Story 4 – San Francisco Composite

Three weeks to go!

Between now and December 15th, our goal is to raise $100,000 in donations to share youth cycling. We’re well on the way.

You can choose to donate to a specific league, or to the National Office to help grow the movement. It all counts toward the goal.


Photo: Kurt Wolfgang

Today’s story comes from San Francisco, CA.

This is Heather Pugh, Assistant Coach for the San Francisco Composite Team (and PT NorCal League staff member). She took the photo of Kai and Liam above.

We caught up with Heather, and learned the story behind this photo, as well as her experience as a coach.

What is your name?

Heather Pugh

What league are you a part of, and what role do you play?

I’m an Event and Administrative grom (laughs), and I’m an Assistant Coach for the SF Composite Mountain Bike Team.

How long have you been coaching?

This is my fourth year.

How did you get started coaching?

My boyfriend stepped up to coach, and the way that he was talking about it was pretty cool. So I went and checked it out and rode with the kids. I never thought I’d be a coach or be this involved with the team, but as I got to learn about the riders and see how they were growing and advancing in their skills, I wanted to be there more to support them and have relationships with them.

Tell us the story behind this image:

That image is from the first race of the season, and of course it was raining the day we raced. [Note: NICA Leagues are careful only to hold wet-weather events on courses that won’t be damaged!] The course was super fun and sandy. Kai is on the left and Liam is on the right, and both of them are laughing, but I don’t remember what was said to make them laugh. They’re both really quiet guys on the team–Liam especially. I think they both podiumed. We were all there at the finish to see them, and that photo was taken as they were collecting themselves, and I think they were laughing because we were congratulating them and they were really happy.

How do you think that image/scene represents the broader experience on SF Composite, and also in NorCal?

I think it’s applicable to both to say that we encourage riders to challenge themselves by doing a race. If that’s just finishing a lap, that’s a big accomplishment for a lot of riders. If [the challenge] it’s getting on a podium, then that’s what they want. I think finishing something, whatever it is, at whatever capacity, and having your entire team support you, is pretty special. It doesn’t matter what the result is, it just matters that you did it and your team was there. I think that applies to the league as a whole. We value when people challenge themselves, and that’s the result–that they went for something that was difficult for them.

Let’s go back to you: how did you first get started riding bikes?

I remember my first bike: I got it for Christmas, and it had training wheels on it, but not for very long because I wanted to be as good as my brother. Before that I remember riding his bike and I crashed into a UPS truck. I was riding down our driveway–it’s a pretty long driveway–and I kind of got a little out of control and hit the truck. But that’s beside the point.

My brother and I used to ride up and down the dirt road that we grew up on. That’s what we did together. Growing up my dad did maintenance at an apartment complex near the college, so when students would throw away their bikes at the end of the term, he would bring the nicer ones home. That’s how we got our bikes.

And then when I got older and moved out of the house I bought a real bike. It was so light and fast and everything… and I brought that bike with me to San Francisco. From there I did a bike tour and started getting into racing…

What’s your favorite part about being involved in the #morekidsonbikes movement?

I think that what we’re doing is a platform for so many lessons, and not just lessons about self-confidence and self-esteem, but also for getting kids out in nature. Hopefully that means instilling a sense of appreciation for nature and also having a healthy lifestyle, having a good diet and everything. It’s not just that we put on races so kids can race, or teach them how to ride bikes so they ride; it’s everything else that comes with it. #morekidsonbikes doesn’t just mean more kids riding bikes; it means more kids having appreciation for and understanding of how their bodies work, how their minds work, and how nature works.

What can we do to continue to improve the team, league, or NICA experience as a whole?

To improve it? I know that we’re inclusive, but I know we could do more. I know that getting a broader spectrum of backgrounds involved is an improvement. I think there’s the ability and capacity to reach families and schools and riders [we aren’t reaching] to be a part of this. It’s really special, and it’s changed a lot of lives. Not just riders’ lives, but their families and communities. I think that it could be improved by having more outreach in the communities it’s not getting to by word of mouth.

Thank you for your time–is there anything else you’d like to add?

San Francisco Composite RULES! (Laughing)

Help NICA leagues provide programs in their regions.

Help NICA start and support new leagues around the country.

You can help Share the Ride with even more coaches and student-athletes around the country. Will you help us reach our goal of $100,000 towards youth cycling by December 15th?

Don’t miss these great League opportunities!


New Jersey — Ends at first race!

New Jersey is excited to launch their first race season in spring 2017, and you can help them do it by becoming a Charter Member in their league. Bonus, you get this awesome NJ shirt!

Learn more here.


SoCal — Ends 12/15!

The SoCal League is aiming to raise $10,000 during the Share the Ride campaign. This support helps make cycling possible in one of the first NICA leagues. Will you help SoCal hit their goal?

Support SoCal here.


Idaho — Ends 12/15!

The Idaho League is aiming to raise $20,000 during the Share the Ride campaign. See the linked graphic to the left to learn what your donations accomplish!

Support Idaho here.

Thanks for Sharing the Ride!

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