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When in Doubt, Pedal it Out

Once described as “a magical city to explore by bicycle,” Buffalo is home to a community of bicyclists and well-known trails that are perfect to explore during spring and summer months, (if not year-round). One such community, “Teen Treks,” is a non-profit organization created to help teens gain independence and valuable life skills while enjoying cycling.

Teen Treks is not like any other cycling group you may have heard of in recent years. They focus on bicycling long distance tours through North America and Europe. While teens are always under the supervision of two group leaders, they can explore new destinations and develop problem-solving skills as an integral part of a team.

According to group leader Ben Ingalls, “The final destination is not the highlight; every day is sort of a crazy adventure. You don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into. Teen Treks was good for me because it exposed me to a lot.” Ben has led with Teen Treks for two different trips. “I have only done two trips, and the first trip that I did was from NYC to Montréal. The second trip I did was from Boston to Acadia National Park in Maine.”

Adolescents are known to frequently grapple with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety; however, in the age of Covid, these issues have become magnified. “Mental health challenges in children, adolescents, and young adults are real and widespread. Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide — and rates have increased over the past decade,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December 2021. “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future well-being of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation.”

For this reason and many others, Teen Treks provides a supportive mechanism to get teenagers and young people engaged in their local community, gaining new friendships and learning important life strategies beyond the classroom. Young people never know where their path might take them on a tour.