2022 Community Award Winner – Kyle Foster
On Nov. 8, the Eagle Town Council recognized Kyle Foster, the owner of Seagull’s Cycles, as the recipient of the 2022 Eagle Community Impact Award.
Mayor Scott Turnipseed was among the first recipients of the Community Impact Award and presented the 2022 award to Foster. He explained that his connection to the award has always made delegating it special since becoming mayor. However, he said 2022 was an extra special year for the award.
“Both Agnes and Kyle, two people that are dealing with mental health issues in the valley and are trying to improve the situation we have with mental health were nominated,” Turnipseed said. “To me, it’s such a big switch to see mental health start to become so important in the valley.”
Foster said Seagull’s Cycles has always stood out against the rest when it comes to community engagement. After coming to the valley eight years ago and starting the shop in his girlfriend’s garage, both Foster and his business have soared in terms of staying connected with the community.
“I put the word out that I wanted to be active and help the community and the opportunities took off and keep on coming,” Foster said.
Once becoming established in town, Foster said he started hosting community rides at Seagull’s Cycles in order to connect people in various ways and help expose them to therapeutic aspects of outdoor recreation.
The first group ride and community outreach initiative that originated from Seagull’s Cycles was the Recovery Ride. Anyone in any type of mental health recovery at any stage of their journey is welcome to join Recovery Rides to use bikes and one another for healing. Through the recovery rides, Foster said he was engaged to become a peer support lead for Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. In that role, Foster uses his lived experience of addiction recovery to help others in group settings and in one-on-one settings.
Foster said his work supporting community mental health is an extension of the mission of his business.
“Seagull’s Cycles is a purpose-driven business that shows what a bike shop can and should be,” Foster said. “It’s not only here to repair bikes and connect people with cycling but to connect the community. The shop creates a bridge between cycling, community, mental health and activism.”
The bike shop itself is designed to be a safe space, Foster explained — somewhere that people can come and not only ask about bikes, but also “feel safe and supported in your mental health journey.” Foster said
Aside from Recovery Rides, Seagull’s Cycles hosts a July fundraiser for SpeakUp, ReachOut called Seagull’s Send. Foster said this year’s Seagull’s Send fundraiser more than tripled what was raised in 2021.
Other Seagull’s Cycles endeavors that grew in 2022 included the Mountain Youth Move. Chat. Connect. event and the Bjorn Bredeson and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health Stoke and Spoke weekly ride that the shop sponsors.
“We had so many kids want to participate that it went from one night a week to two,” Foster said.
Additionally, Foster said Vail Valley Mountain Bike Club hosts weekly Wednesday rides out of Seagull’s Cycles. He said the Wednesday rides are designed so that anyone of any skill level can enjoy a group ride.
“Last year our record attendance was 43 people,” he said. “This year on the first ride of the season, we had more than 60.”
Turnipseed said Foster sets a prime example of how businesses can help people within the community.
“What Kyle is doing — trying to connect people with the outdoors and seeing the positivity in physical health and being outdoors as it ties to your mental health, it’s huge,” Turnipseed said. “I think the more awareness that the general public and the community have regarding mental health issues and the more it becomes accepted, the easier it is for people to seek help and treatment.”
With the work Foster is doing and other efforts to destigmatize mental health valley-wide, Turnipseed said a more supportive and less judgmental communal mentality has been developing, which he said helps people in the long run.
Foster said receiving the Community Impact Award was a “tremendous honor.”
“To me, it is a recognition that the work I’m doing with my business is actually reaching people,” Foster said. “I’m humbled and think (it’s) beyond fantastic that I have a positive impact in people’s lives like this.”
Foster said receiving the award is a motivator to continue the work he is doing with the help of partners and resources like Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, Vail Valley Mountain Bike Club, SpeakUp, ReachOut, Mountain Youth, Cycle Effect, Sacred Cycle, My Future Pathways, and the Vail Valley Mountain Trails Alliance.