Riviera Youth Bike Team pedaling toward a goal

A cycling team has been formed with the aim of getting at-risk youth interested in the sport while raising their self esteem and reaching a goal.

The Riviera Youth Bike Team was started by Zack Bertges and the nonprofit Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, with support from the Bialis Family Foundation. The team caters to children struggling with issues such as bullying, obesity, inactivity, low self esteem, financial hardships and learning differences.


So far, 17 kids age 10-13 are riding as a team members. They are being coached and trained for the 34-mile ride in the Santa Barbara 100 cycling event on Oct. 17.

The Santa Barbara 100 will feature three rides: 100 miles, 100 kilometers and 34 miles. The 100-mile ride also will include the Gibraltar Challenge, a 7-mile time trial climb up Gibraltar Road. (sb100.org)

The Riviera team meets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for workouts to prepare interested riders for the 34-mile SB100 ride. Sessions include park workouts, indoor spin classes, and on-­road group rides with league certified instructors.

“Our goal is to give children all the tools they need to reach and maintain their health and fitness goals in a fun, organized, and supportive team environment,” said Bertges.

The organization has received tremendous support in the community. The major supporters include Bialis Foundation (Ellen & Jon Bialis), SBBIKE (Christine Bourgeois & Mike Vergeer), the Santa Barbara 100 (Board of Directors, providing free entry to the RYBT team members), Hazards Cyclesport (Bruce Davis), Mad Fitness Santa Barbara (Marianne Madsen), Easy Lift Transportation (Ernesto Paredes).  Additional coaches and volunteers specializing in cycling, nutrition, and child psychology also are providing their services.

Bertges said the experience of riding in the SB100 will immerse the participants in the cycling culture. “We expect them to have a supportive and fulfilling day.”

The Riviera team riders will go through the finish-line chute and  be presented certificates of completion and awards on the SB100 main stage. A follow-­up program for the kids will be announced at this event, as well.

More information and a team application can be found at rivieramultisport.com

The Riviera Youth Bike Team is still looking for volunteers, donations (financial, bikes, clothing) and sponsors. For information and questions, contact Bertges at zackbertges@gmail.com.


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