Might As Well Jump

By Octavio Serrano

The Boulder Creek Mountain Bike Club ready to hit the trails this summer

 

Veteran and Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Mike Harrelson fell in love with the trails in Anthem. He sought out anything bike related.

“There’s so many trails here. We saw people on bikes, and we began talking to the local bike shops and found out there was a mountain bike team at Boulder Creek High School,” Harrelson says.

The Boulder Creek Mountain Bike Club is comprised of student-athletes from sixth to 12th grade. The club competes in the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League and is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Being nonprofit, the BCMTB team strives to bring the next generation of mountain bikers.

When the family found out about the club three years ago, Harrelson’s son joined, and Mike followed as coach. The Boulder Creek Mountain Bike Club is in its sixth season and will begin training in July with its largest team.

“Once we get into the race season in September, the kids will race all over the state,” Harrelson says. “We go from Flagstaff, Prescott and all the way down to Fort Huachuca, down south of Tucson.”

Although Harrelson is excited to see the kids compete, he says the team welcomes every kind of athlete as it does not make any cuts. Harrelson says some of the riders strive to win every race and have intense regimens while others are just looking to have fun.

“We’ve got new riders who come in and are brand new on the bike and they learn, and we’ve got others who have experience,” Harrelson says. “We have all levels of ability and we welcome all of them.”

Regardless of experience level, Harrelson says the team works hard. Training can be tough in the summer, but in teams kids how to overcome obstacles.

“Watching these kids grow their confidence and their camaraderie, the values that they are learning and the hard work that they’re putting in, gives me the passion to keep doing this and really enjoy it,” Harrelson says.

The team competes in five races, ranging from steep climbing to downhill races. The varsity riders race for roughly two hours for 25 miles, Harrelson says. Middle schoolers race for 9 miles in 45 minutes. The top five finishers are honored.  

“They take pride in putting together races that are fun, but challenging for all student athletes,” Harrelson says. “It’s a great atmosphere for all the families to come out and really enjoy watching the kids race.”

There are 157 schools in the league and Harrelson says it’s exciting to see the sport expand.

“The sport is growing at a rapid pace,” Harrelson says. “The league started with about 150 kids the first year and we are now up to almost 1,000 student athletes.”

Harrelson developed a passion for mountain biking, but his true joy comes from spending time as a coach, encouraging and pushing the kids to greater limits.

Jordyn Gonzalez, a 16-year-old junior at Boulder Creek High School, joined the team roughly two years ago. Gonzalez says her parents pushed her into joining the club, and she’s glad she did.

“It’s helped me socially. It’s helped me with my confidence,” Gonzalez said. “It helped me to just break out of my shell, so it gave me the courage to talk to more people, get to know more people, speak up about things—that kind of stuff.”

Now Gonzalez is striving to pursue a career in mountain biking. She will cherish the fond memories she has with the club.

“It’s a lot of fun, I met a lot of really cool people from being on the team,” Gonzalez says. “The coaches are great, and I highly encourage anybody who is interested to join.”

Harrelson is happy to help create these memories.

“I think one of the unique things is it’s something they can do for a long time,” Harrelson says. “It’s something they can do with their families and it’s just a great atmosphere.”

For more information, please visit m.facebook.com/bcmountainbike/

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