#CrossIsComing & Team NeighborLink is Almost Ready

There is nothing quite like Team NeighborLink and nothing quite like Cyclocross. Besides cyclocross being one of the most challenging and thrilling forms of bike racing we've ever participated in, it's also likely the one form of cycling that creates and thrives off of community more than any other. This is why Team NL believes that this is the best discipline of cycling to launch a legitimate racing team in 2016. 

Team NeighborLink started 6 years ago with a few folks screen printing some cheap running shirts for a few events to dynamic grassroots athletic movement that empowers athletes to raise funds, awareness, and build community to support NeighborLink Fort Wayne. NLFW is all about leveraging our skills and resources to help those neighbors with needs beyond their ability. 

Team NL athletes continue to push us the team further and take us to bigger events, including Ironman events, Chicago Marathon, Lumberjack 100, and many other big events that require dedication of our athletes.

One of those athletes is Josh Johnson, who is a talented young cyclist that has spent time winning races with Giant Factory Off-Road, Bissell ABG Giant, and Marian University. Josh interned at Team NL for about a year, is a dear friend, and has a heart to help Team NL get the attention that can help us raise funds, recruit riders, and share the message that we can be great neighbors no matter where we're at. 

Josh came to us early in 2016 with a commitment to create the Team NL cyclocross team if we could help secure the resources necessary to put together a team that competes on a high-level regionally. It just happens that our region in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky is one of the most competitive regions for cyclocross in the entire nation thanks to the organizers behind OVCX and IndyCross. This year, there are 5 UCI points races out of 15 races in the OVCX series. UCI points races draw big names within the sport as athletes prepare for nationals and worlds. 

How could we turn Josh down? The reality is that there have been a half dozen cyclocross riders riding for us in events the past couple of years and we knew that we had the support of our riders to really kick off a team. We have a compelling story, great athletes, and a commitment to accomplish our goals beyond racing bikes, which is essential for NL to justify the time & resources to make a cross team happen for the entire fall. 

The move for Team NL to have a dedicated race team is the next step in an on-going progression to have a team that represents athletes across a broad spectrum of ability, goals, and desires. We have over 60 cyclists wearing our gear in all kinds of discipline, not including the dozens of athletes that run or CrossFit on our behalf. Our vision is to have a dedicated race/competition team in each athlete discipline we can, and this is our best opportunity so far to go all in and see if we can execute on our goals. 

Joining Josh is Steve Vorderman, Sam Berger-Butler, Ed Messer, Andrew Hoffman, and several others that plan on doing 5+ races. Josh, Steve, and Sam are the core members of the team that will commit to over 10+ races regionally for us. Team NL will support their gear, race, and travel expenses in exchange for their commitment to race a full season, be brand ambassadors, and commit to raising $5,000+ that will go to NL projects. 

Parkview Sports Medicine has graciously taken the lead sponsorship for the team which should cover the bulk of our team costs. NUUN hydration and SRAM components have graciously helped us out with discounts for our entire Team NL athlete pool. Matthew Plett is killing it in 2016 on our kit designs, including this exclusive cyclocross team kit. 

However, we still could use a few more sponsors that would consider making a financial contribution or in-kind sponsorship gift. We'd be happy to share more info if you reach out to us. 

What's in it for you beyond supporting a great nonprofit trying non-traditional ways to grow and fund their organization? Well, logos on our gear and promotional materials. Exposure at events around the region through our expo tent we'll be putting up. And, Team NL is a member of the local weekly cyclocross practice race series, and will invite you into 15 weeks of events. 

This is an exciting opportunity for us to bring awareness to an organization that shows athletes that they can compete at a high level and still do good along the way. Let us know if you can join us. 

Andrew@nlfw.org