Building a Community with Youth Mountain Biking

By Jessica Else | Photography by Andrea Pether and NICA Wisconsin

From mountain bikes to zip lines, athletes in the Geneva Lakes Composite Youth Mountain Biking Team (GLC) spend their summers flying through the trees and sleeping under the stars. They learn mountain biking skills, but more than that, they learn how to build community. They also get a chance to make some incredible s’mores.

During the summer months, the competitive mountain biking team, which includes members from throughout the Geneva Lake area, gathers twice a week to practice. Team members ride trails at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and Lake Geneva Ziplines and Adventures to prepare for race weekends, which take place from the end of August through October.

Race weekends are “like nothing any other team sport offers,” according to GLC founder Andrea Pether, who started the team in 2021 with the help of local road and mountain biking club Treadhead Cycling and other local sponsors. The two-day events kick off with pre-race rides of the courses, located in places like Mt. Telemark Village in Cable, Trek Trails in Waterloo and Minooka Park in Waukesha. Families camp together overnight, sharing stories, games and food over campfires before racing day on Sunday.

“Athletes, coaches and parents from across the state come together with a common thread of the love for the outdoors, being active and having fun,” Pether said. “Phones get put away and these athletes have a chance to ride, laugh, play campfire games and have fun together in an unbiased atmosphere.”

Since its founding, the GLC has grown from three competing athletes in 2021 to 19 on the roster in 2023, with 12 coaches serving the team. There are plenty of opportunities for new members, and all student athletes in grades 6-12 are welcome to join. Part of the National Interscholastic Cycling League (NICA), the Geneva Lakes Composite team finished 17th overall out of 59 teams in Division II in the 2023 season. They participated in five events throughout Wisconsin.

When they aren’t racing or practicing, team members ride to the beach to go swimming and eat pizza, or go ziplining, rock climbing and gather for events like their annual “sandwich social.” The season wraps up in the fall with a banquet to celebrate the athletes and the community.

Bikes and scholarships are available for athletes who need equipment to get started with the team and Pether said they are always looking for volunteers. “As a parent, coach and team director it is an incredible organization to be part of,” Pether said. “Everyone rides and everyone participates. Racing is optional, but it’s a ton of fun.”

Author: atthelake

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