Words: Eliot Jackson, Chairman of Grow Cycling Foundation
Hi! I’m Eliot. Apparently, I am old, so I should first tell you who I am. I realized this during Sea Otter when someone said that they wondered why Santa Cruz sponsored a commentator until they saw me on Bernard Kerr’s Youtube channel and realized I “also ride bikes pretty good.” Thanks.
Anyway, I’m Eliot Jackson. I spent a bunch of years traveling the world racing my bike. I’m really proud of my career. I got some top 20s and a top 10 at a World Cup, some podiums at Crankworx, did some cool videos, etc. After I stopped trying to go really fast on my bike ~3 years ago, I started talking about people going really fast on Red Bull TV. I absolutely love it, and working with the Red Bull crew and Rob Warner has been one of the most fulfilling, fun, and hilarious things I have ever done.
What is Grow Cycling Foundation?
Grow Cycling Foundation was created over two years ago to provide opportunities for underserved communities to experience all that the bike has to offer. Cycling has given me a life I could have never dreamed of, and I want more people to have the option to pursue what I have and so much more. Since we started, so many things have changed in the world, including me. We’ve come farther than I could have ever imagined, and I want to give you an update on everything we have accomplished so far.
I like to describe us as an infrastructure company. There are amazing people doing extraordinary things on the awareness side, but once you hop on a bike, where do you ride, who do you ride with, and how do you connect with people? We are building things to solve those problems, and we are starting in Los Angeles, CA. Specifically, we are beginning in the diverse community of Inglewood. A place where there are very few bike lanes and 0% of kids ride their bike to school. They do have a state-of-the-art stadium where they hosted the Super Bowl, though.
I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty strategy stuff, but we believe the two biggest levers we have are proximity and community. If you have to travel too far for access (trails, roads, etc.), it never becomes approachable, and if you don’t have an ecosystem around that access, it never becomes relevant.
Our solution manifests in Inglewood as an entry point, access point, and aspiration.
Entry Point: Inglewood Elementary Schools
If cycling isn’t culturally relevant in your community, how do you get introduced to it? We think the best way is through schools. It helps with safety, friendship, parent engagement, fairness, and so much more. We aim to put cycling programs in every grade in the Inglewood Unified School District school. This means we’re directly engaging with almost 10,000 kids.
We’ve partnered with amazing organizations like All Kids Bike and Outride to do our programming. Educators are overlooked, overworked, and underappreciated. The key was to get teachers excited.
We held party-style bike training, got them riding, and showed them how they could use the bike alongside their existing curriculums. We’ve partnered with UCLA to create a STEAM curriculum using the bike as well as build academic, research-based cycling education in 100% of our school programs.
Elementary School: 4 out of 12
Middle School: 3 out of 8
High School: 0
Access Point: Inglewood Pumptrack
Getting introduced to the bike is only one part of the equation. The second part is a safe neighborhood space where people can ride with their community. We knew it had to be in a public park, and we knew it had to be extremely high quality. The park is important because you want transportation infrastructure around it, and you need full-time maintenance and safety components built in. You want it to be nice because you need to change the perception of what a bike is and show that cycling can be aspirational, not just used for transportation or as a child’s toy.
We hired Velosolutions to build the nicest pumptrack we could imagine. We want this to be our fun and aspirational outdoor sports hub. We also want to foster athletes, build community, host events, and so many more things that you’ll have to wait to see.
Since this will be the very first pumptrack in L.A., based on other locations, we’re projecting well over 150,000 riders a year and half a million exercise hours!
Park space secured, contracts and permits signed, red tape cleared, and build started! On track for a Q2 2023 opening!
Aspiration: Jobs Board & Whistler Event
Once you ride the bike, where do you take it? If riding is aspirational, what do you aspire to be or do? We think it’s essential that kids know you can be an olympian on a bike, you can be an artist or engineer through the bike, and you can also just connect with friends on a Sunday afternoon with bikes. We have taken two steps here: our jobs board and an event with Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Tourism Whistler, and Crankworx.
The event in Whistler was extraordinary. We invited four women of color who are leaders in their communities up to Crankworx. They hadn’t been to Whistler, and I tried to facilitate the most incredible experience I could imagine. VIP slopestyle tickets, Sushi Village on Saturday night, dinner with industry folks and athletes, and tons of riding.
The purpose was fourfold:
• Provide Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Tourism Whistler, and Crankworx feedback around new rider experiences
• Collect disparate feedback that we can take back to L.A.
• Create such a magical experience that they share it with their communities back home
• Create a video highlighting their trip to Whistler to connect with other women/POC/new riders. (Stay on the lookout for this soon!)
1000s of job views a month, employment opportunity partnerships with multiple outdoor-industry companies and universities, Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Tourism Whistler, and Crankworx experience.
Ellen Noble Bike Giveaway
So now that you know who we are and what we do, I should also tell you that Ellen Noble is giving away her bike to raise funds for us. It’s an absolutely beautiful bike, and you should definitely go try to win it by clicking here! 100% of the money goes to our initiatives.