Years ago when I first met Trevor, he came to a photography show I was showing at and without much on an introduction related to me a story of how stoked he was to be a counselor at a camp for kids learning to ride mountain bikes. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to check out what he was jabbering about way back when. Bikes, cool. Kids on bikes, even cooler. Kids on bikes learning how to explore on bikes and have water fights, the coolest…
Mt Tam Bikes Camp is a summer seasonal camp that has multiple 5-day sessions throughout the summer. While the camp is the main focus, they also offer more personal coaching and guided tours outside of camp. Ryan Loften started the camp back in 2006, “After a year-long solo mountain bike tour he took through Nepal, India and Southeast Asia.” Since then he has taught thousands of kids about his passion for mountain biking.
We start our day meeting up at the church across the street from Ryan’s home in Mill Valley. The kids trickle in and get their bike camp shirts in all varieties of colors. Trevor herds the kids inside from some light stretching before Ryan introduces a new camper holding a stuffed carrot as a makeshift microphone. The kids then pile into the 3 vans packed to the gills with all of their bikes and head for the start of the day.
Ryan has the kids split up into three groups depending on the difficulty or ride they want for the day. I’m going to be joining the medium pace/difficulty ride for the day. Our ride takes us on bike paths, redwood trails, dusty fire roads, old dirt jumps, forgotten trails along creeks, and even a narrow alleyway lined with ripe blackberries which we stopped for some foraging. Trevor opts to show the kids some of his favorite shred portals all over Mill Valley for the rest of the afternoon, I can’t imagine there is a cutty trail that he doesn’t know of.
At the end of the day, we return to the church and walk to a nearby park for popsicles and a water fight! Ryan has homemade water weenies made of surgical tubing and plumbing fixtures. After all the water weenies are filled and distributed all hell breaks loose in a fray of spray and screams. Finally, the kids have exercised as much of their seemingly unending energy as possible its time to head home for the day, but summer days are long and there is plenty of daylight left.
Ryan and Trevor have been exploring the world by bike for quite some time, and I believe anyone who has shared in the joy and experience that can bring would want to share it as much as possible. The coaches at Mt Tam Bikes Camp hope to instill a sense of wonder and the possibilities of a bike as much as the skills needed to ride one on the trails of Marin. Thanks for letting me join in the fun for a day!