The Huron Valley United Racing mountain bike team has just five years under their tires, but is already making a statement in competition.
From newbies to trail-tested riders, hundreds of mountain bikers took to the course this year and produced significant results.
The team, which recently completed its fifth season, is part of the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA), the only mountain bike racing series dedicated to kids in Michigan. Since 2010, MiSCA has more than tripled in size and now has six races all over the Lower Peninsula.
The youth-only races are for elementary, middle and high school ages. Courses are designed and modified to fit all ages, rider ability and skill levels, with at least 20 categories of competition available at each race.
Huron Valley United Racing is stationed in Milford. It is a cross-country scholastic and composite mountain bike team, meaning kids do not have to be from Huron Valley to join. Their goal is to help kids discover mountain biking and become excellent racers.
Michelle Palumbo’s son, Frank, competes on the team and has done so since he was in kindergarten. Today, she is a coach and says the team has presented amazing opportunities for her son, who is now in fourth grade at Kurtz Elementary.
“The Kowalskis are the ones who started it all. They are the ones who had a passion. They are very welcoming and courteous, and welcome everyone with open arms no matter what your skill level,” she said. “Emily [Kowalski, head coach] put together a mom’s ride. A bunch of moms got together and she kind of took us under her wing. We started riding together and now we’re coaches. It’s amazing how far I’ve come and grown along with the kids in my skill, too.”
Huron Valley United rides on local mountain bike trails and are outdoors all season long. In addition to technical skills and improved fitness, riders also learn basic bike mechanics and trail etiquette. Coaches focus on preparing riders to race in all six MiSCA youth series races in the fall, however, joining the team does not require you to race. There are no tryouts, and everyone gets to ride no matter his/her ability or skill level.
The Huron Valley Mountain Bike Club is a more relaxed atmosphere that is separate from the team. The club meets every Thursday, May through August, at the Carls Family YMCA in Milford and rides the mountain bike trail. Kids range from as young as 4 to 18, and all school-age kids with a desire to mountain bike on local trails are welcome. Huron Valley United Racing runs the club each week, and rides are structured with an emphasis on fun. The club did not meet this year due to the pandemic, but hopes to restart with the 2022 season.
The team starts riding mid to late April once per week. In June, it increases to two days per week, and July through October they ride three times per week.
Why join Huron Valley United Racing? “It’s simple,” writes head coach Emily Kowalski. “When you ride with HVUR kids, riding is more fun. You have others to ride with and to give you encouragement. You will greatly improve your mountain bike skills in a supportive, positive and enjoyable team environment to help you achieve your best efforts. Racing is optional and not required to be on the team, but you can still enjoy the support and camaraderie in a team environment. All school age kids are welcome.”