In 1986, mountain bike pioneer Marilyn Price pedaled the last strokes up Marin County's Mount Tamalpais and, as she caught her breath, she looked out across the panoramic view of San Francisco. She thought of the kids she saw on the streets of the city's Canal District and the ones who came into the soup kitchen where she'd been volunteering for two years.
"Wouldn't it he neat to bring kids up here on hikes who couldn'l afford to do it on their own?" she thought. From this glimmer, Price began Trips for Kids out of her garage. Its mission: to provide materials, moral support and inspiration for individuals or groups so they can help disadvantaged kids discover the joy of mountain biking. Its success earned her induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 1996. What began as one trip on the weekends with 11 bikes loaded in three racks on her Volvo station wagon has grown to a nationwide program with 56 chapters in the United States and Canada, 10 of which arc in the Rocky Mountain region.
These days, Price, 66, spends most of her time in the office as director of Trips for Kids National and Marin County. 1 still get out on my bike every day though," Price says.
The Marin County program, which serves as a model for other programs, consists of three components: the Trips, an after-school Earn-a-Bike Program and Re-Cyclery. Re-Cyclery is a bicycle thrift shop that Price began in 1994 when bikes had taken over her garage. home and backyard so much so that her neighbors started to complain. The bike thrift shop refurbishes donated bikes and sells used equipment. but it is also filled with new inventory donated by shops and companies. This September, Giant Bicycles donated 200 bikes to the shop. Located in San Rafael, Re-Cyclery funds 60 percent of Trips for Kids.
The program continues to need the donations to get kids on hikes. In September at Interbike, Marilyn darted between booths, finagling donations. The number of kids she gets riding through the program is impressive. In 2006, Trips for Kids Marin served more than 13,140 kids in the The Bay area.
The Earn-a-Bike Program is run out of a warehouse close to the Canal District. Tin, after-school program is geared toward instilling the value of hard work. Kids are trained in bicycle maintenance and repair and are then rewarded with a helmet and hike. Last year, the Earn-a-Bike Program gave out 2-U bikes. The Trips, tlic flagship of Trips for Kids, get the kids out in the backcountry to focus on the joy of mountain biking and soft reinforcement of social skills and environmental awareness. "Fifty percent or more of our kids have never been outside a non-city, non-concrete setting, but discovering nature is universal,- Price says. "We found you don't want to be preachy and teachy. Out there it happens by osmosis, by relating to a volunteer who points out a hawk."
Trips for Kids has held four national conferences. Price is especially enthusiastic about next year's gathering. when the Trips for Kids will work with the International Mountain Biking Association to co-host the IMBA Summit, July 18-21, 2008. in Park City. Utah.
Price, a grandmother of four, continues to work TO to 80 hours a week as Trip', for Kids moves toward its 20th year. "If env mind is working at 95, 1 hope I can still do this. I can't imagine doing anything else_ It's N' passion." For more information or to donate to trips for kids, go to www.tripsforkids.org.