Enter to win, and help the Grow Cycling Foundation create opportunity in cycling
“I feel like I’m slowly building a little bit of a stained glass window with my life.”
A year ago, Ellen Noble announced that she would be taking a step back from racing to focus on her physical and mental health. Since then, she has been discovering new ways to contribute to the cycling world. She’s dabbling with a podcast that she’d like to launch in the future, she is still spreading the joys of riding a bike wherever she can, and she’s even been spotted recently on enduro podiums.
Noble is the ultimate cycling ambassador. She understands as well as anyone how life changing riding a bike can be, from winning races as a three-time U23 cyclocross U.S. National Champion, to teaching her skills to a new generation of riders.
That’s why Noble is teaming up with the Grow Cycling Foundation. They have the same mission: To show young people and communities the myriad ways cycling can make a positive impact on their lives. Noble is donating a stunning custom Trek Boone to Grow to be raffled off in November (just click here to enter!). The bike is a replica of her 49 cm frame with a custom paint scheme and a SRAM CX build kit. The money raised by the sweepstakes will go towards the completion of a community pumptrack being built in Inglewood, Calif.
“Getting more opportunities to be outside and to recreate in a safe space, and for kids to be able to recreate with their friends and have a space that is welcoming to all ability levels, is such an important and magical thing for a community,” Noble says. “So for this to be going to a place in LA that’s such a big city, where it can be difficult to ride, this was just something that I immediately connected with.”
Grow was started by Eliot Jackson, who had a decorated downhill racing career and, like Noble, has become one of the brightest evangelists for the sport. He is one of the most prominent voices in downhill racing, most recently commentating for Red Bull TV when he wasn’t working on Grow.
Jackson started Grow in 2020 after reflecting on his experience as a Black athlete in mountain biking. The foundation’s mission is to “promote education, access and opportunities that increase diversity and inclusion in cycling.” The pumptrack is a major part of that initiative. Jackson hopes that it’ll host community events, as well as riding lessons and workshops in a city where safe spaces for bikes can be hard to find.
Working with Grow just felt like a very natural extension of what my parents did and what my dad believed in so wholeheartedly.
- Ellen Noble
Grow is also working to implement school programs in Inglewood that center on bicycles. With All Kids Bike, Grow wants to train kindergarten and first grade teachers to teach kids how to ride, starting with push bikes and graduating to pedaling. With Outride, Grow would focus on sixth-through-eighth graders to encourage students to ride together and build a pro-cycling culture around them. In turn, students may discover opportunities in cycling that they never knew existed.
“I knew that there were so many opportunities in cycling, and that was kind of why we started it. We wanted to say, ‘Anything you want to do, can be done through the bike,'” Jackson says. “But to see that firsthand, and to be able to say to a kid in Inglewood, ‘Hey, you want to be a designer? You can do that in cycling. You want to be an engineer? Yes, there are engineering jobs in cycling. You want to go to the Olympics? You can go to the Olympics on a bicycle. You want to just ride with friends? Yeah, you can do that too.'”
Noble connected with that mission on a personal level. Her father used to build skateboard parks in Maine, beginning when he was 18 as a way of making space for his friends and himself to do a frequently criminalized activity. He kept making skate parks after he realized they could give other young people a healthy outlet for their energy, too.
“My dad really believed that if you could get kids to do something after school, they were a lot less likely to get in trouble because they were bored,” Noble says. “He was very, very into skateboarding in general, but he also believed that because of the low barrier to entry and costs, it was a very special tool for especially young kids.
“Working with Grow just felt like a very natural extension of what my parents did and what my dad believed in so wholeheartedly.”
Jackson is thrilled to have Noble on board. Grow has had a lot of success working with Trek athletes in the past. Early last year, freeride legend Casey Brown auctioned off a one-of-a-kind Session frame that celebrated diversity. Then last October, Olympic champion XC rider Jolanda Neff gave away a Supercaliber with the same “First Light” paint scheme she rode to a gold medal.
As with Brown and Neff, cycling has always been about much more than racing for Noble. Jackson formally met Noble for the first time while working with her through Grow, but he quickly realized that she had a unique personality and a strong platform that would help Grow reach new corners of the cycling world.
I come from a mountain biking background, but I think cycling is universal. The message and what we're trying to do is bigger than just mountain biking.
- Eliot Jackson
“Ellen is one of those people who even if you haven’t met her, you feel like you know her,” Jackson says. “She has one of those larger than life personas. And so somebody like that, who has so much going on, so much reach, who is so good at what they do, for her to be interested in what we’re doing and wanting to support getting more people on bikes and giving back makes her amazing.”
For Noble, the admiration is mutual.
“I’m a huge fan of his and just love everything that he does,” Noble says. “And as soon as I learned about what their mission was, I felt like that was a perfect fit. And because there was already that connection between Trek and the Grow Foundation, it just happened super naturally.”
Thus far, the auctions and giveaways have covered a wide range of bikes and disciplines, from freeride, to XC to cyclocross. That variety illustrates an important point that Jackson and Grow like to stress: Cycling can be enjoyed any way you want. There is no correct discipline or path through cycling. As long as you pursue what makes you happiest, you can find a place for yourself.
“There are all these different disciplines that are coming together to support Grow Cycling,” Jackson says. “I think that’s really special because that is also how we feel. I come from a mountain biking background, but I think cycling is universal. The message and what we’re trying to do is bigger than just mountain biking. And it’s so cool to see athletes take that in.”