Why bring cycling into our schools?
Most schools host a wide variety of sports to choose from. The students can choose from the mainstream sports like baseball, football, basketball, soccer or even lacrosse. And yet despite all these sports being played – the vast majority of students are not involved in any extracurricular athletic activity. Some of the most important life lessons, lessons that are learned through extra-curricular activities are being missed. Cycling presents an opportunity for a vast array of important lessons and often proves to be a tremendous builder of self-esteem among a population of students who are often on the fringe, underachieving and full of a lot of pent-up energy.
Why mountain biking in particular?
There is a multitude of cycling disciplines, and it may not be obvious why mountain biking makes the most sense for a youth program:
- It’s the safest. Forget what you’ve seen on TV. Mountain biking is not about daredevils careening down hills. The average speed on a mountain bike ride rarely exceeds 10 miles per hour. It’s a sport that gets kids into the woods and away from the dangers of automobile traffic associated with road cycling.
- The sport of mountain biking calls for a wide variety of skills including agility and balance requires both upper and lower body strength and cardiovascular fitness.
- Given a small network of trails, the rides are easy to facilitate and incorporate a wide range of abilities
- The equipment is becoming more and more affordable. Mountain bikes for as little as $300 can be state of the art plus $100 for helmet and shoes a kid is ready to go.
- In addition, and most importantly, many kids are very into mountain biking. Of all the cycling disciplines it has an image which appeals to many kids. Kids that might have shied away from the skinny tires and tight pants of road cycling won’t think twice about wearing baggy mountain bike shorts and jumping on a fat tire bike.
- Mountain biking can also spur an increase of enthusiasm for the other cycling disciplines. As mountain biking takes hold as a sport in our public high schools there will also be a significant increase of riders participating in the other disciplines.
Why Start a Club?
Coaching junior mountain bikers can balance nicely with a full-time career. The after school or evening rides leave the stresses of the professional world behind. Riding with the kids keep you from over-training. And the rewards of coaching are immeasurable. You can see what an esteem builder it is for the kids. And you can see the lessons they learn and the vast improvements from season to season.
A cycling club can improve school performance. Extracurriculars have a way of increasing motivation, organization and achievement. The regular exercise creates a momentum to your days – you rarely feel lethargic or unmotivated. Your life becomes goal oriented and your days are structured for achieving goals. When you start a mountain bike club for kids, you create an opportunity for students to get involved and inspired about their life.
Cycling is a lifelong sport. Due to the relatively low impact cycling has on joints – one can look forward to a lifetime of cycling. You will be introducing some students to a life of cycling. And if all this is not enough, and seems overly altruistic, then wait until you have the opportunity to watch your team members as they cross the finish line, or as they climb onto the podium.
To learn more about becoming a coach, click here.
To see a list of current teams, click here.