PHS Mountain Biking Team prepares for competition

Published 11:59 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Pelham High School Mountain Biking Team trains at Oak Mountain State Park before competitions begin in March. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

The Pelham High School Mountain Biking Team trains at Oak Mountain State Park before competitions begin in March. (Reporter photo/Jessa Pease)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— Sometimes after a long day in the classroom, it’s nice to get out into the wilderness and take in some fresh air. It’s something members of Pelham High School’s Mountain Biking Team try to do at least three times a week.

This is the second year Pelham has had a biking team, and the program has grown a lot, according to coach Ryan Dye. The team was comprised of only seven boys the first year and Dye expects the final list to be between 15 and 20 people this year.

“I’ve always been an outdoorsman,” Dye said. “I really enjoy getting young people outside so they can get some time in nature.”

The team is part of a league called the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and the season starts in December with preconditioning. Race season runs from March until May.

Until then, Dye has his team practicing out at Oak Mountain State Park when the weather permits. When it’s too cold or it’s raining, the team trains at the Pelham YMCA in the spin room.

“We spend some drill time in the field where we go over skills, such as cornering and braking and bike-body separation so you are ready for the trail,” Dye said. “We hit some of the easier trails here at pretty good speeds.”

Training also includes endurance building and work with timing. Dye explained that many people who sign up for the team have a hard time even pulling a bike into a parking spot at the beginning of the season. By the end, he said they take narrow, single-track trails at 20 miles per hour.

Essential to this training process are leaders on the team, such as senior Will Higginbothan. When everyone is out on the trail, Dye said it’s good to have other leaders to help out players.

“Having those kids step up and be leaders has been essential for our team,” Dye said. “They’ve been an exceptional team in that sense.”

Higginbothan has been biking for a while now, saying he started with his father before the team formed. He explained that he was excited when he learned the Pelham was putting together a team.

“I’m the leader of the Mountain Biking Team,” Higginbothan said. “At this point, I basically help teach all the younger (riders)—the freshman, the middle-schoolers—and try to inspire them to do better than they think they can do.”

At competitions, Dye said bikers get scored individually and the team is also scored jointly. He explained that there are five races all over the state.

Students who place fifth or higher get on the podium, and the team can also be ranked. The biggest thing for Dye, though, is that his team is out at the park having a good time biking.

“The outdoor time is something we are missing a lot, I think in culture in general,” Dye said. “You can tell by the end of practice that everybody breathes some fresh air, has a sigh of relief and feels good. The camaraderie is there.”