Area mountain biking team gears up for competition

Try-it-out nights scheduled June 9 and 21

By Brent Frankenhoff

The SPASH/Central Wisconsin Composite (CWC) Mountain Bike Team, composed of students from sixth grade through their senior year of high school, is preparing for its ninth season this summer and fall. The practice season officially begins on July 7 in anticipation of five fall competitions. Offering skill development, adventure rides, and rewarding challenges, the sport also gives participants plenty of fresh air and a fun, supportive riding environment.

The group, which is open to students from Amherst, Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and the greater Portage County area, was formed in 2014 and practices on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Standing Rocks Park, 7700 Standing Rocks Rd., Stevens Point.

Coach Jeff Dahlseng and rest of the coaching staff have planned two try-it-out nights in June for those interested in experiencing firsthand what this team and sport is all about: Thursday, June 9, and Tuesday, June 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. each evening. RSVPs are greatly appreciated and can be made by emailing cwmountainbike@gmail.com.

“There is no minimum skill required to be part of the team, there is a place for any interested rider who is willing to try, regardless of grade level,” Dahlseng said. “The confidence that you will develop as your skills grow gives you a huge sense of accomplishment! In addition, the thrill of riding under your own power, in the woods with your friends, is awesome!

“Let us know if you need to borrow a bike for this pre-season event, and rental bikes are available for the season, if needed. Many athletes and even coaches begin their time with the team riding a rented bike, which really lowers the cost of entry into this unique sport. All riders will be required to provide and wear their own helmet for all team events.”

Speaking of those costs, Dahlseng said that a season’s membership is $65, plus $45 per race. “You may choose if and how many races to participate in,” Dahlseng said, and the league offers scholarship funds that have been readily available to those who apply.

In addition to those costs, Dahlseng said competitors will need a suitable bike, which can start at $250, depending on rent vs. own options and other factors. Some uniforms and apparel for races can add around $100 to the overall total, but that gear can be used for multiple seasons.

Looking ahead to the fall competitions, Dahlseng said that meets are scheduled in Cable, Fall River, Eau Claire, Mt. Morris, and Waterloo, the headquarters of Trek Bicycles.

“Our team is growing, come join the fun,” he said. The 2021 roster included over 40 student athletes, and the team is expecting to grow to over 50 for the 2022 season.

One of the team’s newer members is Milo Graham of Amherst, who joined in 2021. “One of my good friends was in it ,and he inspired me to join,” Graham said. “Even though it’s a big team, it’s a very welcoming community of people.”

Graham, who will be a freshman in the Tomorrow River Schools this fall, said he “plans to continue racing until the end of high school and maybe even in college.”

With a sport of this nature, there are no players left sitting on the bench.

“Every student athlete and coach participates in every minute of practice,” Dahlseng said. “There is also a good mix of individual and team competition. The team-scoring system reaches pretty deep into the roster, so even if someone is competing for 20th place, their contribution can make a big different to the overall team score.”

He added that he’s enjoyed watching the participants turn the team into a positive social experience.

“The chatter, ideas, and stories that they share before, during, and after practice are wonderful and inspiring,” he said. “They make it better to come to the next practice.”

All that practice and camaraderie have paid off for the team, which finished fifth in the state in 2019 and second in 2021.

“This is attributed largely to our growth as a team and our more balanced co-ed roster,” Dahlseng added. “We welcome riders of all ages and abilities, girls and boys.”

For more information, please email a coach at the address above or visit wisconsinmtb.org or nationalmtb.org.

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