June 1st, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 21
Boys and Girls Club gearing up for a wheel good time
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Boys and Girls Club executive director Karey Lee Watanabe hands Oliver Taylor a brand new mountain bike.
Pass Herald Reporter
Grayson Bellerose stood near the Blairmore gazebo staring up at a brand new mountain bike.

His peers were doing lazy circles in the grass, some fiddled with their gears, others stared up in wonderment at the new machines.

When asked how he felt about the bike, Grayson paused to consider his response.

“Good,” he said. “Thing is, I don’t know how to get on it.”

Young Grayson, one of the boys from the Boys and Girls Club of the Crowsnest Pass, should have plenty of time to learn to mount and ride the two-wheeler. The Boys and Girls Club has acquired 17 bicycles for a youth cycling program.

On May 25, club members rolled out of Alpenland Ski & Sports’ Blairmore location with 15 Specialized brand mountain bikes. The Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta donated about $12,000 to purchase the bikes, helmets and related safety gear. Alpenland supplied the bikes at a considerable discount while United Riders of Crowsnest (UROC) members also donated two jump bikes for the youngsters.

Boys and Girls Club executive director Karey Lee Watanabe is excited. This is a chance to continue sharing her love for mountain biking with the community.

“It’s awesome for me,” said Watanabe. “I get to spread my passion to my kids and my community.”
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“My vision for the youth cycling program is to encompass all the elements of cycling,” she said. “Including skill training, sport nutrition, maintenance of both the bicycles and the trails will all be part of the program.”

Watanabe is a professional mountain biker with more than 20 years of experience, primarily in Japan, where she lived and worked prior to moving fulltime to Alberta. No stranger to the podium, she’s a three time Japanese DH Series Champion.

Originally from Edmonton, Watanabe said she was captivated by the Crowsnest Pass area when she first visited nearly 6 years ago – to the point where she bought a house and started a summer business offering cycling tours and coaching.

Her Sweet Riders Mountain Bike Clinics have shown many adults the joys of riding and she’s looking forward to getting the youth in on the action.

Out of the 15 Specialized bikes, there are two 27.5 Hard Rock Disc’s, five 27.5 Pitches Disk, four 27.5 Jynx’s , two 20” wheel Hot Rocks and two 24” Wheel Hot Rocks.
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“I wanted these bikes to reflect the quality of our program,” said Watanabe. “They are light weight and built tough with good components that are easier to maintain and will prolong the life cycle of each bike. It’s like driving a Hyundai compared to a Mercedes…our kids are worth it.”

While mountain biking has been offered in the past at the Boys and Girls Club, it was never a regular activity, in part due to lack of trained cyclists and proper equipment.

“We now have more professional coaching and good quality bicycles available to offer a more professional program,” said Watanabe.

Watanabe would like to thank the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta for choosing to support the youth cycling program and also UROC, Sweet Riders, and the Boys and Girls Club for matching the grant amount of $12,000.

“A huge thank you to Specialized Alberta and Alpenland of Crowsnest Pass for giving us a great deal on all the 15 Specialized Bikes we purchased,” she said. “Another special thank you to the UROC Members Dr. Kristy Penner, Dr. Lindsay Swinton and Dr. Stephan Annand for donating the additional two jump bikes to the club.”
June 1st ~ Vol. 85 No. 21
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