WISCONSIN - High schoolers will get the chance to compete in a new sport this fall.|
Starting this fall, students from schools like Wausau West and Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) will compete in mountain bike racing.
"It's going to be big," says Wisconsin High School Cycling League Co-Director Kathy Mock. "It's going to be really big, and we're getting a ton of kids that have never mountain biked before."
The group is partnering with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, or NICA, to bring biking into the mainstream for all students in middle and high schools.
"We are open to girls and boys, and we have a huge push to get more girls into the program," says Mock. "They actually earn extra points for participating in racing."
Mountain biking may sound dangerous, but the cycling league goes the distance to keep the bikers safe.
"The national organization, NICA, they handle all of our insurance," explains Mock. "It costs money to run the league, but much of that money goes for insurance, so we are highly insured. Each athlete is, and the coaches are, and you know the background checks and concussions and everything is taken care of."
Cycling leaders say they've seen support from many people across the state.
"I needed 60-65 volunteers for the first race, and I set up a volunteer website, and it's unbelievable to me how many people and organizations have stepped up, and the positions are filled," says Mock.
Leaders hope the sport broadens student's horizons.
"Our job is to allow them to try as many sports as they can so that as they age, they have all these awesome options to keep active," says Mock.
Biking could help students stay active in the future, but it could also give them a fun high school experience.
"Mountain biking is just one of those sports where, if you have great coaches, and you do it safely, you learn those fundamental skills," says Mock. "I've never seen a kid get off a bike from a mountain bike ride or practice and say 'Well, that wasn't fun.'"
The cycling league is working on bringing teams to other parts of northern Wisconsin. But until then, you can turn to north central Wisconsin for mountain biking competition.