Profiles in Leadership: Deborah Hage

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?

I’m originally from NJ, but I’ve been in NC long enough to be considered a Southerner.  My home trails are in the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) and I love them all, for different reasons.  I’m passionate about our local trails and am committed to the effort to help save the Lake Crabtree County Park trails. My absolute favorite go-to trail is Sanlee in Sanford.

How long have you been mountain biking?

While hanging with friends, watching a basketball game in Chapel Hill, boredom drove me next door to the bike shop and I walked out with my first mountain bike.   I guess I’m not much of a spectator.   That was 20 years ago.

What involvement do you have in the cycling or youth development community?

I’ve been leading rides for TORC (IMBA) for 8 years now.  I began leading when I found myself always in the back of the group, worried about people waiting on me, to the point it would almost override the fun factor.  I realized if I felt that way, then surely others must.  I think being a female leader takes some of that intimidation factor away from those joining in, as well as the fact that I lead rides from the back of the group as the sweep, so no one ever has to be last.  I also enjoyed time spent with the local chapter of Trips for Kids and hope that someday that becomes active again.

Deborah and NieceWhat is your motivation to getting more kids on bikes?

As a physical therapist, I’ve treated kids for pain they shouldn’t be experiencing at a young age.  Most of that pain stems directly from prolonged postures from extended use of electronics (video games and such).  Fortunately, it can be treated very quickly, but I think it’s best to keep kids active to avoid these issues and allow them increased potential for an active and healthy future.  What better way than mountainbiking?   Plus one day, I hope my 8 yr old niece will be shredding the trails!

Which is your favorite of NICA’s core values and why?

Wow.  Can I say all of them?  I wish they had this program while I was in high school!  As a previous student, I choose equality and inclusivity.  As a physical therapist, my answer would be a strong body and mind.  And as a human being, a strong character is more important than any of them.

What can you teach others through cycling?

Don’t underestimate yourself.  You are often limited by your own mind more than anything else.  For years I said, “I’m keeping these wheels on the ground”, because the thought of jumping was scary.   Well, this year I learned how to jump and absolutely love it!  It wasn’t until we were “lost” in the mountains, that I discovered I could ride well beyond my normal 2 hour ride times. Since then, I’ve completed many 6 hour races, a 24 hour solo race, and most recently the Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell.

It is acceptable to fail attempting something new, because that is how you learn and become better, but it is also very important to know your limits and not put yourself at risk to serious injury.   I want kids to know they can accomplish anything they want to.  They can clear that tough scary obstacle, learn new biking skills well into adulthood, endure a long ride if properly equipped, and enter races no matter their speed or skill set.

What have you learned about yourself through cycling?

I have learned that I have much more to learn.  🙂

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