Monocacy Youth Mountain Bike Team

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.

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

(1) comment


Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking, besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13! Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told, mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1) they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand and object to this activity. For 600+ examples of serious accidents and deaths caused by mountain biking, see

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Mountain bikers also love to build new trails - legally or illegally. Of course, trail-building destroys wildlife habitat - not just in the trail bed, but in a wide swath to both sides of the trail! E.g. grizzlies can hear a human from one mile away, and smell us from 5 miles away. Thus, a 10-mile trail represents 100 square miles of destroyed or degraded habitat, that animals are inhibited from using. Mountain biking, trail building, and trail maintenance all increase the number of people in the park, thereby preventing the animals' full use of their habitat.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

For more information: .

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