East Hampton native Jason Lucas knows the challenges of finding year-round activities. He turned to cycling, something he could do through the off season from late fall to spring.
It also led to the launch of the East End Trail Blazers, a youth mountain biking team he co-founded in December 2017. Any student athlete across East End districts is allowed to participate.
Lucas started a GoFundMe campaign with a $15,000 goal to fund the nine-student team’s basic needs.
Lucas is team director of EETB and he co-founded it with team coach Andres Garcia, who has been an avid cycler since his childhood in Colombia, where the sport is wildly popular. When Garcia moved to New Jersey at age 15, he found a lack of cycling teams to join and events to participate in. Garcia met Lucas four years ago at Lucas’s bike shop, Sag Harbor Cycle.
Lucas and Garcia plan to use the GoFundMe donations to purchase safety equipment, jerseys, racing equipment, practice and race day food, and other basic necessities. The duo also hopes to be able to offer scholarships to underprivileged youth cyclers.
But there’s a catch. Unless it reaches its ultimate fundraising goal of $15,000, the team won’t see any of the donations. GoFundMe only allows donations to be released to recipients when the full amount has been fulfilled. It’s an all or nothing deal.
Lucas told The Independent, “Cycling for me is a lot of things. Really more than anything, being on my bike is a meditation from stress, work, or life in general. Once I get on my bike, I have the sound of the wind and my own thoughts. I can clear my head, get a bit of a workout. Physically and mentally, it’s about just being able to ride my bike.”
“Our mission is to give student athletes from Eastern Long Island an opportunity to try a sport typically not offered by schools in an organized, inclusive, and safe environment,” Lucas wrote on the GoFundMe page. “Our goal is to make sure that no [students are] scared off or feel like they cannot participate because they do not have the right equipment.”
The team is already participating in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association New York League, a mountain biking program for student-athletes across the United States, providing leadership, services, and governance for regional leagues to help them plan quality mountain bike events.
For more information and to support EETB and its student athletes, visit www.gofundme.com/help-fund-our-youth-mtb-team to donate.