Jeremy Davis graduated from Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento last June. Jeremy raced for the NorCal League all four years of high schoo
l as part of the Luther Burbank High School Mountain Bike Team. Recently Jeremy spoke at the NorCal League’s annual CycleFest Dinner. Below is his speech.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story. I raced for NorCal for four years where I learned mountain biking skills and how to race, but I got much more during that time. I got to ride in places I never would have, like Santa Cruz, Monterey (where I met Tinker Juarez and Gary Fisher), Downieville and Northstar. I was only able to ride Downieville and the advanced trails at Northstar because of all my practices and races with NorCal.
Not only did I develop my mountain biking skills while racing for NorCal, but I also developed an appreciation for nature. Riding my bike in the mountains brings me peace, makes all my problems disappear; it’s just me, my bike, the trail and the fresh air. I can’t get that at home in Sacramento.
I faced many challenges at home. While I was practicing and racing for NorCal, people in my neighborhood, friends of mine, were active gang members getting arrested and even killed. I’m glad I knew my place was on a bike and not in a gang. Even though I never joined a gang, violence is a part of my community. Two years ago, my friend, who I’d just talked to that day, was shot in the head. He wasn’t in a gang, it was a case of mistaken identity, but it was really hard to know he was dead and that I could have been there with him that day.
Racing with NorCal taught me determination and helped me overcome challenges. There were many times on the trail that I wanted to quit, but other racers would cheer me on. Seeing them not give up made me work harder. When I got close enough to hear the cow bells, I knew I could make it. Most of the time. I made it despite my bike. Our team could not afford new bikes, so we rode bikes donated by the police department that we pieced together. Sometimes I DNFʼd [edit: “did not finish”] during races because my bike broke, not because I couldn’t do it. Despite my unreliable bike, I qualified for
the State Championships this year, the first year NorCal required us to actually qualify. I had learned to push on because it wasn’t the bike, it was the rider and I knew I had to make it on my own.
Today, I take that same motivation I learned during practices and races and apply it to my college work. When I wa
nt to give up or skip an essay for my English class, I remember I didn’t come all this way to quit. I am meant to keep going even when it’s tough.
Iʼm attending Sacramento City College studying Business Administration, and I hope to become a police officer, and
eventually a member of the SWAT team. This year I will take my place as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Police Department Mountain Biking Program because I want to prevent kids from having to experience the violence and death I experienced as a teen.
Thank you NorCal for teaching me to appreciate mountain biking and nature. And thank you to Officer George Martinez; because of you, I learned that police are people too and without you, I would never have gotten this far on my bike or in life. Thank you for seeing the potential in me and for welcoming me into your family.