Team Globalbike: The other side of pro cycling

In recent times, mainstream media has been rife with controversy when dealing with professional cycling. It seems as though every article published has to do with negative things going on in the sport, focusing on Lance Armstrong and others involved with blood doping. There is more to the sport of professional cycling than these stories would lead you to believe.


Team Globalbike Racing, Photo courtesy of Josh Whitmore

Team Globalbike is a USA Cycling category 1 domestic elite cycling team. The team was founded by a group of friends in an effort to do something positive, above and beyond that of a typical professional sports team. Team Globalbike is the main marketing effort for Globalbike- a nonprofit, grass-roots organization that provides bikes to developing countries and HIV/AIDS care workers. Globalbike’s mission is to create social change through “the transformative power of bicycles to connect people and resources.” Josh Whitmore, assistant director of outdoor programs at Western Carolina University is a founding member of the team as well as a member of the local community.


“We are trying to be the positive image that the sport should have,” said Whitmore. “That includes our humanitarian image, sound business practices and overall integrity.”

Josh Whitmore, WCU Assistant Director Outdoor Programs


“Team Globalbike is a breath of fresh air in the professional cycling game- riding for a better, global purpose,” said Nick Bragg, WCU Cycling Team president. The team is focused on incremental growth, fulfilling promises and eliminating deceit that is often present in professional cycling. The ultimate goal is to become a UCI Continental Team like team Jelly Belly.

The issue of doping in professional cycling has not left team Globalbike untouched. The negative press associated with the sport has affected sponsorship deals. The perceived image of professional cycling today by many is negative and sponsors are more timid than before when renewing contracts and signing on new teams. One of team Globalbike’s sponsors pulled out completely due to the “toxic nature” of professional cycling even though there was no direct correlation with doping and team Globalbike. The perception of the sport has resulted in a decreased budget, but still, the team remains steadfast in their mission.


There are differing opinions by local cyclists when it comes to professional cycling. “I think pro cycling is in a good place right now,” said Nick Lacombe, WCU Cycling Team vice-president. “Despite the trending Lance Armstrong scandal, doping on the elite level is slowly becoming a concern of the past. With new regulations against banned substances, I see a bright, clean future for the sport.”


“I want to believe a majority of the peloton is riding clean these days,” said Scott Baker, local cyclist and dean of career technologies at Southwestern Community College. “But I have become really jaded about doping and the sport.”


Team Globalbike Racing, Photo courtesy of Josh Whitmore

Globalbike donates bikes towards organizations with similar agendas in developing countries and works to raise money for educational efforts. The bicycle is a powerful tool that is often taken for granted by privileged citizens. “We as cyclists in the United States do it as a hobby- for fitness, mainly,” said Whitmore. Bicycles that are donated by Globalbike enable HIV/AIDS caregivers to have a much greater impact in countries such as Tanzania and Kenya.


“My favorite organization I visited was Box Girls Kenya,” said Whitmore. The program started as a self-defense initiative that worked with teenage girls and taught them principles of boxing. It later evolved to be more of a metaphor for life, instilling underprivileged girls with confidence that they simply did not have before.


It is comforting to know that one team out there is focused on philanthropy and selflessness rather than the win-at-all-costs mentality that today’s peloton seems to have. Members of the team share a passion for the mission of Globalbike. Team members are pursuing personal goals, but working towards the selfless goals of the organization simultaneously. The team is unified through the mission of the organization, which in Whitmore’s opinion leads to better race results and ultimately greater exposure of Globalbike and their philanthropic agenda.