LCI Spotlight: Mitchell Williams
The League certifies hundreds of League Cycling Instructors every year and there are thousands of LCIs around the country leading bike education efforts in their communities. We know so many of their stories, but we don’t know enough of them—and we certainly haven’t shared enough of their stories with the world.
League Cycling Instructors are teachers, they are mentors, they are spreaders of joy. They could even be you one day! Every League Cycling Instructor was at one point someone who just learned to ride, someone who just started to commute by bike, someone gaining the skills to go more places by bike. What each LCI shares is a desire to help others experience the freedom and joy of biking.
Our new spotlight series shares the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do every day: educating, mentoring, empowering. You don’t have to be an extraordinary athlete or overachieving student to be a stellar LCI, all you need is the belief in knowing that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes.
Learn how to become an LCI in the Smart Cycling section of our website. Know an amazing LCI who deserves a spotlight? Fill out our form to get started.
In our first LCI Spotlight, we’re meeting Mitchell Williams from Kansas City, Missouri.
Are there local bike groups you’re a part of locally?
Major Taylor Cycling Club of Kansas City, Cycling KC, and BikeWalkKC.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you enjoy teaching others to bike.
I have been cycling since my late 40s. I am the father of two adult children, grandfather to seven, single and retired. I believe that there comes a time in a person’s life when you try to figure out who you are–well I did that. I discovered that I have always been a teacher. That’s what I do. I am passionate about bicycling. It helped me to come out of a dark time in my life. I was recovering from drug addiction when I was reintroduced to the bike. It became my new drug. I was hooked. I met people who taught me about riding and planning rides. The bicycle let me establish a new relationship with my built in environment and also to escape into nature. It was like having a good meal at a restaurant. If you enjoyed your meal, you will tell others about it. That’s where the teacher in me came in. I just taught others what I learned.
What first motivated you to become an LCI?
I had some friends who were LCIs and that’s what started my looking at becoming one. I was offered a scholarship to take the course by BikeWalkKC. I had formed a relationship with that organization when I was the president of what used to be called Kansas City Bicycle Club, now known as Cycling KC (of which I am still a member). I took the course and it was definitely worth the time and energy that I invested. When I first saw someone demonstrate a quick stop, my mouth dropped.
What has been your greatest reward in teaching bike education?
I enjoy teaching those who are unable to ride a bicycle how to ride one. I have discovered that there is sometimes a deeper issue, and at that time I become a motivator, a psychologist, a grandfather, a coach. It is so fulfilling to see them overcome their fears, challenge themselves, beat that inner demon that told them they were “less than”. I help them to believe in themselves.
What is your best piece of advice for an LCI who wants to teach a class but isn’t sure how to get started?
I had the fortune of having an organization like BikeWalkKC that allowed me to become a part of what they do. If an LCI doesn’t have a partner organization, I would advise them to go to the schools, churches, neighborhood associations, I have even worked with the police department to put on a bike rodeo at a church. If they are trying to get rich as an LCI…it probably ain’t gonna happen through this medium, but if they are looking for satisfaction and fulfillment it will happen.
What is something you think that all LCIs should know about teaching bike education?
You have to have a personality. You are the authority, act like it. Confident but not arrogant.