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Youth cycling team celebrates successful first season

Collingwood Collective cycling team co-founder says the first year has gone beyond his expectations, including two provincial championship wins
Ontario Championships
Sponsors provided cycling kits, race fees and coaching, as well as training rides and mentorship, with all of the funding going towards youth members.

Competitive cycling is picking up speed with Collingwood youth less than a year into a new program.

Launched this past spring, the Collingwood Collective is a local cycling team that aims to develop youth athletes in the South Georgian Bay area. Its main focus is on youth mountain bike and cyclocross racing, but racers of all ages and disciplines were invited to apply for the first season. 

The new initiative was spearheaded by Zigman, owner of Summit Social House, a full-service, bike-friendly café in Collingwood. Formed to fill a void in the area’s cycling community, it was an immediate hit. 

“I can’t believe the way it went,” said Zigman. “It’s been beyond my expectations for the first year.”

Mountain bike season wrapped up last week and racers are gearing up for the cyclocross season, which will run for another five or six weeks into the fall. In its first year, the Collingwood Collective started with just five racers, but quickly grew to 14 over the course of the year. Local sponsors kicked things off, and a grant provided funding for more aspiring racers to get onto the team as the season progressed.

While most members focus on Olympic-style cross-country racing, some also race enduro, road, and a smaller group of athletes will be racing in the cyclocross this fall season.

And so far, the athletes have shown up.  

The Collingwood Collective saw multiple podium finishes, two provincial championships and consistent top 10 performances at Ontario Cycling Association O-Cup races, Canada Cup races, the Hardwood Ski and Bike Wednesday Night Race Series, and a variety of endurance distance mountain-bike events.

Having grown up racing bikes, Zigman knew the value that a local team could bring.

“I saw what racing did for me and my teenage years, and the positive effects it had on me as a person,” said Zigman. 

Along with Summit Social House, ten other businesses sponsored the inaugural team, including Propeller Coffee Co, Powerwatts, Pedal Pushers, Maximum Physiotherapy, F45 Blue Mountain, Engel & Völkers, Edward Jones, Collingwood Youth Centre, Chalk’s Training, and Barista Coffee Roasters. Zigman said there was a waiting list for sponsors this year. 

“There was strong sponsorship demand from the get-go,” said Erik Lehmann, head coach. “We were able to cover many race-entry fees, and get them some great cycling kits, making cycling more attainable for more youth.”

With the first year coming to a close, Zigman already has a lot in the works for the future of the Collingwood Collective. Next year, the team will be more competitive and performance driven, with indoor training offered in the off season. Zigman also hopes to secure more sponsorship funds so the racers have to pay less out of pocket. 

At the end of the day, he said “ the ultimate goal has always been to get people on bikes and having fun,” he said.

That said, he has big dreams for the future of the cycling community in Collingwood, and his big goal for next year is also to bring racing back to the South Georgian Bay area.

“[We want to show] the cycling community in this part of Ontario that there is something happening again in Collingwood,” he said.