8/13/2013 10:47:00 AM New Williams mountain bike team prepares for season
From left: Williams High School club mountain bike team assistant coach Jay Reitz, Alex Clark, Jordan Jaime, Harrison Hamby, Molly Richmann, Story Schmitz and assistant coach Brad Richmann prepare for an afternoon ride. Ryan Williams/WGCN
A new mountain biking team at Williams High School is gearing up for its first season.
So far the club team has about eight to 10 riders.
Assistant coach Brad Richmann said the idea for the team came from "a group of guys that have kids and have an interest in sharing with kids the fun of mountain biking to explore what we have in our backyard."
The Williams team is part of the Arizona High School Cycling League. The Arizona league is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which started in 2009 in northern California.
This is the first year the program has been in Arizona. About 29 Arizona high schools are in the league with a total of about 600 riders.
The four-race season kicks off Sept. 28-29 in Tucson. Other races are scheduled for Phoenix, Prescott and Flagstaff.
Races will be between four and six miles in length, with no more than 600 feet of climbing, explained assistant coach Jay Reitz.
"The races are based on the team's performance, but it's not how fast you do it, it's whether you cross the finish line," Reitz said. "So as long as you cross the finish line you score points for the team."
The Arizona league hopes to increase the number of races each year. In the future, Reitz hopes to turn part of Buckskinner Park's trail system into a mountain bike track where the league could schedule a race.
The Williams mountain bike team began practicing over the summer. Scott Mountain Bikes helped the team get started by donating four new bikes.
Once the season is officially underway, the team will have a clinic once a week and then train on their own about four or five times a week.
Head coach Darrin Permenter from Phoenix will lead the clinics. Permenter is a professional trainer.
"The level of skills that he's bringing to these clinics, the team they have no idea what they're getting, really," Reitz said. "If a mountain biker has been riding for 10 years and came to one of these clinics, he would learn something. So for these kids to have that now when they're just starting, learning how to do it right from the beginning is huge."
At the clinics, the team will work on balance, breathing exercises, and riding techniques, such as how to brake properly and roll over hills.
"But it's pretty in depth, so we're not just going out having a fun ride," Richmann said. "We're teaching these kids amazing cycling skills, offroad skills. So when you come up to a downed tree, you're going to know how to get over that."
On non-clinic days, the riders can practice things like hill climbs, sprints or distance riding. The team rides on trails around town.
Team member Alex Clark, who has been mountain biking for a few years, said he's been enjoying practice so far.
"Mainly the downhill rushes are really fun and all the sharp turns," he said.
Team member Jordan Jaime said he likes "just being able to be outdoors for a school sport."
Jordan has been mountain biking for about a month.
"It's been difficult," he said. "But I guess it's getting better."
Reitz called mountain biking a unique sport because people of all ages can enjoy it.
"Football is awesome, basketball is awesome, baseball is awesome, but really most kids when they get to the age of 18 they stop, because they don't go further with college sports," he said. "Mountain biking is forever. I'll be doing it probably until after I can't walk anymore, I'll probably be still riding."