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San Luis Obispo – In the throes of the early 2010 race season, Team Geronimo/Banshee Bikes carved out time to make an important trip to visit the staff and students of the Grizzly Youth Academy.

The campus at Camp San Luis Obispo is one of 32 such programs located in 28 states across the US, and the program runs 22 weeks.  The objective of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is to give at-risk 16-18 year olds (male and female) an opportunity to learn a better way of living, and from everything we saw, it is definitely working.  An important fact is that the students are there by choice, and judging by their attitudes, they have clearly regained their excitement about life.  They received the team with genuine enthusiasm as the magic of bicycling took over.

Pro racers Michael and Brian Buell, Graeme Pitts and Team Manager, Leslie Pitts brought an arsenal of toys for the students to try out – Banshee’s Legend MkII, Rampant and Amp, a trials bike and unicycle.  Starting with a formal assembly on Friday night complete with slide presentation and question and answer period, Saturday was reserved for the hands on portion where cadets got to play on the bikes (and uni). There were actually a few students who had never ridden a bike before, but there were also a few with moto and bmx experience who immediately started hucking whatever they could find.  They were introduced to a world they never knew existed - something fun, wonderful and healthy, and their imaginations were piqued – we even had a few offers to volunteer with the team and join us on the road!  The hard part for the team was not immediately inviting them all - their spirit of “can do” was electric and our mission was accomplished.

The ultimate goal of Team Geronimo collaborating with the National Guard Youth Challenge Program is – through private sponsorship – to bring bicycling to their program, which is already heavily based on physical fitness.  Major John Oberg administers the program at the SLO campus, and he is a bicycling enthusiast himself, having competed at Sea Otter in the past.   Major John Oberg - "Thank you to Team Geronimo for meeting with the cadets at Grizzly Youth Academy in San Luis Obispo and putting on a great informative session Friday night and demo on Saturday. The cadets really enjoyed riding the bikes and learning from you. Team Geronimo rocks!!"

For all of us inside our industry, this visit reminds us how blessed we are to be able to pursue our passion for riding and racing.  With any luck, our ranks will be expanded in the future with kids who caught the biking bug through Team Geronimo. Look for the team to visit other campuses as they travel to races this year.
For more information or to make a donation, go to the National Guard Youth Challenge Program website:

About Team Geronimo:  Team Geronimo is a collection of five Professional-level mountain bike racers and a select group of Junior Development racers specializing in downhill and mountain cross events. For more information about Team Geronimo, please visit

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