BRINGING THE JOY OF GETTING AROUND BY BIKE TO MORE STUDENTS IN MARIN!
Cory’s Ride is a program of MCBC that brings the benefits of bicycling to as many Marin students as possible, particularly those who could not otherwise afford the chance. Started in 2020 in memory of Cory Leonoudakis, Cory’s Ride is making the health and mobility benefits of cycling a basic right, not just a privilege, for children in our county.
It’s going to take all of us, working together, to make this program possible. If you’d like to become a member of Team Cory’s Ride, please click below:
2020 – Cory’s Ride Provides Loaner Bikes for Elementary and Middle School Education
Our Safe Routes to Schools program provides bicycle safety education and encourages families to get around by bike or foot. Offered in every elementary and most middle schools in Marin County, Safe Routes has made a huge impact on how students get around in Marin. Unfortunately, not all of the children served through the program have the means to afford a bicycle. With the help of Cory’s Ride funders in 2020, we were able to purchase 55 high-quality loaner bicycles. These are used by students when they do not have a bike of their own.
2021 – Cory’s Ride Launches at San Rafael High SCHOOL
In 2021, the Cory’s Ride program worked with 20 high school students over the course of a year. They received their very own bike, all necessary accessories, and leadership training. Curriculum included a series of classes teaching them how to safely get where they need to go by bike, how to properly care for their bike, and how to stand up as leaders for bicycle mobility in their communities. Ultimately, these students will serve as future cycling mentors and help lower the barriers for other high school students to get around by bike.
Students in the Cory’s Ride program had to first submit an application, highlighting why they needed a bike and what they are personally hoping to gain from their participation. Once accepted, students participated in a mix of virtual and in-person classes in both Spanish and English. The classes were tailored to fit students’ school and work schedules. Many of the students expressed that receiving a bicycle would greatly enhance their transportation opportunities, while others reflect that it allows them to experience more nature, helps lower stress and anxiety, and provides good exercise.
Upon completion of the program, students reflected on their experience and continue to meet regularly for group rides and team/leadership building. Cory’s Ride graduate Jasmin Cuevas had this to say about her time in the program: “I learned to be more open to people, I learned how to change a tire, how to put the chain correctly, I learned what each thing on the bicycle is for, I learned a new route, and I learned that it is very nice to enjoy bicycles.”
2022 – Cory’s Ride Expands to Novato, Begins Working with Canal Alliance, and Receives Serious Recognition
In 2022, Cory’s Ride recruited an additional 30 students to receive bikes and participate in the year-long training program. We expanded into Novato in the spring, working with our first group of students from Sinaloa Middle School. We wanted the program to be inclusive and open to all students, so half of the students selected already had bikes while the other half received them. In the fall, we partnered with Canal Alliance’s UP! (University Prep) program to find deserving middle school students, and we collaborated once again with San Rafael High School’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. All of the students in the fall cohort needed bikes, helmets, and other equipment, so Cory’s Ride provided them. To date, more than 50 kids have been directly impacted by the program, with every student getting to experience the joy of riding a bike, develop leadership skills, learn responsibility, live a healthier lifestyle, and build friendships.
We also hired two Cory’s Ride graduates in the fall to be our MCBC/CR interns. They’ll start in January 2023 and work 5-10 hours per week, organizing group rides, attending local community meetings, working with partner organizations in the Canal to help strengthen relationships and improve transportation conditions, and mentoring other Cory’s Ride students.
In other good news, we received recognition from some amazing companies and organizations this year. Specialized was impressed by our efforts to make cycling more accessible and inclusive in the community, and they selected Cory’s Ride as a grant recipient from their Outride Fund. The Marin Community Foundation awarded a generous grant (to be used over an 18 month period) for advancing climate equity and social justice in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael through Cory’s Ride. Marin County Parks provided funds for us to lead rides to some of the amazing parks around the county. Riding to a park and raising money in the process… that’s a win/win for Cory’s Ride!
FRANCISCO “Biking is fun and it’s good for the environment. Bikes have the power to take you almost anywhere.”
ESDRAS “I like riding to visit friends, traveling, exercise, and enjoying nature.”
Where We’re Headed
2022 was a BIG year for Cory’s Ride, but we’re even more pumped about what’s in store for 2023. Here are just some of the things that we’re looking forward to in the year ahead:
- Distributing 30 more bikes to amazing, deserving kids right here in Marin
- Deepening our connections in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, while simultaneously expanding Cory’s Ride to other historically under-resourced areas of Marin
- Organizing an elected official and agency staff e-bike tour of the Canal to encourage a better understanding of local planning and infrastructure needs
- Leading 15-20 student group rides
- Adopting a local, corporate sponsor aligned with the goals and values of the Cory’s Ride program
- Hosting a fundraiser ride and event open to the public that showcases the beauty and diversity of Marin
- Continuing to honor Cory’s memory by serving youth and our incredibly supportive Marin community
We’re continuously applying for competitive grants and relying on the support of our incredible community to keep the Cory’s Ride trajectory moving forward. We shot a promotional video to showcase and promote the program. Check it out here!
It’s going to take all of us working together to make this program possible. If you’d like to become a member of Team Cory’s Ride, please click below.
Cory Leonoudakis was an outstanding young athlete who embraced the joy of riding bicycles when he was just 6 years old. Cory loved mountain biking most and would ride by himself to the edge of China Camp behind his house under the watchful eye of his mother, Suzanne. He would spend hours and hours in his backyard building ramps, jumps and banked turns. He rode his personal track everyday, getting air and powering through the banked turns. As he got older, he eventually ventured further into China Camp for steeper hills and greater challenges. He was a great climber and even better descender, wearing a full chin strap helmet and goggles. He could really fly when descending a hill!
Cycling provided Cory with a great group of friends, incredible fitness, time in the great outdoors and an amazing father/son bond. Cory and his Dad, Tim, rode all over Marin including Mt. Tam, Tamarancho and Railroad Grade. His favorite was the Turkey Day Ride on Pine Mountain. Every Thanksgiving dinner, Cory and his family toasted their gratitude and appreciation for amazing adventures they had together on the bike!
The Cory’s Ride program grew out of the Leonoudakis family’s desire to harness the power of the bike in new ways to help young people get to school and embrace the ownership responsibilities that come with it. A bike can also deliver the same joy of life that Cory experienced, including wonderful friendships, great fitness, and enjoying the freedom of riding outside in the fresh air all around Marin! Cory would be so proud to know that this amazing opportunity and experience is being given to high school students. Most importantly, using bikes to provide mobility to get to school and enhance their education is such a HUGE value add for young students. He would just be SO STOKED!