A Bright Spot in the Midst of Difficult Times.

by Beth Donovan


Meet Jason Stern, who from his home in Maryland, has become quite the catalyst for enabling others toward their growth in cycling.

Today we explore Jason's experiences and thoughts ranging from opportunities brought from the pandemic, to his involvement in developing youth MTB riders. He also has a few tips for the budding videographers among us! 

1. Hey Jason, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary desire to be outside and on bikes. I'm a father of two awesome kids and the husband to my awesome wife, Kim. We are an active family that enjoys all types of sports and outdoors activities. For the most part, you can find me organizing group rides with an ever expanding group of friends and neighbors who have caught the bike bug. 

2. How has the pandemic offered opportunities to engage with the Maryland cycling community?

It's difficult because while the pandemic really impacted so many in the world in a negative way, I was blessed to mostly avoid negative health impacts with those close to me. While there were definitely challenges and rough times with home-schooling and maintaining our health and relationships, the pandemic presented me with the gift of time. I was able to ride more miles this year than ever before, including 1000 miles in July for the Trek Century Challenge. We built a backyard skills park in our backyard for all the neighborhood bikers. And I spent so much time just getting deeper and deeper in getting people on bikes. I'm very thankful.

3. You’ve been involved with the Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League (NICA Chapter) for some time now. Why is it important for you to get youth involved in mountain biking?

It started selfishly, really. The Maryland league was brand new and I wanted to make sure I could help support them so that it would be a viable athletics option for my kids when they were old enough. But, through volunteering and doing a few projects here and there, I really fell in love with the mission of impacting lives through cycling. I'm proud to say that I'm officially part of a team of people who devote so much of their time to helping the league grow, impacting kids and showcasing our awesome sport. We have lots of big plans for the league and I'm so excited to see where we're going together. 

4. You’re an advocate for getting more people on bikes. How did you see the bike boom impact your area?

It's clear that I wasn't the only one given the gift of time during this pandemic. The bike industry just exploded and it was impossible to find bikes for a while. I spent a lot of time hunting and searching for bikes for people who heard tales of our stoke and wanted in on the fun. I was a part of five or six bike purchases for people and helped build or rebuild bikes for several more. The best way I've found to keep people riding is to get them on the group text thread and don't stop inviting them. It can be intimidating to get started in a new sport, especially if you're a bit older, but you just have to keep throwing out the invite.

5. Riding bikes brings about a profound sense of community and belonging. Your 36 HIK Video details a journey of friends attempting a century - a feat for any type of rider. What are your fondest memories from that experience?

Unfortunately I suffered a major disc issue about a month before that trip but somehow I convinced my friends to do the journey without me. I spent the day in a vehicle chasing them up I83 from Baltimore to Harrisburg, PA capturing as much footage of their ride as I could. My favorite memory was Dave and his aversion to bananas. I'm not sure why, but that kept us laughing through the whole journey. A little less than a year later, my friend Jarred and I did the ride with less camera gear so I could check it off the bucket list. We have plans to do another this summer hopefully with a whole new cast of characters who want to give it a shot. 

6. As a videographer, what recommendations do you have for amateur videographers to showcase their special moments?

My advice for people is to have an end goal in mind. Don't just go out and shoot stuff with no real sense of how you're going to use it or where you're going to show it. Otherwise you'll just end up with hard drives full of footage with nothing to do with it. Think about what your audience wants to see and show them. Even if your audience is just your friends and family. Not everyone needs to have their own Youtube channel. And one more thing...if you're shooting on your phone...always shoot in landscape mode!  

7. What Kitsbow gear is in your Springtime go-to arsenal?

There is no better spring gear than my Merino Escalator crew and henley. They are so versatile. I can put a Cyclone Tee underneath and shed the longsleeve if I get warm. Or I can wear it alone or with a light vest over top.  For the lower half, I rock the Connector Knicker with my Haskel shorts. The Haskells are a little heavier to keep those blustery March winds off, and the Connector keeps me warm underneath when the ride gets started. 

Jason's springtime go-to arsenal: