Students turn to mountain biking as sport

November 25, 2008 7:25:34 PM PST
For kids who do not take to the traditional sports offered at the high school level, mountain biking is a perfect alternative.

"Gets them off the couch... They get to go out and ride in the woods with their friends and they learn an appreciation for the environment. These kids are going to be the future custodians of these parks," says Dave Curtis, a San Rafael High School coach.

Every private and public high school in Marin has a mountain bike team with over 500 participants in the North Bay.

"It is a club sport. It's not recognized by the Marin County Athletic League, or the North Coast Section or CIF. As such we compete as clubs and are treated like clubs. But for all intensive purposes we're teams," says Dan Freeman, a Drake High School coach.

Teenagers of all stripes are signing up.

Will Curtis, a San Rafael High School student, started riding with his dad and is now ranked second in the nation in his age group.

"There's definitely a cool uniqueness to it, kind of like 'bike team, what's that?' It's kind of cool to say 'yeah, we're the state champion mountain bike team' and it's cool that we're still kind of underground," says Curtis.

Some were curious enough to switch sports.

"With rowing you're in the same place every day and it's a great workout. But, I just wanted to get outdoors and experience Marin. This is like the mecca of mountain biking," says Olivia Miller, a Redwood High School student.

"It's fun. You get to challenge yourself. There's just this one aspect of it, you're just physically dying but you mentally learn to overcome the pain and it becomes really worth it," says Sarah Lovett, a Drake High School student.

Teams race six times a year in venues throughout Northern California. Races are six-mile loops with two to four laps depending on your level. The season starts in March and ends with a state championship in May and it's becoming more popular every year.

"It's really kind of a party in the woods with a bike ride."


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