Volunteer/Ride Leader: Aron Springer
Student/Rider: Charlotte Springer, 10th grade
Team: Northshore Composite Gnarwhals
How long have you been involved with the League?
Aron: My son Andy started in spring of 2013 and I started getting more involved the following year, spring 2014.
Charlotte: I’ve been with the team for almost three years. My brother [Andy] got into mountain biking a few years before me. He enjoyed it so I thought I’d give it a try. My dad and I joined at the same time.
What led you to start volunteering?
Aron: I had purchased a mountain bike in the late 80s and still have it, although I didn’t ride it much. When my son Andy was showing interest in mountain biking I was intrigued. We started looking for a better bike than the cheap department store bike he was pounding into the ground. After the first year that Andy was in the League (2013), I decided it was time to step up for a better/newer ride for myself.
In the late 80s and into the 90s I used to race off road motorcycles, mostly cross country, and I put on a few events myself with the Skagit Motorcycle Club, so I know how much work it can be to put on a first class event. Within the League I truly respect how well organized all of the events have been, right down to the scoring, layout of courses and signup processes. I asked how I could ride with the team and Marne (Fox-Barrow, one of our head coaches) guided me through the process. Marne also said if anyone wanted to volunteer at events that they could always use the help. That really prompted me to get more involved.
When Charlotte got a little older she was showing interest in riding also, so I got her a bike and she seems to like all of the riding with the team and she is learning how to ride better and easier all of the time. Charlotte also helped me volunteering at checkpoints and marshal checkpoints before she was old enough to join the League.
Getting back out on trails and back into better physical shape made me feel great. I love to be outside and it’s something that I’ve always enjoyed. The best of all of this is that I have found something that I can do with both of my children and still share my love of trail riding with them and the enjoyment of being outdoors on trails.
What do you like best about it?
Aron: Being outdoors and seeing all the fun everyone is having. Seeing new areas to ride has been fun. I feel it’s a wonderful way to make new friends and show an an appreciation for helping with trail upkeep by volunteering at events.
Charlotte: I’d definitely have to say going out and riding with the team and getting to improve on my skills. Looking back and seeing how far I have come since I started is quite inspiring to myself and hopefully others.
What’s the hardest or most challenging part about it?
Aron: Trying to keep up with the kids on bikes.
Charlotte: The hardest thing about mountain biking for me is getting over my fears. A lot of it is learning to trust your bike and yourself in each situation. I like to think of it as the worst thing that could happen to me is crashing. Nowadays I just go for it and if I crash I’ll just get up and try again. One thing I’ve never been able to get over is my nerves before a race. I like to ride with the team and support my teammates, but I choose to stay off the course mainly because I truly don’t enjoy the aspect of this style of racing; I do enjoy the enduro style racing though. I’d say that is because I don’t have very many eyes on me and I can start whenever I please.
What’s been an inspiring moment for you?
Aron: Seeing all the students improve their riding skills as well as their general confidence and life-building skills. It’s inspiring to be able to teach kids (and sometimes adults) how to repair their own bikes. I’ve been a heavy equipment mechanic for years, although I have learned a lot about working on bikes now in the last 4 years. Andy is now working at a bike shop in Redmond (Element cycles) and he loves his job! (he’s pretty good at it also).
How has participating impacted you and/or the rest of your life?
Aron: I have found it very rewarding to help with events, coaching and trail work. It’s like being part of a large team in that it takes coordination and community to put on a well-run event. When I ride an event or take a training course, or just ride on a trail that has recently been worked on, I can really appreciate the work that has been done, mostly by other volunteers.
Charlotte: Riding with the League has taught me some great leadership skills along with riding skills as well. It’s a great place to make friends. Everyone is really supportive of each other and we all push each other to improve.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved with the League?
Aron: Start small, but don’t be afraid to do something you may feel you don’t have enough knowledge to do. Not all volunteer positions are hard. Just pay attention and listen to the promoters’ instructions and they will have all the info you will need.
Charlotte: I would say definitely give it a try. I mean, it was something I was very hesitant about doing at first because I was very shy and self conscious, but the League has helped me open up and become more confident in what I’m doing. There’s is no pressure put on you when you join. The coaches are really good at helping each person individually while teaching a new skill or while we are out riding.
What’s one word that describes your experience with the League?
Aron: If only one word I would say, Fun. But it should be Fun, Exciting, Challenging, Educational, and did I say Fun?