Osseo/Maple Grove team debuts Sept. 8
by Nick Clark
Sun POST Newspapers
The front wheel was, as they like to say, shredded.
It was bent and twisted to the point that it appeared well on its way to folding right in half.
On any other day out at the single-track mountain bike trails on the far north end of Elm Creek Park Reserve, it would only symbolize the immediate need for a quick fix.
This tire, however, had some more meaning to it.
“It is our first casualty,” announced one rider.
With what lies ahead for this particular group, it certainly won’t be the last.
The Minnesota High School Cycling League has made its way into the northwest suburbs, landing a co-op team out of Osseo/Maple Grove that also includes a slice of Champlin.
Throughout much of the summer, the team has gathered at Elm Creek Park to prepare for what will be a grueling five-race season that begins Sept. 8 at Salem Hills in Inver Grove Heights.
In all, 26 teams are registered to compete in 2013. That’s 10 more than 2012, and falls right in line with one statistic Osseo/Maple Grove coach Aaron Kadera found online.
“In Marin County in California, which is where this all started, there are more students registered for high school mountain biking than football,” Kadera said. “It is a little different culture out there, but that is pretty promising.”
The idea in Minnesota, Kadera continued, was to recruit the right type of student athletes to help garner interest in the sport of mountain biking at the high school level.
Race techniques rely more on endurance than anything, mainly because a typical race can last up to 90 minutes.
“There is no other high school sport where you are at it for that long,” said Kadera, whose father started the cycling league team at Roseville High School. “Cross country skiing is 20 or 30 minute races max. Cross country running is 30 minutes max. This is an endurance sport in high school, which is unique. It is a different student, it is a different athlete, and it is a different sport.”
It will also offer an adrenaline rush unlike anything.
“There is a lot of people on the trail,” said Zachary Tracy, who has raced individually in year’s past prior to joining the Osseo/Maple Grove team for the fall. “You get the nerves of racing, and there is nothing like it. I’ve played hockey competitively, and this is a lot more nerve-wracking.”
If anything, it has added to the onus of using the team’s practice time wisely.
The workouts have been generally held on Tuesday and Thursday’s at Elm Creek, and have lasted around two hours.
The riders worked on technical aspects – tree jumping, angles, etc. – as well as distance training.
Their advantage at Elm Creek is obvious.
Very few other area of the metro offer the type of practice field to work, and the hope is that fact alone helps attract more riders to the Osseo/Maple Grove team.
“We have a perfect playground back here,” Kadera said. “It really couldn’t be more ideal for what we are trying to do.”
There is still plenty to do as well.
The season start Sept. 8 and concludes with a season awards party Nov. 2.
Osseo/Maple Grove is technically a club sport, meaning there is no financial support from the school district.
They are hoping to raise enough funds to get a tent to set up at races, and to offset any other costs that riders may be presented with.
For example, the broken tire one rider suffered during practice will run $50 for repair, and that is with Kadera fixing it himself.
The team will be selling jersey’s to help raise money, and there are other ideas in the works.
Those wanting to find more information about the team, or even come out and join it – all riders must be in graders 9-12 – can head to the Facebook page the group as set up at facebook.com/omgbiketeam.
“Any help we can get would be great, and we are always looking for more riders,” Kadera said. “This is just the start. We want to build this up, and we have some pretty big plans for these kids. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”