Unassembled frames, handlebars and chains, still in their shipping jackets, lay neatly stacked in rows, waiting for junior mechanics to marry them with wheels and set them in motion.

Meanwhile, in a side room, 2012 BMX world champion Sam Willoughby is talking to a throng of high school students about the thrill of competing at an international level. Then, with safety briefing complete, it’s all hands on deck. 

Building a Bike

The Noarlunga Leisure Centre main hall fills with teenagers from Seaford High, Christies Beach High School, and more from further afield, all keen to get their hands on their own set of wheels through the Happiness Cycle program supported by Coca-Cola. Of course, they have to build them first. That’s the deal. But not one of the participants is slow to pick up a spanner and get to work.

Before too long, the bikes are assembled, checked by supervising mechanics, and the riders hit the car park to collect safety gear, some skills training, and a healthier outlook on life, even if they don’t yet realise it.

Coming Home

Sam Willoughby is proud to be supporting the Happiness Cycle program and as a former resident of the southern Adelaide area he’s especially pleased to be back on home turf for this event, if only for a short while before returning to the USA, where he moved to at age 17.

Involvement with Happiness Cycle follows his ambassadorial role with Coca-Cola at the last Olympics and he’s enjoying the opportunity to travel the country and share his love of riding.

“The program is geared around getting teens active again and because it involves bikes it’s something I’m pretty passionate about,” Sam said.

“A bike has given me so much since I was a little tacker so the opportunity to go around the country and give out free bikes and deliver that message is something that fits in pretty well with me.”

Sam said giving back to the community this way helps motivate his future ambitions, which includes earning a gold medal at the next OIympics.

“We’ve been to places to give bikes to teens who’ve never had a bike before so it really humbles me to see that and how excited they are to have a bike.”

Sam explained that seeing their reactions reminds him of how fortunate he is and helps him connect with why he started riding bikes in the first place.

“You get back on your bike after going to one of these events and you have that sense of fun again and it helps you remember what it’s all about.”