Mount Saint Joseph has numerous sports teams, but the Mountain Biking Team often gets overlooked in that list. Not everyone is good at football or baseball, but almost everyone can ride a bike. Chances are you have been since you were younger.
Mountain Bike (MTB) races are structured like a swim meet. At first glance, everything seems like a mess of tents, bikes, and other equipment, but once you get acquainted with how everything works, it is easy to figure it out. The races are all-day events.
The day before the race, there is an opportunity to pre-ride the course, to get an idea of what the course is like, and be prepared for the more challenging parts of the course.
On race day, groups are sent out in waves organized by skill level. There are middle school and high school boys and girls. There are 3 High School Boys JV groups organized into High School 1, 2, and 3, with 3 being the slowest riders and 1 being the faster riders. The Varsity group is comprised of the fastest high school riders in the league. High School 2 and 3 do two laps of the four-mile course. High School 1 does three laps, and Varsity does four. The race itself takes about an hour to complete. The rest of the time is spent cheering on your teammates, eating a delicious lunch, and socializing.
Each level has plenty of competition, even at the High School 3 level. So, for those who may not be fast enough for one of the higher levels but still want a challenge, there are fast riders at the lower levels with which riders can challenge themselves to beat. It can be difficult to do this, even at the slowest level. However, the Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League (MICL) stresses that the race is not just about winning. In fact, plenty of athletes race for the fun of it, and not necessarily to win. Sometimes, riders will purposely move to the back so they can go at their own pace and finish the race to make it count. Each rider’s completed race contributes a certain number of points for their team.
Mountain Bike practices are fun, too. They only occur three days a week. Mondays and Thursdays are trail rides at Patapsco State Park. Wednesdays are skill practices at MSJ’s on-campus MTB skills park. Team members look forward to showing up to ride bikes and have fun.
I’ve been on the Mountain Biking Team for four years now. When I started, I had never ridden on a trail before, but it was straightforward to learn; by about a week in, it was like muscle memory. Most people don’t think of mountain biking as a sport the same way they feel about football, baseball, or soccer, but it can be just as fun. So, this is why more students should join the Mountain Biking Team. Chances are you already know the basics of riding a bike, and it allows you to get more involved and make some new friends at MSJ.