Ben Capron recently join NICA as a full-time staff member after almost twenty years with Specialized. We had a quick chat with Ben about the journey that led him to NICA.
Why did you decide to join the NICA team?
While on sabbatical from Specialized this winter, it hit me that I needed to fully commit myself to working with NICA. As a kid and throughout my life, riding has been a hugely powerful force. But my love for the bike isn’t unique; you can’t miss seeing passion in the eyes of every NICA student-athlete. That’s what this is all about – switching kids onto riding to improve their lives and the world we live in. I feel so lucky and honored to join the NICA staff and the larger NICA community on our mission to bring riding to teens coast to coast.
What do you see as the most important thing NICA has to offer youth?
The opportunity to know how much better life is as a rider…. seriously, riding makes you feel great, sharpens your mind, gets you around under your own steam and builds character. There are lots of people riding who wouldn’t be if high school mountain biking wasn’t around. And 99% of them said they’d keep riding the rest of their lives. The more the movement grows, the more people will have better lives thanks to biking.
Why isn’t there a high school team in every high school?
Well, there are some areas where every high school has a team, like Marin County. As new leagues mature and areas without leagues establish leagues, the percentage of high schools with teams will grow. I believe that one day all high schools will have teams. It might take a while, but it will happen. And then people will be asking, “What do you mean, there wasn’t always high school mountain biking?”
We hear you were quite the inventor. Tell us about some of your creations.
Everyone’s an inventor in one way or another. When we’re young we all innovate, try new things all the time. Then we learn to edit our creative impulses. But I digress… When I was in high school (WAY back in 1987) I was tinkering around on my Grandpa’s drill press (that I took out of storage and dragged into the closet of my bedroom) and came up with a mountain bike brake design. I had a few made at a machine shop and took them down to Mountain Bike Action Magazine. They liked the design, did a write up, and my phone started ringing. I started a company by mistake! My second brake was “direct routed”, a design that later became popularized by Shimano as the “V-Brake”. But the real message for all of us is to keep the creative force alive.
You have ridden your bike all over the world in your work for Specialized – tell us about your favorite ride.
Impossible. I have many favorite rides. The place has something to do with it, but really it’s about the feeling. And that comes from the people I’m riding with and whether I’m able to find the zone or not. The pure experience – when that’s shared with others it’s transformative. For Father’s Day I rode with my middle child over Mount Tam to Muir Beach. We met up with the rest of the family, splashed around, and then I rode back over the mountain with my oldest. I’d say those were probably two of my favorite rides.