Nicolas Alonso: Riding For Community


Eric Lee, Editor-In-Chief

Not many people can ride a bicycle over 200 miles in a day.

Senior Nicolas Alonso is one of the select few who can. Riding with the Los Angeles Bicycle Academy and other cycling groups, he is also making a change, contributing to various causes to better his community.

“The purpose of L.A. Bike Academy is to give young boys and girls an opportunity to develop entrepreneurship and leadership skills through a bicycle,” Alonso said.

“Our goal is to eventually open a bike shop with members of the team and kids from the community working in it, learning from it. It’s an amazing opportunity to help the people around you using just a bike, which is really crazy to think about.”

The organization is launching an Earn-A-Bike program this summer, which will allow students to earn and refurbish their own bicycle while gaining hands-on mechanical experience and a host of other skills.

L.A. Bike Academy founder and cycling coach Damon Turner has been involved in the cycling world for decades.

“I got heavily into bicycling when I became a bicycle messenger in downtown L.A., around 20 years ago,” he said. “So I was literally getting paid to deliver legal documents by bicycle, and so my interest in cycling just naturally grew from there. 

“Then in 2007, I launched this nonprofit that is still here today, with the goal of getting more kids on bikes and giving kids in my community an opportunity to be involved with bike racing.”

In addition to mechanical experience, Turner hopes the program will embolden young people to move forward in other areas of their lives.

“If a young person earned that bicycle, it’s going to give them the confidence to take on say, videography, or photography, or accounting or whatever the case may be—and that’s the whole idea,” he said. “It’s not exclusive to working in the bike industry—it is just developing skill sets to take you to that next step in terms of whatever you want to do.”

The L.A. Bike Academy serves the local cycling community in a variety of other ways.

“We do outreach in the community—we’ll go to the Crenshaw farmers market, where we do free bike repair,” Turner said.

But the academy’s main endeavor is their cycling team, which competes and participates in various races and events across Southern California.

Alonso is one of the young cyclists on the team.

“I love it because it’s unlike other sports,” he said. “With riding a bike you can use it to get anywhere. 

“Cycling keeps me really fit and allows me to go anywhere I want without having to drive or take the bus. And I love being on a team with such great people.”

For Alonso, the adrenaline rush and sense of accomplishment are among the highlights of the sport.

“I’m addicted to adrenaline,” he said. “When I go downhill I reach speeds well over 40 miles an hour, which is a really crazy feeling, knowing one wrong move and it can be over. 

“Plus, the thrill of being able to do really long rides and feeling accomplished after is incredible. I completed multiple 200-mile rides, and the feeling after was just amazing.”

He also encourages just about anyone to take up cycling, if they feel so inclined.

“I would definitely encourage students and even teachers to take up cycling so they can experience how much fun riding a bike is, whether to get in shape or to use it as a form of transportation.”

As a cyclist myself, I concur.