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Kids Riding Bikes rolling into Portland

December 17, 2014

Indianapolis-based Nine13sports is growing beyond central Indiana, working with an Oregon charity to deliver its Kids Riding Bikes wellness programs in Portland.

Velohealth Inc., which is seeking its own not-for-profit status, will operate for the time being under the auspices of Nine13 Inc., the umbrella organization one-time elite cyclist Tom Hanley founded in 2009.

As IBJ reported in May, the local not-for-profit has adopted an unusual funding model, relying on corporate sponsorships rather than charitable contributions.

Velohealth’s Nine13sports Northwest is expected to use the same approach, taking the bicycle-based fitness program to schools, community centers and other venues in early 2015. Sites are added as funders sign on.

At schools in Indianapolis, Nine13’s eight single-speed bikes are hooked up to a computer simulator and electronic stands that control resistance, making it more difficult to pedal “uphill,” for example. Students track their progress—distance, time and watts of energy generated—on a giant TV screen, trying to improve their own results.

Hanley collects performance data to measure improvement over the five-week course, and some schools crunch the numbers in their math and science classes.

He always planned to expand into new markets, but he figured the growth would start closer to home. Portland moved to the top of the list when he was contacted by cycling buddy Charlie Warner, a Hoosier now making his mark out west.

After the Portland operation is up and rolling, Nine13 leaders focus on their 2016 expansion targets: Chicago and Seattle. Their goal is to have programming in 20 cities by 2020, Hanley said.

Nine13sports Indianapolis also plans to grow in 2015. Contracts are still being finalized, but Hanley said it looks like the organization will be booked solid.  He hopes to line up funding to add a second programming “team”—$40,000 for the necessary equipment, plus two-and-a-half employees—by Aug. 1.

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