Youth mountain bike racing is taking off in Maple Valley

A group of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers have come together to send Maple Valley’s first Mountain Bike Team to race in Washington Student Cycling League’s 2019 season.

Students in grades 6 through 12 will be eligible to join, and the team will practice primarily on Black Diamond Open Space’s prime riding trails located between Maple Valley and Black Diamond. The trail system exists thanks to a partnership between Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and King County Parks and includes a stacked loop network connecting several popular mountain biking trail systems together: Henry’s Ridge to the north, Summit Ridge to the south and Lake Sawyer to the west.

Washington Student Cycling League provides the framework for the program, and their mission is to promote youth development, confidence, leadership, health and public stewardship through mountain biking and positive outdoor experience to create a foundation for lifelong cycling enjoyment. Although the Tahoma Mountain Bike Team is not a school based team, the boundaries have been set by the League to follow the Tahoma School District boundaries. Students outside the school district who don’t have a team in their area can request to join the Tahoma team.

Maple Valley residents Joe Tucker and Merina Hanson were the primary drivers behind getting the team started. “It all started with one social media post questioning why there wasn’t a team in Maple Valley when we have such a fantastic trail system nearby,” according to Hanson. Several interested parents and community members (including Tucker) commented on the post, which eventually lead to the two meeting with Lisa Miller, the League Director. The enthusiasm about the possibility of a local team was contagious and once Tucker and Hanson started to reach out to gauge interest it was clear that the volunteer support was there.  Now there is a core group of volunteers working together to make sure the team gets off to a great start.

“The caliber of people from our community who have volunteered to coach these kids is inspirational. Together we are going to create an amazing opportunity for our youth to develop lifelong skills and friendships. This will be an experience they appreciate their entire life, “Tucker said.

In addition to all of the well-documented benefits of sports, like learning about teamwork, making friends, gaining self-discipline and building confidence, the mountain biking experience is unique because of its inclusiveness. Every student on the team gets to race at every event, if they choose to. There is no sitting on the bench if you aren’t as good as someone else, and students only race if they want to. The team is open to all, even those students who are brand new to mountain biking. The goal is get kids outside, connected to the outdoors, active and involved.

Practices will begin in early 2019 and the race season runs from the end of April and ends in June. There are four cross-country style races in the season. Last year’s races were held in Gig Harbor, Joint Base Lewis McCord, Roslyn, and Wenatchee.

Volunteers will be out in Maple Valley at several upcoming events gathering volunteers, community support, and future team members. You can visit their table at the Maple Valley Farmer’s Market on September 22ndand 29th. BikeMasters will host a pre-ride bike and helmet check on Friday, October 26th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and there is a “Meet the League” ride scheduled for Saturday, October 27that 10:00 a.m. at Black Diamond Open Space. For more information about participating, volunteering, or sponsoring the team contact tahomayouthmtb@gmail.com. You can read more about the Washington Student Cycling League at www.washingtonleague.org.

 

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