Mountain biking is coming to Maple Valley

Two locals started a mountain biking team in Maple Valley.

Mud, steep hills, the great outdoors and the rush are what mountain biking is all about. Unfortunately, there’s no mountain biking team in Maple Valley. That is until now.

Merina Hansen, a mom in Maple Valley, said her son loves to mountain bike and wanted to join a team. The only problem was, the closet team is the Mount Si team, which was not super doable as a working mom, she said.

“I just couldn’t figure out why we don’t have a team locally given the fact that we have so many trails that are easily accessible nearby,” Hansen said.

So, out of curiosity, she posted to the Black Diamond Trail Coalition Facebook page.

The response she got wasn’t what she was expecting.

“I had read an article about the benefits of mountain biking for high school students. So I posted a link to that article and just asked the question, ‘Why don’t we have a team locally? Is there one that I’m not aware of?’ And several people commented on that post just kind of echoing my question and expressing interest in having a team locally,” Hansen said. “It kind of spiraled from there. Joe (another local parent) commented and said he was interested in being a coach and somehow, somebody tagged in Lisa Miller, who is the executive director of the league (Washington Student Cycling League). So she jumped in and tagged Joe and me, and said, ‘Hey great. There’s an interest. Let’s set up a meeting.’ ”

After that meeting with Miller, Joe Tucker and Hansen spent about two months recruiting coaches from all around the area. Hansen said about 24 people have signed up to volunteer as a coach for the team.

“I think we shocked the league even with the volunteers that stepped up,” she said.

To become a certified coach, Tucker said the minimum coaching level a person has to be at is “level 2.”

“This means they have passed league required on the bike and off the bike training and education as well as completed a minimum of 30 rider hours as an instructor,” Tucker explained. “The league does not require any other certification however, we happen to have a few USA Cycling Certified and Evergreen Instructor Certified coaches in our group. Even one of our athletes is a Junior Evergreen Instructor. I’m thinking about establishing a ‘team captain’ position just for him.”

The great turnout for volunteer coaches is great, but also required because of how many kids have signed up on a interest list, Hansen said.

There has to be a 6:1 for coaches to students, according to Tucker.

Hansen said so far, about 30 kids have signed a list stating they are interested in joining the team. And Hansen thinks once the word gets around to other kids around the area get word about the team, the number will go up.

“That’s quite a large team showing. I think some teams start with like five kids,” she said.

To sign up, Hansen said all you have to do is go to the Washington league website.

She said if the child is from outside Maple Valley, all the parent has to do is sign a petition to get them on the team.

“You just put in a request in and I think they generally just approve it,” Hansen said.

The team is co-ed, so if an girls want to join, Hansen said she encourages it.

“I want girls to ride. There’s girls out there that completely shred and I don’t know, it’s just something that I think is up and coming,” she said. “I feel like I’ve noticed more girls out there riding just in the last couple of years that I’ve been out there.”

Hansen said her 15-year-old son is extremely excited to join a local team with his friends community members from all over.

To join the team, students must be in grades six-12.

“It’s about the community you become a part of along the way and the personal goals you see yourself achieve. In light of the recent tragedies at Tahoma High School I feel a severe sense of responsibility to make sure these kids know they have a family here and will not be turned away. This is a sport and a community they will be a part of for the rest of there lives” Tucker said.

There will be a “Meet the League” ride at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at Black Diamond Open Space.

For more information about participating, volunteering, or sponsoring the team contact tahomayouthmtb@gmail.com..

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Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website livingwithgleigh.com. To see her columns come to life, follow her on Facebook at Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh.
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