Culture

LA Sweat supports Blackstone Bicycle Works youth program

Women's team to provide mentorship and racing support to Chicago program.

The women’s racing team LA Sweat has partnered with Blackstone Bicycle Works to provide WTF mentorship for the Chicago-based youth community program.

“Blackstone Bicycle Works is beyond excited to announce our partnership with LA Sweat,” said Blackstone Bicycle Works program coordinator DJ Fish. “Through our work together, we look to shift the cycling industry towards greater inclusion and accessibility for young WTF and BIPOC Riders. With access to pro-level coaching, resources, and mentorship we look to create a community of inclusion and excellence, where young people can push and support one another in the pursuit of their goals.”

Blackstone Bicycle Works serves Chicago youth in the context of a full-service bike shop to teach bicycle mechanics, cycling, advocacy, and business operations. The program focuses on Black youth on Chicago’s South Side.

Blackstone connects Chicago kids with cycling in a variety of ways. Photo: Courtesy Blackstone Cycle Works

LA Sweat founder Kelli Samuelson said the team hopes to help young people in the Blackstone program by being sounding boards, “not just on the bike but in their life,” and to bikes, equipment and financial support to those who are interested in racing.

Samuelson said her team’s sponsors got on board after she committed to working with the program, including Specialized, Stages, Hunt, Santini, and Nuun. Additionally, Wahoo is contributing trainers, Samuelson said.

Samuelson said the team will be doing virtual meetups with Blackstone if LA Sweat riders traveling to Chicago isn’t a possibility in the near future.

“Our main focus for next year, regardless of whether or not racing is happening, is community development and rider development,” Samuelson said. “There are so many great things about the sport. We are a traveling little circus. There are lifelong connections to be made, and you can make a career out of it. It wouldn’t have happened for me if not for racing. Not every person is going to thrive off of a four-year college, or a traditional work path. So why not combine the two? Or combine racing with another career; that’s the beauty of bike racing in the U.S.”

Blackstone offers kids a chance to work in retail and learn about bikes and business. Photo: Courtesy Blackstone Cycle Works

As part of the partnership, LA Sweat is creating the LA Sweat Junior Development team, with the goal of bringing on four young riders. Additionally, the team is holding two spots on its elite team for BIPOC riders.

“With the support of our sponsors it was a no-brainer for us to partner with Blackstone Bicycle Works,” Samuelson said. “Their program is inspiring, and we want to do whatever we need to help foster and mentor their WTF BIPOC youth. We all truly believe we can make a difference in the peloton and help grow this sport for all.”

Kelli Samuelson (l) is the founder of LA Sweat. Photo: Courtesy LA Sweat