Springfield Youth Cycling Club will be in Nixa this weekend as it takes part in its third race of the season, and head coach Minor Baker said the team is ready for the competition.
Geared toward students in grades 6-12, Baker said the local team comes from a background of all skill levels from area schools, like Central High, Kickapoo, Glendale, Ozark and Nixa.
“From being able to ride a bike around the neighborhood all the way to experienced student-athletes that go on jumps and do all kinds of crazy things I don’t even do,” Baker said in a phone interview.
From braking to learning how to navigate a downhill slope, National Interscholastic Cycling Association, or NICA, has a training program for coaches to pass on core skills and principles to student-athletes. There are roughly 25 NICA-associated teams across the state of Missouri, Baker said.
“It’s not just kids who’ve been riding mountain bikes for their entire life,” Baker said, adding that roughly half his team was new to mountain biking when the season started earlier this summer.
Having raced in areas outside of Springfield, it’s nice to compete in an event that is practically in the team’s backyard at Two Rivers Mountain Bike Park. With 14-plus miles of varied terrain, the park is near the Finley and James rivers and isn’t the only place to ride. Dirt 66, along Fellows Lake, has 10 miles of natural surface trails.
“The trails are just amazingly designed and well maintained,” Baker said. “Most other leagues do not have such quality options so close, and we have a wealth of opportunities.”
Baker said he hopes the public will come out to watch the cyclists compete and learn more about the program. The race will be Saturday and Sunday at Two Rivers Mountain Bike Park in Nixa. The first wave of racing begins at 9 a.m. Sunday. For a full schedule, visit https://docs.google.com/document/d/1t1XcuK-qGfe9pvzCM6p56goApDXEayTaz9fGwIoINYc/edit.
The team will end its season with two other races in Kansas City.
There are costs associated with joining the cycling club that amount to $300. Half goes to coach training, while the remaining $150 pays for race and event entries for the team. Scholarship opportunities are available at https://www.nationalmtb.org/trek-nica-pathfinders-scholarship/.
Visit Springfield Youth Cycling Club’s Facebook page for more details.
Sara Karnes is an Outdoors Reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Follow along with her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @Sara_Karnes. Got a story to tell? Email her at email@example.com.