LA Bicycle Academy: Pursuing Equity, Providing Opportunity

Beyond the Lycra celebrates the stories told through custom performance apparel.

“In the early 90s, no one was using the word diversity or development. Still, it was like, ‘We’re all a community, these kids are talented, and let’s support them and get them going,'” Damon Turner, founder of LA Bicycle Academy (LABA).

Damon came into cycling through the Major Motion club, known for bringing up athletes Rashaan Bahati, Justin Williams and Corey Williams.

“I describe Major Motion more as a community – think of it like, me and a handful of guys all in our 20s-30s, and we are all Cat 5, but very quickly, we recognized that Rashaan, Justin and Corey were the talent. Our community rallied around that, and that was the beginning of a junior development team.”

Damon poured the community-centric support he grew up with into LA Bicycle Academy. LABA is a community-based youth cycling development team with bike retail training, and soon, an earn-a-bike program.

We’re trying to pass ownership onto the kids. With one or two skill sets you can help your family, yourself, possibly go to school, but there are things you can do now that could help you navigate that. And that’s where equity comes in, because now you have the ability to make a living beyond the minimum wage.” 

Since 2007, LABA has supported young, talented riders needing an opportunity to get involved in competitive cycling. The program takes a holistic approach, recognizing changing the trajectory of the youth’s life requires more than racing their bike. 

When talking to Damon, the theme of equity comes through clearly when talking about LABA. Whether it’s connecting the youth with others, showing different job pathways within the cycling industry, or rallying the community around former riders in college: it’s about equity and ownership.

“We’re trying to pass ownership onto the kids. With one or two skill sets you can help your family, yourself, possibly go to school, but there are things you can do now that could help you navigate that. And that’s where equity comes in, because now you have the ability to make a living beyond the minimum wage.”

Fundraising for the Future

After 14 years, supporting young riders entirely via used gear and donations, LABA is launching a fundraising campaign to have a brick-and-mortar location in LA. 

I don’t know where this mindset has come, that equity is going to somehow diminish someone else. That has never happened! It’s been the opposite, actually. Folks have done things the right way – they’ve immigrated, worked hard, built something so they’ve done that and now you’re trying to move the goal post. You don’t need to do that – there was never a reason to do that.” 

“”Resources is the biggest hurdle, overall. This year has been great. A lot of this has come out as a result of what’s going on in the country, and that goes back to looking at this genuinely and saying, ‘A partnership and sponsorship is a start, and that’s a good start, but this has to be about equity and more opportunity.” 

With the brick-and-mortar location, LABA will graduate 50 young community members from their program a year.

“What I do is infectious. I fell into this, and the fact that it’s taken this long, I realized that is why it’s worth it. If there had been early success, maybe I wouldn’t appreciate it as much. This work doesn’t stop, but I think the message moving forward is just to look at this idea around inclusion and diversity as growing the sport. That’s it. It’s about growing the sport.”

Hating For Good

Hating For Good

Team I Hate CancerSometimes, the best stories have a seemingly, unassuming beginning. Team I Hate...

read more

Lifetime Quality

We will replace or repair any garments that fall short of our Quality Commitment.

Fitness Flexibility

If you need to downsize due to weightloss, we will happily provide you with a new garment for free (and a “heck yeah!”). 

Crash Replacement

If a Champion System product is made unwearable by a recent crash, we'll replace a garment for free.