We had one day until the start of the winter sports season. Adam Kimbrough (‘17) and I started loading up the bikes in the shed. Middle schoolers started pulling into the Robins Campus to drop off their bikes and work on the trails. Everyone had an enthusiastic smile on their face, with a side of nervousness. Middle School math teacher and mountain biking coach Bill Rider, Kimbrough, and I were pumping up tires and cleaning the chains. My hands were shaking with excitement; I could hardly contain it.
The Middle School Mountain Biking Club has been around for six years now and was created by Rider and Middle School Learning Specialist Mary Margaret Ryan. The program started off with few people and very few trails. There was only one mile of trails throughout the vast forests of the Robins Campus in 2010. However, over the past six years there has been a growing number of trails, people, and interest. The single track trails range from downhill curves to uphill winding routes, which all add up to four miles. This has all been possible from the hard labor put in by Rider and his fellow bike enthusiasts. Rider states “[Mountain biking] provides an alternative lifelong sport for middle schoolers.” Last year, Rider asked me if I would like to help him coach the club. I eagerly said yes to help convey my passion for mountain biking to younger Cougars.
Our first day this season was a roaring success; everyone finished the day with a smile on their face. The young Cougars and I started our journey in the dangerous forests of Goochland County. I lead the fearless pack into the great abyss, while Upper School art and Senior Seminar teacher Jere Williams took up the rear to make sure there were no stragglers. The quarter of a mile trek was difficult to power through, but my pack of next-generation Middle School girls made it through with flying colors. This season will be incredible.
The Middle Schoolers show great potential in the program. Jacob H. (‘21) says, “I love how it’s so lenient and flexible. There is no set path, and we choose where to go and go as fast or slow as we want.” I am an obvious fan of this club, and it provides a calming yet exhilarating chance to simply ride a bike through nature. You may be asking: What happens when the young Cubs are done with Middle School, and how will they further their found passion? Luckily, we have a fantastic Upper School Mountain Biking Team they can dive right into.
I am so excited to continue to work with all the Middle School boys and girls to better their skills and speed through the marvelous trails throughout Robins Campus. I look forward to see all my young Cubs grow into Upper School Cougars.