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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 5 months ago

Cycling club gears up for bike drive

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The Central Florida Cyclist group is raising funds to provide bicycles to deserving children through the Maxey Community Center.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

A group of children at the Maxey Community Center will be getting a nice surprise during the Christmas season when the Central Florida Cyclist club delivers new bicycles and helmets later this month.

This is the second year the CFC club, led by founder James Bertrand, has collected money to purchase bikes and accessories for children at the Winter Garden center. Cycling plays an important role in Bertrand’s life, and he wanted to pay it forward.

“Last year, with the pandemic and everybody staying in the house, cycling really became big, everybody became interested, and they were buying bikes and riding,” Bertrand said.

He realized not everyone could afford a new bike, and he wanted to provide some local children with the gift of cycling. He presented the idea to his cycling friends, and they were all in favor of raising money to buy a few bikes, helmets, headlights and taillights. They ended up purchasing seven and giving them to youth at the Maxey Community Center based on recommendations he received from Sharee Hodge, who works with the children in the afterschool club.

“We asked for deserving kids who deserve bikes,” Bertrand said.

“I wanted to give them something that will last for a long time, and if they needed repairs, they could go right to the bike shop and get them fixed,” Bertrand said.

“I grew up in one of those neighborhoods, so I know what it’s like,” he said. “I know if we give them something, they will cherish it and keep it for years or give it to their brother or sister after they outgrow it.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up this year — with a goal of $7,500 to purchase 14 quality bicycles.

Bertrand wrote on the fundraising page: “Our goal is to provide deserving kids at the Maxey Community Center with a bike and helmet. We hope to not only promote health but inclusion in the sport of cycling. We understand how a bicycle can be more than just a leisure item. It can be transportation, it can be an outlet, it can offer a lifetime of memories and the epitome of life lessons.”

The club hopes to raise the money by Dec. 12.

CFC is a cycling group with about 60 active members that rides throughout Central Florida and is on the West Orange Trail weekly.

“Every Tuesday our ride comes out of the Winter Garden station, so that’s why I chose a place in Winter Garden to give back,” Bertrand said. “A large percentage of our rides are out of Winter Garden.”

He started the club in 2016 after taking up cycling. His wife joined him, and then their son started riding with them, and then a nephew.

“I had a house full of bikes and bike gear,” the cycling enthusiast said.

His brother, sister-in-law and several friends brought their bikes and started riding as a group, too.

“It really is a family-based group,” Bertrand said. “I used to ride by myself and go to different clubs, and cyclists are very friendly people — but you don’t always feel like family. So, I wanted to create that kind of culture with a cycling group.

“One of the key things we look for is someone who just wants to improve,” he said. “We have people who are always sharing information with the group. If they need parts … we have a real tight network, and when we have people we see want to get better and push, we bring them in and smother them to make them successful.”

 

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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