The mountain biking trails outside of Moscow have seen an increase in younger riders over the last two year since the Palouse Composite Mountain Bike Team was founded in 2020.
In those two years, the group has grown to have 29 riders and eight coaches, said Matt Pollard, one of the head coaches. They have attended competitions across Washington, where a number of the kids have placed within the top five.
Andrew Hoehn, a parent of a rider and a coach for the team, said he was excited to find a way to share his love of riding with his kids. His oldest, William, is on the team and will be competing in their last race of the season Sunday.
The race is scheduled for Riverside State Park in Spokane — it is the state championships. Pollard said they will have between 12 and 15 kids participating in the race, which is their usual number at each one.
The parents and the community around the sport are always ready to help and encourage the kids to explore mountain biking and get more involved, whether through helping them get parts for their bike, or just getting started.
“It’s like a party of people out there encouraging their kids,” Hoehn said.
The community around mountain biking is a big help, both Hoehn and Pollard said. Sometimes all it takes is a quick email or a Facebook group post to find needed parts and safety equipment.
“It’s really well supported, and you come to the trailheads with this whole team and everyone has a race jersey, a really fancy, cool jersey everyone’s like, ‘Whoa, cool.’ I think it’s just snowballing,” Pollard said.
The kids have benefited in a multitude of ways, Pollard said. Mountain biking improves athleticism so the riders learn how to not get hurt, and it also gives them something to look forward to each week. There are usually four practices a week, which are broken up into different skill levels.
In the top five at their last race in Methow Valley, Laura Pollard took first place in the junior varsity girls group, Anna Lynn took first place in intermediate girls group, Cora Crawford took first place in the advanced middle school girls group, Gunner Lynn took third place in the advanced middle school boys group and Noah Hoger took third place in the sixth grade boys race.
“I want students to see that what they’re doing can be a lifetime activity,” Pollard said.
Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.