Austin could add a cycling teamPublished 10:36am Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Austin could be pedaling toward a new school sport.
Local cycling enthusiasts will hold a meeting to discuss creating a coed high school mountain bike team at the Town Center at 7 p.m. on April 22. Student athletes from seventh- through 12th-grades, their parents, and potential coaches or ride leaders are invited.
Austin would join about 30 other teams from around Minnesota who participate in the Minnesota High School Cycling League’s mountain bike racing series.
Dick Schindler, an Austin cycling enthusiast, thinks there are plenty of students who aren’t currently competing in fall sports and would be interested in the cycling team.
“We think there’s interest out there in the bikers and skate boarders who aren’t in the traditional sports,” Schindler said. “It would be a nice, challenging sport.”
The Minnesota High School Cycling League, which began in 2012, nearly doubled in size in 2013 and organizers expect growth to continue for season 3 in 2014. If Austin starts a team, it would begin competition in August.
The high school mountain biking teams are catching on with student athletes, according to League Outreach Coordinator Gary Sjoquist.
“Typically, these are not ball and stick sport participants,” Sjoquist said in a press release. “Other team sports haven’t been much fun for them in the past. But they really like learning to ride a mountain bike and competing with fellow students from their high school against other high schools around the state. Unlike a lot of sports, nobody gets cut or rides the bench.”
The cycling club would compete in five different off-road tracks per season with each track getting tougher. Next year’s locations are Salem Hills in Inver Grove Heights, Jail Trail in St. Cloud, Game Haven in Rochester, Duluth and Whitetail Ridge in River Falls, Wis.
Schindler said the sport is coed and a team must have at least one female rider to earn a team score. Riders can also compete as individuals.
“It can be one person or twenty people,” Schindler said. “Everybody’s points count. They just have to finish.”
Schindler said the team is also looking for adults who can help out in practice.
More information on the cycling league can be found at www.minnesotamtb.org.
Questions about the new Austin team launch can be directed to Outreach Director Gary Sjoquist at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dick Schindler at email@example.com.