Volunteering your time can be rewarding especially when it involves the things you enjoy doing. This last weekend, I volunteered as course marshal at one of the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League events that took place here in Flagstaff, AZ. The event spanned Saturday and Sunday with race schedules that included middle school and high school riders from all over Arizona and what a turnout.
Based on the turnout of this last weekend’s event, the popularity of mountain biking in Arizona is huge among our youth, and it doesn’t seem like that popularity will diminish soon. There were so many talented riders crushing the singletrack, and as more and more colleges offer mountain biking scholarships, and having young, talented U.S. riders like Kate Courtney competing on the world stage and winning the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup, the popularity of the sport is likely to continue to grow. Based on the talent that I saw at this event, I am convinced that with proper training and proper focus, there’s no reason many of these riders couldn’t pursue a successful mountain biking career on both the national and international stage. There were many riders that can easily be the next Nino Schurter, Julien Absalon, Jolanda Neff or Kate Courtney. Not only was there a breadth of talent on the track, but the amount of sportsman-like conduct among the riders was top-notch and I tip my hat to the parents of those riders.
To be fair, mountain biking in Arizona is like football in Texas, so it’s no big surprise that youth mountain biking has grown in popularity to the extent that it has. The sport, however, continues to grow beyond western state schools, and this has become clear by the colleges offering mountain biking scholarships. More and more colleges on the east coast are offering mountain biking scholarships in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, which is a far cry from the usual western state colleges offering scholarship in states like Utah, Colorado and Arizona. As mountain biking becomes more and more mainstream among colleges is going to help the sport grow, and having the UCI (Union Cylcliste Internationale; the Olympic cycling governing body) add a USA stop on the World Cup Tour in West Virginia is going to aid in the attention the sport has the potential of gaining in the near future. It seems that the future of mountain biking is only going to grow in popularity in the years to come.