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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I teach at a High School in the Colorado Front Range. I am also an avid MTB'r and have long thought about combining my teaching with my hobby and pastime. I have been tossing around the idea of starting a Mountian Biking Club, possibly school sponsered. The school I teach at is blessed to be close to several great trails and mountian biking organizations. Besides the obvious fitness benifits I also thought I could incorperate elements of bike maintenance and building, trail conservation, trail building, and generally introduce them to the different aspects of the sport. I have been teaching for about 10 years now and have definitly seen a downward trend in fitness and eating habits, and I also see very few younger riders on the local trails. I thought this might be a way of helping.

So my questions for the masses out there:

Has anyone tried this? If so I would love to pick your brain and see what you did to make it happen and the successes and failures.

What are your ideas about a club like this? What would attract high school age kids to an activity like this? What other activities would be good?

Do you think that the obvious dangers of mountain biking would make this impractical? Obviously safety would have to be a huge part of the class, but getting hurt gracefully seems to be an unfortunate part of the sport.

What would be some entry level competition for something like this? It seems like there would need to be a few events that would encourage the kids to progress. There are pros and cons to competition, but it could be a great tool for those that want to be involved with it.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
 

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Well, I was in a mountain biking class at my university, so somewhat along your lines. The first thing, expect the widest range of fitness and skill levels. From first time bikers to expert level racers. My class consisted of basic skills drills (trackstand, front wheel left, riding over logs, etc.), basic bike maintenance, trail preservation and awarness (learning about IMBA and the rules of the trail), and some other things. Teacher also preached volunteering at trail builds, races, and other bike related events.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
fanghasyou said:
Well, I was in a mountain biking class at my university, so somewhat along your lines. The first thing, expect the widest range of fitness and skill levels. From first time bikers to expert level racers. My class consisted of basic skills drills (trackstand, front wheel left, riding over logs, etc.), basic bike maintenance, trail preservation and awarness (learning about IMBA and the rules of the trail), and some other things. Teacher also preached volunteering at trail builds, races, and other bike related events.
What university, if you don't mind me asking.... Did you do a lot of actual trail riding? Was it more like a team or a social group? What were the expectations? Sorry, lots of questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Wherewolf said:
Contact Berkeley Mike, he does it for NorCal high schools.
I'm unsure how to do that. should I PM him, or start a "Paging Berkeley Mike" thread. Sorry to be such a noob.
 

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mtb club info

I am a high school student in Houston. My school has a bike club and I joined two years ago. It is mostly roadies, but about half the club does have some kind of mtb experience. We started trail riding every wednesday in the spring. What I noticed is, if you start out slow, anyone can learn to mountainbike. It doesn't matter if their bike costs 1000 or is a Wal-mart special. Anyone can have fun with a mountain bike. So, I recomend letting anyone who wants to join come. Anyone can learn. I probably haven't been too specific, but just go for it. The best of luck to you.:D
 

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I work in a middle school and have attempted a Spring bike club for the past few years. Here's what I've learned: middle schoolers want to ride ramps and thrash around on bmx bikes; my community where I teach doesn't seem to have a biking groove and to an extent economics has alot to do w/it; turnout every year is about 5 kids. I keep trying and my goals are simple: ride, possibly learn some biking skills, and maybe get a few kids really into biking.
 

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I was going to try to get a mountain biking club going at my high school (i live in Oakland, CA), but i kinda gave up on the idea because no one else was intrested in mountain biking, and we would have to ride about 10 miles to get to the nearest trails, and if i even managed to start a team it would me mostly beginners who wouldn't be able to ride that distance. Good luck though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ThrashNY said:
I work in a middle school and have attempted a Spring bike club for the past few years. Here's what I've learned: middle schoolers want to ride ramps and thrash around on bmx bikes; my community where I teach doesn't seem to have a biking groove and to an extent economics has alot to do w/it; turnout every year is about 5 kids. I keep trying and my goals are simple: ride, possibly learn some biking skills, and maybe get a few kids really into biking.
I'm not anticipating huge numbers at first. I think we are in a little bit better economic and location situation then the one you described. If all they want to do is jumps I am not going to be able to teach them much! I bet if you keep at it it will breed success. I teach band, and the program takes a long time to get establish and grow. I would stick to it, at least you get to ride! Thanks for the heads up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Rootfreak said:
I am a high school student in Houston. My school has a bike club and I joined two years ago. It is mostly roadies, but about half the club does have some kind of mtb experience. We started trail riding every wednesday in the spring. What I noticed is, if you start out slow, anyone can learn to mountainbike. It doesn't matter if their bike costs 1000 or is a Wal-mart special. Anyone can have fun with a mountain bike. So, I recomend letting anyone who wants to join come. Anyone can learn. I probably haven't been too specific, but just go for it. The best of luck to you.:D
Sounds like the attitude I am going for. Hopefully we get a bunch of people that feel the way you do!
 

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GO for It

I live in bowling Green Ky, not exactly a mecca of MTBing. the nearest trails are a 45 minite drive. BUT, the high school I attend has a MTB club with about 17 or 18 members. many of those are just trying to get out of class, but at least 6-7 of us are interested. We Try to go on froup rides several times a quarter, we are in the process of building a short trail in a local park(possibly with some dirt jums and tame freeride stuff), and we host an annual XC race.

If you can just find 1 or 2 kids at your school interested in biking and recruot them for your club then hopefully they will cultivate interest among their friends. the club was starting to die out at my school but since I came as a freshman I have been helping to revitalize it.

well after all that rambling my main point is: try it. you will never know what kind of interest you will have until you try. Even if you just help a few kids get into the sport it is worth it. I am extremely thankful for the english teacher/mtber who spends his time being the advisor to our club.:thumbsup:
 

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bgmtbiker said:
I live in bowling Green Ky, not exactly a mecca of MTBing. the nearest trails are a 45 minite drive. BUT, the high school I attend has a MTB club with about 17 or 18 members. many of those are just trying to get out of class, but at least 6-7 of us are interested. We Try to go on froup rides several times a quarter, we are in the process of building a short trail in a local park(possibly with some dirt jums and tame freeride stuff), and we host an annual XC race.
What local park are you referring to. I live in Scottsville and the closest trails are an hour north(Sal Hollow) or 45 minutes south(Lock 4).

I'd love to see some new local trails get built and would like to help get it established if possible.

To the original post, go for it. Sounds like a great idea and if it doesn't work out then it doesn't but at least you will have tried, eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
smalbikpro said:
My school used to have one, there were quite a few kids in it. But one kid got hurt and his parents made a big fuss about it to the school so no more mountain biking club :mad:
Did they not have some sort of disclosure? This is kind of what I am afraid of. Someone does something stupid and then everyone has to pay because of it. Did the teacher/leader get into trouble?
 

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MTBJC
I'll keep advertising every year and hoping for the best. At the minimum, it's a fun ride and any day on the bike is good. To access any trails, which are few if any, I need to lead my crazy pre-teens on a sidewalk jaunt up to a paved pathway that is biker friendly. Then I head them up to some trails, but I'm not 100% sure on the bike use rules there. It lasts about an hour and they are beat.

Their bikes range from the dept store brand to some barely-running, no brakepads, and rusted chains-rigs. I bring my shop gear and teach them some basic care, get their bikes tuned up, tires inflated and off we go. Seat adjustments are a given as is gearing instruction (vs spinning madly in a low gear). It's a good time in the end and they have fun. Helmets are mandatory!!! Parents sign a permission form but it's not a waiver. I'll have to look at that.
 

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At my school, we sort of had a mtb club. Wasn't really affiliated with the school though. The school required a fee and being connected with it just entailed too many regulations. In my experience, the more informal it is, the easier it is for kids to just try it out without feeling too much pressure. My club was mostly just four friends who were pretty into riding, racing and all. Occasionally, we found someone else to join, but it just wasn't a good beginner environment. There was too much of a gap between us and newbies.

The gaps between skill levels will be a big challenge. As for racing, dunno. I "enjoy" racing, but never actually during the race. Guess it just depends on the kid. Most beginners will ride for fun, not suffering and to me, racing means suffering. Not that that's bad, but I don't think it appeals to most kids. I think having little skills drills is a great idea. Jumps and tricks are a lot more appealing than racing in my opinion.

I think its great to get more younger riders out on the trails. I'm 18, and I'm lucky if I see another rider my age on the trails once a month.
 

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I'm in my seventh year of teaching high school English. I started a MTB club at the school when I began here. It has been quite successful. At times the club has maybe a dozen truly active members. On some rides, only 4 or 5 kids show up. This being said, we live in Northern Vermont, 15 minutes from Kingdom Trails, and my school has 1000 students. I certainly don't guage the success of the club to the % of the student body involved, but to the amount of fun the 1% who DO join end up having.

It took little more than approval by our student council to make it happen. Given all the team sports that run a high risk of injury, a MTB club looks relatively quaint to our administration. Once approved, the announcement of weekly (Thursday) meetings in the fall and spring to plan for our weekend rides is all it took to bring in interested kids.

I will say that I don't see it as impractical, at least with the amount of adult involvement at the school. First off, we barely ever ride road--THAT'S DANGEROUS! We're only a 15 minute drive from trails, so on the weeknds we pile the kids' bikes into our pickups (There are a couple other teachers involved in the club, plus one dad.) and drive to the trailhead. I do a little safety talk, then we're off for a 2-3 hour ride.

As for competition, well, given the age and predominant gender of the memebers, a little friendly competition is a given. Yet we're not a racing oriented club, as I am not a racer. We are more of a recreational/ stewardship club. We ride hard, do epics, and participate in trail maintenance the first Sunday of every month for about 3 hours. The kids who help out love it, as they develop a feeling of ownership in the trails. Our club has worked on at least 10 of the trails at Kingdom Trails. (Including "Sidewinder") Once we get done, I congratulate them on their community service, to which they reply, "that's community service? I thought I was just making a trail." Yes Virginia, sometimes community service can be motivated by self interest. :)

I think our club is pretty unique. We're lucky to be at a supportive independent school; we're lucky to be situated near one of the best trail systems in the country and we're lucky to be able to work with a proactive, grassroots organization like Kingdom Trails. It would be a crime NOT to have a MTB club at our school.

I'd be happy to share anything else, if you wish to pm me.
 
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