Taos Area High School Mountain Bike Team ready to roll in 2017

Team seeks interested riders to keep up the momentum after finishing the 2016 regular season ranked eighth out of 28 teams in league

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The Taos Area High School Mountain Bike Team has officially begun its third season of offering Northern New Mexico students the opportunity to train as a team and race mountain bikes.

This team is open to anyone who rides bikes, enjoys being outside and is in high school in Northern New Mexico. Practices began this past week and will take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Sundays. The competitive season begins Aug. 27, when the team will travel to Frisco, Colorado, for its first race.

The team is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and the team competes in the Colorado League with four regular-season races taking place from Aug. 27-Oct. 22 on alternating weekends. The Colorado League consists of teams from Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. It was reported that there were 1,076 high school riders and 330 coaches involved in the league in 2016. The league touts its mission, which is to “provide student-athletes with exceptional mountain biking opportunities with the goal of building strong minds, bodies and character one pedal stroke at a time.”

“We invite athletes of all levels to join this inclusive team,” said Susie Fiore, executive director of the Field Institute of Taos and team coach. “This team aims to promote camaraderie and fun while developing bike handling skills, healthy competitiveness, fitness and, most importantly, a healthy active lifestyle.”

Fiore said, “Like other schools racing in the Colorado League, our program seeks to strike a balance between being a competitive individual and team sport while retaining some gentler recreation club qualities. For athletes new to cycling, immediate immersion into training, racing and the perceived pressure to perform may be intimidating.”

For this reason, the league has carefully designed individual racing classes so beginners, intermediate and advanced riders are pitted only against peers of similar ability and experience. Each team’s coaches do their best to carefully place riders in the following categories: freshmen, sophomore, junior varsity and varsity.

The Colorado League was founded in 2009 and the first season of competition took place in the fall of 2010.

National Interscholastic Cycling Association high school leagues are made up of cross-country mountain bike teams. All races within the high school leagues are cross-country style. The goal of this team and of the NICA is to bring mountain biking into the high school arena as a legitimate, respected, accessible sport while developing the love of a lifelong sport in student-athletes.

Athletes will need an appropriate bike, cycling clothing and other items. Parents are asked to consult with coaches before buying equipment and gear.

“We can help interested riders get the right gear and minimize the cost,” said Fiore. “We also have free gear people have donated to the team that is available to borrow. We also encourage riders to buy their necessary items locally.”

Bicycles and helmets must be inspected and approved for function and safety, then reinspected at regular intervals. Local bike shops in Taos show support by providing discounts to the bike team.

For more information or to download a registration form, visit fitaos.org or email Coach Fiore at info@fitaos.org.

2017 Taos Area Mountain Bike Team schedule

August 6 – Practice begins

August 27 – Frisco Bay Invitational: Frisco, CO

Sep. 10 – Cloud City Challenge: Leadville, CO

Sep. 24 – Granby Ranch Roundup: Granby, CO

Oct. 7 – Chalk Creek Stampede: Nathrop, CO

Oct. 14 – Ride the Rift (team fundraiser)

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Mike Vandeman

Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking, besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13! Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told, mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1) they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand and object to this activity. For 600+ examples of serious accidents and deaths caused by mountain biking, see http://mjvande.info/mtb_dangerous.htm.

Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: http://mjvande.info/mtb10.htm . It's dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don't have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else -- ON FOOT! Why isn't that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking....

A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it's not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.info/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it's NOT!). What's good about THAT?

For more information: http://mjvande.info/mtbfaq.htm .

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