A new mountain biking club is taking roots in Frederick, and its organizers are hoping it’s an outdoor sport that will build interest among kids from grades 6 through 12.
The Monocacy Youth Mountain Bike Team has been practicing for a season-opening run in Elkton on Sept. 30 at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. The event is part of the Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League’s first-year schedule.
Michele Mark, team director for the Frederick club, said in an email practices began in July. Nineteen had originally started out in the practice sessions, usually held at Monocacy Village Park in Frederick.
“We picked up two more riders this week,” Mark said. “One of them will race on Sept. 30. The other is younger and much newer to the sport. The response so far? ... Really great. The local bike shops are very excited to have a place to direct young riders to.”
Mark said parental support has been great. “Kids that never exercised are now mountain biking three days a week,” she said. “Kids that play other sports, but always wanted to try mountain biking are now doing both. Kids that are home-schooled now belong to a sports team.”
Mountain biking can be very demanding. Riders must negotiate rugged terrain on hilly courses. Mark said two field skill practices are held each week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Monocacy Village Park.
“We focus on team building, specific riding skills and ride short race courses that we set up on the grass hills,” Mark said. “We have a trail ride on Saturday mornings.”
The club also rides trails in Emmitsburg at Rainbow Lake, along with the Rivers Edge Trails in Brunswick, trails in the Frederick Watershed, the trails at Schaeffer Farms and the Black Hills Trail. The Schaeffer Farms and Black Hill Trail are in Montgomery County.
As the team grows, the national mountain biking organization will request the local club divide into two teams, Mark said.
“The natural progression is for the teams to be absorbed by the public schools,” she said. “This has occurred years ago in the western states and the southeastern states now.”
Carlo Alfano shares the head-coaching duties with Mark. Other assistant coaches include Laura Gray, Will Koehler and Scott Atkins.
“There will be a need for more coaches over the next few years,” Mark said. “We also plan on starting a pre-team for riders that are in elementary school next month.”
For more information on the club, email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.