organization founded by local cyclist Jet Lowe.

Cycling has always been a sport for the whole family, but with a recent uprise in the number of young riders and simultaneous need to get more kids outside, help for youth riders was greatly needed. Knowing this, Lowe took action and created YBONC in 2008. Since then, the organization has drastically changed the local youth mountain biking scene.

The story of Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County is a wholesome one. When Lowe’s own son David was a freshman in high school, he brought his mother to a parent orientation for the local high school mountain bike club.

“There I heard Peggy Smith, mother of Evan (who now coaches the Nevada Union High School mountain bike team) and Josh Smith, tell us how in two years her sons each lost 50 pounds from mountain biking,” said Lowe. “Her testimony inspired me.”

It was an epiphany — mountain biking is a great sport for physical fitness, reduces time playing video games and gets kids outside. Such an incredible activity needed to be introduced to as many middle and high schoolers as possible, but in order to do that Lowe needed a new system of support.

“At the time, the only thing online was Trips for Kids and the NorCal High School Cycling Race League, which was just taking off,” said Lowe.

Nevada County has long been known as a cycling wonderland. Filled with miles upon miles of incredible trails and view-filled fire roads, Tahoe NF, Bear Yuba Land Trust, and Nevada Irrigation District trail systems. The county is an epic destination for mountain bikers of all skill levels. It even harbors a number of teams and clubs for older cyclists, but many of these clubs don’t accommodate younger riders.

Driven by her new found mission to help young cyclists in Nevada County, Lowe buckled down and shortly thereafter formed the non-profit Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County with help from board members Duane Strawser, John Seivert, Estelle Barber, Mike Meeske, Carrie Morgan, and many other local riders and high school parents.

Since its founding, YBONC has continually gone above and beyond to support young riders in Nevada County. The organization supports the Nevada Union High School mountain bike team and several local middle school cycling clubs, assists many cycling programs across Nevada County, helps create and organize local races such as the California Dirt MTB series, and works to promote the positive aspects of cycling to students.

It is because of these immense successes that the Youth Cyclists of Nevada County Foundation recently won the USA Cycling award. USA Cycling, the national governing body for American bicycle racing, recognized YBONC as 2018’s best mountain bike club in the nation.

In the course of its 11 years, Youth Cyclists of Nevada County has helped hundreds of kids step foot into the mountain biking world, setting a standard for all youth cycling programs. Whether these local young riders go on to pursue mountain biking professionally or purely for fun, their lives are changed for the better, thanks to the organization and community support.

Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union. Photos from YBONC and Jet Lowe.

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