Life in our Foothills December 2022 – Pedal Up Polk Helps Santa Put Bikes Under Christmas Trees
Published 11:59 am Thursday, December 22, 2022
Nothing says Christmas like giving, and Pedal Up, Inc., a nonprofit charity based out of Tryon and founded by sixteen-year-old Graham Turner, truly embodies the spirit of the season.
Pedal Up Polk’s motto is “Teach. Give. Ride.” This summarizes the charity’s message to parents and kids, and encourages them to share the gift of bicycling.
The organization’s mission is to improve the lives of Polk County’s young people by introducing them to biking and its many benefits. They strive to provide rewarding biking experiences for local kids by giving them the experience of owning and riding a bike.
Founder Graham Turner, a rising 11th-grader at Polk High School, began the program in 9th grade as a school project while living in Charlotte. When his family moved to Polk County, he brought it with him. The Christmas Experience is one of the first programs they’ve held since arriving, with the goal of providing up to fifteen bicycles for local kids.
“My goal is to promote bike riding here in Polk County,” Turner explained. “And to help get bikes into the hands of kids here through the giving campaigns. Individuals in the community and local businesses have already provided donations. Pedal Up also received two grants after I submitted applications. The immediate plan is to gift bikes to local kids.”
An avid mountain biker, Graham learned to ride at age 3, having been taught by his father. He showed an aptitude for riding even at such a young age, and his love for cycling continued to grow from there. He has competed in some downhill and cross-country events, and he appreciates the opportunity to explore and exercise.
“Mountain biking is my passion,” Turner adds. “It all started once I began riding my bike to school in the fourth grade with other neighborhood kids in Charlotte. Although I rode some local trails here and there, I eventually moved on to a better trail bike that my dad helped build.”
When asked how the Foothills community could better help Pedal Up achieve its goals, Graham says, “Right now, making connections throughout the community is important for us. Anyone with an interest or experience in giving or volunteering, and a passion for biking would be great to connect with. The Foothills community can also greatly help Pedal Up with donations of any amount or by donating gently used bicycles. In addition to bike giveaways, we want to furnish helmets and will need tools and other items to make the operation go as smoothly as possible. We will also rely on volunteers to help organize our bike-related activities, so we welcome anyone to reach out to us via our website, www.pedaluppolk.com.”
Pedal Up has several other programs and partnerships on the horizon, including a Summer Academy, clinics, and local trail rides.
The Summer Academy will be a summer program where Pedal Up will offer clinics for cycling skills, bicycle maintenance, and local trail rides. If anyone is interested in participating in the Christmas giveaway or the other programs, reach out through the website.
Some of Graham’s favorite places to ride are DuPont State Forest, Beech Mountain, and many of the smaller trail systems around our area. He also suggests Little White Oak Trail at the Polk Middle School as a close option with plenty of room to park and where someone can quickly jump on the trail for a loop ride that takes you up, down, and back where you started.
Riders should always wear a helmet. A tire pump and some basic tools are also helpful to keep handy. Turner’s final advice is on proper bike maintenance.
“The most important thing is to just learn about the essential parts of a bike and how they work.
Before each ride, it is good practice to make sure your tires are pumped up, and everything that
needs to be tight, secure, and in the right place, like handlebars, tires in alignment, and the seat is at the right height.”
“Keeping a bike under some form of shelter helps keep chains from rusting and keeps any parts from fading or getting damaged from the sun. Mountain bikes and BMX bikes are made for some harsh conditions but caring and doing some cleaning keeps things working smoothly. One of the most important things is always to check brakes and tire pressure before each ride. Eventually, you know whether things feel right before taking a ride.”
Photography by Storme Smith and courtesy of Jen Turner, Jack Rice