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Style Magazine

Cycling Development

Aug 01, 2014 05:21PM ● By Bill Romanelli

All photos courtesy of Vince Tarry,

One day in 2010, as Folsom High School’s mountain bike team rolled past, Mark Ferry idly commented to his friend that Oak Ridge High School should have a mountain bike team too. A week later, he was cordially invited to put his money where his mouth was. “I got an email from the director of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League,” Ferry says. “He was encouraging me to take the sport I’d loved for 25 years and pay it forward by sharing it with high school kids.”
Before Ferry knew it, he was running the 2010 Oak Ridge Mountain Bike Team. It wasn’t officially affiliated with the high school, but all the riders were students there. By the end of the year, however, he had pupils from all over the region wanting to join; it was the birth of Cycling Development.
Fast-forward to 2014—Cycling Development now runs six high school mountain bike teams on behalf of schools throughout the area. One of those teams is the Ponderosa High Bruins, which won the NorCal Conference Championship this year. Coach Steve Kohl credits the unique training environment of Cycling Development for creating an opportunity for the kids to excel. “They all come from different schools, but train together as one team,” Kohl says, “[which] creates a bigger group of riders and a better training environment, [since] each team has more kids they can train or compete with at their level.”
Kohl also credits Cycling Development for being instrumental in growing the sport of high school mountain biking, although Ferry himself says it’s the nature of the sport that makes it popular. “There are so many kids that don’t fit into typical stick-and-ball sports, but want to be active, be part of a team and be connected to their school in some way,” Ferry says. “This gives them that opportunity, but at the same time lets them participate at a level that works for them as individuals.” 
Organizing six high school teams under one banner isn’t easy, and would have been impossible without support from the schools, the families, and a number of local sponsors like Bicycles Plus, Folsom Bike, Team Revolution, Hanson McClain and others. Ferry says the current team roster has about 65 riders who train about four days a week from October through May. He expects it will continue to grow, and encourages any students interested in learning more to check out the team website.
Kohl also suggests that mountain biking is not just for kids but an activity anyone can enjoy. “It’s something that can be enjoyed in any weather—and is sometimes even more fun when the weather’s miserable—and is a great way to [escape] the concrete jungle,” he says. “Trails can take you through dense forests, next to gorgeous lakes, and up and down hills with incredible views. If you like getting connected to nature, mountain biking is hard to beat.”
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