High School Mountain Biking Is Blowing Up

High School Mountain Biking Is Blowing Up


– [Narrator] Welcome to Wisconsin. America’s dairy land, and home of the deep-fried cheese curd. I haven’t seen a mountain for four days, but you don’t need a mountain
to ride a mountain bike. (Energetic music) – [Austin] Hi, Austin McInerny. I am the president of the
National Interscholastic Cycling Association,
otherwise known as “NICA,” and we’re here today at the Trek Trails System in Wisconsin League, as part of the State Championship Race. And today, right now, there’s
700 riders here racing. – [Narrator] These kids are traveling
from place to place with their friends and family, and getting to ride in
some pretty sweet spots. – [Travis] Normally,
the only people who are riding these trails are Trek employees and their families, and maybe
some guests who come in. This weekend, we opened it up
to high school students and their families, and we’re hosting this big mountain bike ride here. Big race. – [Narrator] Yeah. It is a pretty big event. And hey, you might even
see someone that you know. – [Emily] Being back
here at the NICA event is so inspiring to me, and just getting to see
some of the same kids that I’ve seen over the last
couple of years and seeing the relationships
that have developed and how they’re maturing as
athletes and people in general and… yeah, you can see that comradery. They’re coming up and
chatting as groups and they just look like they’re having fun, and they actually enjoy
what they’re doing here. – [Narrator] Yep. The kids are stoked,
and they’re good sports. And you know what? The
parents are stoked, too. – [Father] It’s awesome.
(all laughing) Yeah.
– [Mother] It is. – You get to ride all
the time with the kids. (music stops)
(cricket chirping) – And then I started making friends and last
year the team just… I dunno. It just made me fall in love. – [Opal] My name’s Opal McLovana, and I’m a freshman, and I race for the Madison West High School
Mountain Bike Team. My first year on the team, I would say that I was not
the best mountain biker, but as the years have progressed, I have gotten a lot more skills, and I’ve been able to climb harder climbs, and also I’ve realized that
I just love mountain biking. I really wanna continue doing it. – [Mike] Our team has grown… Just by leaps and bounds every year, and it’s people that have maybe
mountain-biked a little bit, kinda been into it. And then that first race,
seeing their skill progression from when we start out doing skill stuff to that first race is huge, and then when they cross
that finish line and they get a new of “Mountain Bike Racer,” and I think that’s huge for me. – I love seeing the
kids just find success. The beginning of the
season, some of these kids are so nervous about how they’re riding, and riding over a log or rocks, and we work with them, and then by the end of the season, they’ve just built up
their confidence so much. – [Narrator] Practice, practice, practice. If it wasn’t for the sun going down, these kids might never get off their bike. (lo-fi hip hop music) – [Narrator] It’s called outsourcing. – What I’m always impressed with is how selfless the kids are. They seem to care more
about how their teammates do then their own results. – [Narrator] And the best part?
Everyone gets to play. There’s no bench in this sport. All you gotta do is show up,
and give it your best shot. – It doesn’t make a difference
if you’re gonna win a race, or if your goal is just to finish a race. There’s a place for you on that team, and it’s inclusive and
focusing on those core values of making it fun,
treating everyone equally, providing equity so
everyone can participate. No one’s turned away. And building strong body, mind and
character at the team level. That’s the secret sauce, and
the communities that are embracing it now have over 100 riders
on some of these teams. – But of course, it’s
not all fun and games. – [Man] To see a kid
go through the process of tackling an obstacle,
both figurative and literal, and to see them have the
grit and determination that if they fall down,
they go and they keep sessioning it until they do it right. That, to me, is awesome. – You’re gonna crash
every once in a while. It’s fine. It’s getting
back up and learning from it and finding that line, y’know. We’re mountain bikers. We’re tough. – [Jake] Last year, one kid
brought his dinosaur costume, and now everybody’s been dressing up. – The heckle game is strong
out here in Wisconsin, and these folks got the
biggest cowbell I’ve ever seen. (crowd cheering) – [Lily] When you’re
trying to get up a hill, and there’s a lot of
noise and a lot of people cheering you on, it gets
you up the hill faster. (Horn being blown) (upbeat music)
(cheering) – The racing almost feels like a byproduct of the whole experience as well. The simplest goal is that we just want the kids to love mountain biking. – So NICA is about a lot
more than just putting people on bikes and helping them learn how to ride that bike safely. What we’re really doing
is using the bicycle as a tool to help
teenagers figure out life, and what they’re gonna
do after high school. – Bikes are awesome. They
make a lot of people happy, and they bring a lot of people together. And when you’re part of
a community like this, everyone walks away with a “W.” So go pick up a bike, and go for a ride. It could change your life. (Cheerful music) – I had so many friends
that you could just see had so many talents within
and they just didn’t know that they had those. And nobody ever saw or noticed that. Seeing, y’know, talent
and just the characters getting nurtured through the sport I think is pretty phenomenal. (Happy music) – When we all come together
for camping like this, suddenly this team of
kids becomes a family. (happy music) And the parents all connect, and so we cook together,
we have fun together, we joke together and it makes riding even that much more fun. (Cheerful music) – NICA has over 18,500 students on nearly 1,000 teams in 25 state leagues. There’s always room for one more rider, one more coach, or one more state. Get involved at “nationalmtb.org” (cheerful guitar music)