It’s a relationship that’s helped foster some of the fastest young cyclists in the Pacific Northwest, and it continues again through 2014. Rad Racing, a youth development road, mountain bike and cyclocross racing team based out of Olympia Washington, has seen incredible success since it started in 1998. “Our partnership with Kona means a lot,” explains Jim Brown, Rad Racing’s Executive Director. “We have 100 per cent backing from Dan and Jake, and we’ve reached a point where it feels like family. When I go up to meet those guys every year, it’s like going up to meet a friend. We understand each others needs, and from the start, Kona has been a 100% believer in what we’re trying to do.”
2014 will be the 16th year of the Rad Racing program, and the 14th year Kona has sponsored it. Since then, over 300 riders have gone through the program. Some have turned out to be some of America’s best young cyclists. One of the program’s biggest wins was Nick Weighall and his U23 National Cross Championship in 2009.
But for Rad Racing, it’s not all about winning. It’s about teaching kids how to take care of themselves and set goals and work hard—life skills through the sport of cycling. “Steve Fisher is a good example of a great athlete that came through the program,” says Brown. “Fisher competed in the cyclocross World Championships as a junior, was a USGP junior champion, and now has a pro road contract with Jelly Belly. Still, he shows up to local races and leads pre rides for the 10-year-old kids.”
“Our partnership with Rad Racing truly embodies what we stand for here at Kona,” says Jacob Heilbron, one of Kona’s original founders and former Canadian cyclocross champion. “For us it’s about fostering positive growth in cycling—what better way to do that than by helping kids become better cycling athletes?” Every year, Kona provides a host of custom spec’d and branded road, mountain and cyclocross bikes to Rad Racing, including Major Jakes, King Kahunas, Zing Supremes and Jake 24s. For 2014, Rad Racing will carry 34 riders on their roster, representing the best and brightest from the Puget Sound area in Washington State. One of the stars to watch is 13-year-old Scott Funston, who, going into cyclocross Nationals in January, is considered a leading contender.