YBONC teaches student athletes how healthy food fuels strong performance

Photo by Akim Aginsky

If it takes a village to raise a child, then what must it take to raise a community of active, strong, and health-conscious young athletes who value quality food as the fuel they need to perform? This is the question that led area cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts to form Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County (YBONC).
Cyclists have long understood the connection between the bike and body, as there are any number of ways nutrition can make or break a “soul-shattering effort” in a ride or race. For example, one could have the latest model bike, the greatest bike components available, and still “bonk” (run out of energy), thus sabotaging the whole day and wasting the resources spent preparing for it. This is why YBONC’s programs are designed to teach young riders that nourishing the body to maintain and build fitness is just as important as maintaining one’s bike.
“This emphasis on nourishment is one of the many reasons we’re excited to partner with YBONC this year and sponsor their Dirt Classic Race Series,” explained BriarPatch Marketing Manager, Margaret Campbell. She added that in addition to supporting the event with gift cards for healthy, locally-sourced food as podium prizes, BriarPatch also donated funds to help sponsor the events. Proceeds from the race series support YBONC programs such as their Healthy Snack Program, which provides riders with ideal eating plans, as well as wellness and training seminars, to name just a few of their initiatives.
“The new partnership with BriarPatch supports our mission for eating healthier food and living a healthy lifestyle,” explained Jet Lowe, YBONC founder and current Board member. As a mountain biker and mother of two Nevada Union (NU) High School Mountain Bike Team alums, she founded YBONC in 2008, just as youth mountain bike racing was catching on in Northern California. Together with fellow Board members — outdoor enthusiasts and active riders — YBONC has expanded its events and programs to support school-aged bike clubs in Nevada County, support that includes obtaining the insurance required for school bike clubs.
For student athletes like Mina Ricci, current NorCal High School Mountain Bike League champion, understanding the relationship between food and performance has been critical to her success racing on this year’s NU High School mountain bike team. Explaining how bike racing has taught her the great importance of nutrition, Mina said that “your nutrition must be impeccable 95 percent of the time in order to gain the most out of your training. A right balance of different foods and vitamins is necessary for strengthening your body to the fullest.”
Now in its seventh year, the Nevada City Dirt Classic Cross Country (XC) Series was selected by USA Cycling to host the 2017 California State Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships… right here on our local trails! The rider who earned the most points after participating in at least two of the three-race series events was declared the California State Champion, qualifying to compete at Nationals on the East Coast. The race series allowed spectators to watch bike racers from across the state compete at the highest level, demonstrating their incredible endurance and ability to race on some of our toughest XC courses. There’s another benefit to bringing the USA Cycling California State Mountain Bike Cross Country Championship Series to Nevada County. Jet explained that it also introduces a new type of tourism to our area, since many who come to watch and compete will also return to ride and enjoy the many charms Nevada County has to offer.
Congratulations to YBONC and the cooperative community support that resulted in an incredible Dirt Classic Series this year! For more about YBONC events and programs, visit

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