Daily Archives: 05/24/2019

Kona And the Vamos Outdoor Project Team Up To Get More Kids on Bikes!

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Paul Kelly Photo

We are honored to announce our partnership with the Vamos Outdoor Project. Vamos is a Bellingham-based group that works to connect communities to environmental education opportunities through fundraising, outreach, and partnerships with local educational organizations.  They primarily work with the Latinx and ELL community, focusing on groups that can find language and culture exchange opportunities to build a sense of place within their ecosystem.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG Paul Kelly Photo

We asked Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition Education Coordinator Char Waller and Vamos Director Andy Basabe to give us more information about the project, why WMBC became involved, and how the community can help it grow.

Kona: How long has the program been around?
Vamos: Vamos Outdoors Project started April, 2018, so a little over a year and it has been very successful.

Lacy Kemp | KONA COG

Kona: Can you give a little more information on the mountain biking program you have running with VOP? 
Vamos: The Vamos bike program began as a pilot last fall. We took the kids out on 4 rides to see how things could shake out with this group. At the end of the pilot program, both Andy Basabe, founder of Vamos Outdoor Project, and I felt it was definitely worth building into a full-fledged program. We received positive feedback from the community, WMBC board, Vamos board, and the kids. Receiving grants from Kona, Phillips 66 and several others in our community allowed us to move forward and acquire a fleet of bikes so that we could provide the youth with proper equipment, thereby creating a positive experience for them.

The program I have created is based on mountain biking, with an additional 1/4 time component of service learning/trail building included. There are certainly cultural differences and language barriers that have been a factor, but as the weeks have passed, our group has formed into a well-bonded rhythm.

Kona: What are the ultimate goals of the bike program?
Vamos: My ultimate goal is to get youth at risk and underserved youth in our community engaged in healthy outlets with the hope that they can make better choices in their lives and be good citizens as a result, and to create a trail building and mountain bike culture in Bellingham that these youth are motivated and excited to be involved in. We have the perfect opportunity to offer youth in our community a healthy and physically challenging sport that also has the right amount of adrenaline, self-awareness, fun, fitness and “cool” factor.

Larger goals include making traditionally white spaces appealing to Latinxs and people of color. Another goal of the program is that by bringing Latinx youth up to Galbraith, we are making present part of our community that isn’t seen in as many places. Connecting with WMBC and the mountain biking community, both very visible in Whatcom County, helps Vamos connect youth with other organizations.

Kona: What is the best way for the community to get involved with Vamos?
Vamos: The best way for the community to get involved with VAMOS is by connecting with us through our website, www.vamosoutdoorsproject.com, Instagram @Vamosoutdoorsproject, or at one of our community events. We are volunteer dependent, so making sure we have volunteers is a big priority for us. We would love to connect with more Latinx and English Language Learner folks on a volunteer level.

Tristan Lemire Takes the Win at the Mountain Creek ProGRT

Kona Gravity team rider Tristan Lemire is making his mark in the downhill world. At just 14 years-old, Lemire is no stranger to the top step of the podium. His most recent victory came at last weekend’s ProGRT in Mountain Creek, where he was racing in the Junior Expert category. That means he is putting in faster times than kids several years older. His time of 2:19.18 would have put him in 17th place in the pro elite category, which is pretty incredible considering the level of racing taking place in that category.

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

We caught up with Lemire to ask about the experience at Mountain Creek and his plans for the future. Make no mistake, he is one to watch!

“There are only 4 Pro GRTs this year on schedule, so clearly the vibe was great and everyone was stoked to race. Some of the world’s best riders were competing. And aside from some afternoon rain on the Friday, the weather was perfect. On my side, I felt much better  and confident than at the first Pro GRT in Tennessee back in March, where after a long winter without riding, I headed into the race with a new 29 inch wheel bike riding in the worst weather conditions possible. With lots of training and riding on my new bike, I was definitely ready to improve upon performance in Tennessee.”

After finishing 2nd in seedings, the highlight was definitely putting down a great race run and finding out I won the race, beating my seeding time by 6 seconds! I am also quite satisfied with my progression to date on my new 29-inch wheel bike. The only way to really gage this is in the context of a race! I am also confident that I will continue progressing throughout the season as I still don’t feel 100 %!

Caleb Smith | KONA COG

The crew at Mountain Creek put together an amazing track. It was perfect: fast, technical and mostly dry by race time. Pretty much how I like it! As it always does, the track changed lots throughout the 3 days, from muddy to mud to bone dry; this always makes it hard on us because it is like riding and learning a new track every day. Overall, despite the pressure of the race, every lap was just pure fun. On race day, when the track was at its driest, it made me think of the track at the Nationals track in Panorama, BC, a track that I also like very much.”

So what’s in store for Tristan in the future?
“My long term goal is definitely to race on the World Cup, first as a Junior and then as Men, and earn few podiums. From there, anything can happen. However, for the moment, I am just taking it year by year, focusing on the short term, enjoying the chance that I have to ride bikes as much as I do and loving every minute of it.”

From all of us at Kona, congrats, Tristan! We are excited to watch you progress through the ranks!