Profiles in Leadership: Vanessa Roth

Our Profiles in Leadership series will introduce you to some of the great people accross North Carolina who have been inspired to join the North Carolina Interscholastic Cycling League in our mission to get #morekidsonbikes.  We need YOU to help.  If you’re inspired, please consider attending our Leadership Summit on September 10-11, 2016 in Greensboro, NC.  Registration is open – so please take the next step and register here.

Where are you from/what is/are your “home” trails?Vanessa Roth
I live in Durham and my home trails are in the Triangle. Right now the RDU Airport Authority wants to cash in on them, including most of Lake Crabtree County Park, by turning them into an office park and a quarry. So we are fighting to keep them for mountain bikers and trail users and all who value green space for generations to come. If you haven’t signed the petition already, please do.

How long have you been mountain biking?
Growing up, my family was into traditional sports like tennis, golf and softball. But I was more interested in riding bikes, skateboards, and rock climbing. I first rode singletrack trails at Mercer County Park in New Jersey when I was in high school. It was when I went to college in Flagstaff, Arizona in the mid-1990s, that I got really into mountain biking.

What involvement do you have in the cycling or youth development community? 
I’m a member of IMBA/SORBA/TORC and the League of American Cyclists. For years I worked in education and youth development in schools and non-profit organizations. After college I was part of BICAS, the bicycle co-op in Tucson, as a board member and instructor for the community earn-a-bike program. At one point had a class from the nearby elementary school participate in our ear-a-bike program as part of the school day. A few years ago I helped out a little bit with Trips for Kids Triangle and the cycling team at the School for Creative Studies in Durham.

What’s your motivation for getting #morekidsonbikes?  
I tend to see things through a social justice and community development lens. Without a program like NICA, how will mountain-bike racing and access to competitive cycling in general really become equal-opportunity? A bike costs more than a basketball or soccer ball. And mountain bike racing requires race fees, access to trails, transportation and an adult to help with that. So let’s get more kids on bikes — especially the ones who otherwise would not have access to them.

Which is your favorite of NICA’s 5 core values and why?
I appreciate all of NICA’s core values. My favorite is building strong character. Developing respect for self and others and building confidence by riding and racing bikes?! Everything wrong in the world today could essentially be made right if everyone did that.

Tell us about a kid that inspires you.
The whole Durham School for Creative Studies Cycling Team inspires me. At cyclocross races there are youth development teams where the parents race and the kids race. And that’s great. But that’s not so much how it is for the SCS kids. They’re more like the underdogs. And they give everything they’ve got.

There are two sisters on the team. They’re from a culture where girls and women are not often encouraged to play sports or do things for themselves. Their parents don’t race. But they come to the races.

One of the sisters was always struggling so much during the races. Riding and racing seemed especially difficult for her. Though I wouldn’t say she looked like she was having “fun,” it was clear that she was building character. I think that even if she never rode or raced again, her racing experience will have helped her in a powerful way.

We need YOU! Please consider attending our Leadership Summit on September 10-11, 2016 in Greensboro, NC.  Registration is open – register here.