HELENA – A Helena man is taking his love for cycling to new levels by launching a program to get a younger generation involved in the sport.
Jesus Salazar recently launched Montana Cycling Lab. The organization collects new and used bikes with the goal of fixing them up and making them available for local teenagers to use.
Salazar said the lab is important because cycling is a sport that has a high upfront cost and requires practice and training to get started. As a cyclist himself, Salazar said he has the knowledge and expertise to guide children into the sport.
“Cycling gives you freedom when you ride a bike. And why not give this to teenagers when they’re looking for something different?” Salazar said.
Salazar is using his own money to rent office space in the Steamboat Block in Downtown Helena where the lab is based. The idea is to provide everything a young teen might need to get started, right down to the helmet and shoes. He even wants to put in a kitchen to give kids a healthy meal to start their day.
But more than that, Salazar said he hopes he can provide a safe, stable place for kids to come and hang out.
“You can just do your homework if you want because – maybe at your house – you have so much going on,” Salazar said.
He said he’s received support from friends like Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins.
“I spoke with my local officials and I think they said this is a fantastic idea for our community,” Salazar said.
Salazar said his goal is to launch the program this summer. The lab will be geared mainly towards teenagers, and Salazar said he won’t start the program until he can ensure its stability.
One of the biggest challenges is simply collecting the bikes and equipment to get kids into the program. Right now, Salazar has two bikes that have been donated along with some equipment.
If you’d like to learn more, an informational session is scheduled for Friday April 19 at 9 a.m. at Helena College.
You can also donate to Montana Cycling Lab by visiting their website, here.