MTP Hits the Green River Trail, Preps for Winter Build-a-Bike
The Major Taylor Program is celebrating a big fall rides season--and looking ahead to winter Build-a-Bike programs in Seattle and Tacoma.
Learn about the volunteers who make these rides possible, and consider donating to or volunteering for an MTP bike club in 2023.
On Nov. 12, Major Taylor Project youth gathered in Tukwila for a scenic ride on the Green River Trail, capping an exciting fall rides season for MTP.
The Green River Trail excursion followed a previous weekend ride on Oct. 29, when MTP youth pedaled from Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum to Magnuson Park along the Burke-Gilman Trail, as well as a ride through the Snoqualmie Tunnel on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. These rides through leafy forestlands on separated bike trails are an opportunity to enjoy safe riding conditions with lush scenery, says Major Taylor Project Manager Joel Allen.
“Many of the communities where these youth live are lacking safe biking infrastructure,” Allen says, “and they talked about how beautiful it (the Washington Park Arboretum) was, and how they want more of this.”
The Major Taylor Project supports Black and Indigenous teens and teens of color from systemically underserved neighborhoods in South Seattle, West Seattle, and Tacoma, connecting them with the outdoors, develop leadership skills, and gaining bike knowledge.
Snoqualmie Tunnel ride.
Like the youth they serve, the Tacoma and Seattle MTP programs have endured adversity through the pandemic due to school closures and health concerns. But they are bouncing back and gaining steam.
In Tacoma, MTP Manager Josh Stowell has been holding fall bike clubs at four schools (Mount Tahoma High School, IDEA High School, First Creek Middle School), with students from Stewart Middle School, Lincoln High School, Foss High School, and Gray Middle School traveling to attend those clubs. Stowell plans to start a club at Hilltop Heritage Middle School in the spring.
In Seattle and South King County, Allen is leading three after-school MTP bike clubs for about 40 youth at Tyee High School in SeaTac, Dimmitt Middle School in Seattle, and Cascade Middle School in White Center.
MTP Volunteers Make the Difference
Both Tacoma and Seattle MTP are hiring MTP ride leaders and recruiting volunteers. Learn more about becoming a volunteer ride leader here.
Stowell praised volunteer Phillip Lord, a Mount Tahoma teacher who “has been a hero for MTP. He always shows up, he is dedicated and enthusiastic, and he gets bikes donated.”
Zach Varnell, co-director of innovation at Partner Schools, is another big Tacoma MTP supporter. He helped MTP secure a meeting space for a bike club at IDEA–converting an old kitchen into what is now known as the "Bike Kitchen," Stowell says.
In Seattle, Allen thanked his MTP ride leaders Brooke Nelson, Teresa Kessenich-Chase, Zachary Tremblay, and Andrew Garcia. He also extended gratitude to MTP volunteers Phil Singer, David Cuerpo, Radfield Justice, Matthew Setter, Tim Fields, and Whitney Fraser.
Singer, Cuerpo, and Setter helped lead and organize the recent ride from the Washington Park Arboretum to Magnuson Park, missing the Cascade Volunteer Party being held at the same time. “That is a hero volunteer in my book,” says Tremblay, who also praised Fraser for her years of volunteering for MTP youth in White Center.
MTP Goes MTB
In April, we wrote about Stowell’s efforts to get MTP kids riding in Swan Creek Park, which features a network of mountain bike trails designed for both beginner and experienced riders. Stowell re-started the MTP mountain bike club at First Creek Middle School this fall, and the response was amazing.
“To have a mountain bike club in Tacoma is so exciting. This is a huge opportunity to get kids out into the woods,” Stowell says. “Many kids don’t know these great trails are right here. We want to help them discover this great resource. It’s a great time to be a mountain biker in Tacoma thanks to Swan Creek Park.”
Stowell became a dad earlier this year. That kid's got BMX in his DNA.
Over the summer, Stowell and three Tacoma MTP students participated in the Wednesday Night Worlds mountain bike competitions in SeaTac. “We’ve got three kids who are really jazzed about racing mountain bikes.”
One of the students, Mateo, broke his derailleur in a race. “But that didn’t stop him. He shouldered his bike and ran the rest of the race,” Stowell says. “That’s commitment.”
Seeking Donations for Build-a-Bike
Watching the MTP youth progress on bicycles and mature as young adults has been extremely fulfilling for Stowell. Some of the students he met as middle schoolers are now high school seniors. “It has been incredible to watch them grow.”
One of these students, Lextor, has developed a love for BMX riding. Stowell, who raced BMX bikes professionally as a youth, has given him several BMX bikes.
Another student, Crystal, has been with MTP since middle school and is now preparing to graduate from high school. “She got a new Build-a-Bike during the spring and she loves it.”
This winter, Stowell plans to hold a Build-a-Bike session during the rainy and cold months. Build-a-Bike gives MTP students the opportunity to learn bike mechanic skills and take home a bike they’ve assembled.
In Seattle, Allen plans to start a Build-a-Bike program in mid-January. “We will do a fund-raising push for Build-a-Bike this winter, and a snack drive,” Allen says. “Cascade is always looking for volunteers to assist as MTP ride leaders.”
Snoqualmie Tunnel ride.
- Major Taylor Project
- Swan Creek Park
- Josh Stowell
- Joel Allen
- Green River Trail
- Mount Tahoma High School
- IDEA High School
- First Creek Middle School
- Hilltop Heritage Middle School
- Stewart Middle School
- Lincoln High School
- Foss High School
- Gray Middle School
- Wednesday Night Worlds
- Phillip Lord
- Zach Varnell
- Bike Kitchen
- Brooke Nelson
- Teresa Kessenich-Chase
- Zachary Tremblay
- Andrew Garcia
- Phil Singer
- David Cuerpo
- Radfield Justice
- Matthew Setter
- Timothy Fields
- Whitney Fraser