A few weeks ago at the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Alabama XTERRA Pro Charlie Epperson caught wind of a cool story about what fellow elite Jaime Brede was up to as the Summit County Program Director for The Cycle Effect. He was so inspired by what he learned he wanted to share her story.
In 2010 Brett & Tamara Donelson founded The Cycle Effect in Eagle County, Colorado. Their mission then and now is to “enhance the lives of young women through mountain biking and to empower them through mentoring and education.” By offering teenage girls the opportunity to experience mountain biking, participate in competitions, and the chance to train with professional riders, The Cycle Effect has been able to connect with these young girls at a point in their life when each needed encouragement and to be part of something bigger than themselves.
The success The Cycle Effect experienced in Eagle County led the Donelsons to reach out to Jaime Brede to establish the program in neighboring Summit County, Colorado. Brede’s connection with Summit County and her visibility as a professional XTERRA triathlete made her the ideal candidate to launch this initiative in Summit County. Plus, with a background that includes skiing and barrel racing (horseback) she understands all about the power of overcoming fear and gaining confidence through athletics.
I was able to catch-up with Jaime following the XTERRA Southeast Championships while she was on a working holiday at her in-laws’ tree farm plantation in South Carolina to learn more about her role on The Cycle Effect team.
Charlie Epperson: When did you get your start in XTERRA racing?
Jaime Brede: I actually won an entry into the Keystone XTERRA on the radio in 2008? I was definitely not prepared for the race and I suffered through it but was hooked nonetheless.
CE: What are your goals for the 2014 season and beyond?
JB: My goal in XTERRA has always been to podium at one of the championship races. The caliber of athleticism in the pro ranks at XTERRA is so high – that would be a huge accomplishment for me. In general, my goal is to be the best multisport athlete that I can be. Ski, bike, run, swim – I love it all. If I could continue racing all of these sports and land in the top five, I would be happy.
CE: How did you get introduced to The Cycle Effect and what made you decide to implement the program in Summit County?
JB: I was introduced to the Cycle Effect by Brett Donelson, the program’s Executive Director. I knew his wife, Tam, from racing XTERRA and local XC MTB races. He called me one day, we had a few meetings, and I knew I would be crazy not to explore this amazing opportunity.
CE: How did you go about identifying girls for the program?
JB: Initially, I thought it would be as easy as putting up some posters at Summit High School and this did not prove to be the case. I ended up reaching out to the amazing network of non-profit organizations in Summit County. By working with Mountain Mentors, SOS (Snowboard Outreach Society), FIRC (Family Intercultural Resource Center), the Frisco Workforce Development Center, and the Pre-Collegiate program at the High School, I finally found a great group of girls to start the program. I also jumped headfirst into local networking organizations like the Rec Roundtable and P.A.N.T.S (Physical Activity Nutrition Team Summit) which not only exposed me to other programs in the area, but let me get the word out about The Cycle Effect.
CE: How are the girls taking to the sport of mountain biking, training, and being part of a team?
JB: You know, I have had some mixed results so far. I have some girls that are relishing the challenges of being pushed to show up and work hard, and I have had some girls say, “You know, this is just not for me.” I understand that mountain biking is hard, so I totally get it, but I am really psyched for the girls that are sticking with it. The girls that literally hit the dirt, get back up with a smile, and say, “I can keep going.” THAT is character. I’ve got a few of those girls on the team this year, and they are so awesome.
CE: Can you talk on how you brought sponsors on to support The Cycle Effect and how important they’ve been to the establishment of this program in Summit, County?
JB: Absolutely! Our bigger sponsorships with Giant bicycles and Dionysus Hospitality Group have been cultivated mostly by our executive director Brett Donelson and our Development Director Amy Cassidy. Our Summit County sponsorships have been a result of some relationships that I have formed over the years. For example, I have worked for the Breckenridge Recreation Department as an Adult Swim/Triathlon training coach for about three years, so they were a natural fit. Not only have they donated facility usage for our winter training, but are allowing our girls the opportunity to teach kids MTB camps and do course set-up/tear-down for the Summit Trail Running Series. I also formed a relationship with a local company called Altitude Foods that actually sourced an organic free-trade coffee (roasted by Golden Valley Farms) for use in a Cycle Effect coffee label. We have also gotten a lot of support from The Summit Foundation, who provided us with a grant to pay for the girls to race in the Summit Mountain Challenge this summer.
CE: How concerned were you initially with taking on such an important project and the impact that might have on your time to train and focus on racing?
JB: At first I was reluctant to take on the challenge of being a program director and coach versus working part-time at a bakery/coffee shop and training. However, I realized that I don’t have what it takes to make a full blown living off of racing, so what better way to supplement my athletic lifestyle than by getting girls on bikes? Working with the girls has given me so much perspective on my personal athletic journey. Racing has given me SO MUCH- it would be irresponsible to not share that gift with others.
CE: Any advice to other athletes or communities that would like to implement a program or be part of a program like The Cycle Effect?
JB: A quote that comes to mind is “Leap and the net will appear.” I found that once I dove into this amazing program and project, the possibilities and resources are seemingly endless. There are so many people in our local communities that value physical activity, see it as a vehicle for personal growth and success, and want to share that with today’s youth. A few things from my journey thus far:
– If you can positively impact the future of even just ONE person, you have done your job.
– Seek knowledge from those who have gone before you.
– Sometimes all it takes to be truly inspiring is to be truly inspired.
For more information on The Cycle Effect, visit thecycleeffect.org