Author, Cheri Felix rides Fruita
I threw a lot of balls around when I was a kid. I played volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball, baseball and when I wasn’t doing those things I played a mean game of dodge ball. If there’s one thing kids have now that I wish I had when I was a kid it’s a mountain bike team. It’s unique. It’s supportive and nurturing and I couldn’t say it any better than Emma Vigers one of our team captains for Boulder High; “The mountain bike team is really what made high school bearable for me. It is such a good community of people and it gives riders a lifelong way to have fun and stay fit. The races are especially inspiring because people cheer for everyone, not just those on their team.”
Boulder High has the largest team in the state. This year the roster was at about 52. That’s a lot of kids on bikes. The very cool thing about Boulder High is that part of our motto (if we have one) is any rider, any speed. And so yes you will find the fast kids that you might expect to find but you’ll also find the kids that haven’t been on a mountain bike “since they were kids.” And you will find the kids who have the bike you wish you had but for the most part the kids either have regular bikes or they have to borrow one. And at the end of the day I always say it’s what you do on the bike that matters not what kind of bike you ride.
I’ve learned from watching the head coach Ben Boyer that we cheer everyone on. We stand by the course and we yell as many names as we know from as many teams as we can. We believe that all kids deserve support and course side encouragement. We’ve seen kids triumph and we’ve seen kids miss the podium by a lot but what we routinely see is kids leaving everything they’ve got out on the course. I’ve watched girls go from “I don’t know how to shift this thing” to “I really want to do well in the race.” If we could have a richter scale for confidence we’d see magnitudes of 8, 9 and 10. I’ve seen kids who may not be super confident in the hallowed halls of high school raise up because they know a few things about wheel sets and derailleurs and cyclocross. I’ve literally watched kids transform before my very eyes. And I’ve got to tell you if you’ve never had a chance to volunteer for the Colorado high school cycling league; you’re missing out.
We’ve all seen that movie where the teacher leads the kids down the hall and out the school to some sort of revolution. The one where everyone’s algebra scores jump and all of a sudden all the kids like school. I’ve come to see that coaching kids isn’t quite like that. If you connect with one kid, you’ve done your job. If one kid looks you in the eye and says hi and asks to ride with you, you’ve done your job. If one kid feels better about what they do on and off the bike, then you’ve got your own made for TV movie. We’ve got our own revolution going on here in Colorado and it’s called high school mountain bike racing. I hope everyone gets a part in this movie.
Jonathon Greenwald, father to Sammy who is on the Boulder High team said, “The high school mountain biking experience was not only amazing for my high school kid but was amazing for me the parent. And it increased Sammy’s belief in herself.”
Here’s to all of you; the kids, the parents, the coaches, Kate Rau and everyone who makes every single race possible. You’re simply the best.