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Youth Mountain Bike Team Looks Ahead to 2022 Season

Keystone Mountain Bike Team Instills a Lifelong Love of Cycling

Exploring trails, making new friends and getting a bit muddy is all part of the fun for the Keystone Mountain Bike Team. This nonprofit, co-ed team gives kids and teens the chance to discover the world of mountain biking, sharpen their skills on the trail and embrace a lifelong sport.

Founded in 2016, the team welcomes adventurous kids from sixth through twelfth grade. The season kicks off in mid-July and continues through October.

“I think I find the most joy in seeing the changes that cycling brings to individuals and to families,” said coach Alaina Dietz, one of the founders of the team. “I see their whole lives change and their whole demeanor change. Those kids become enthusiastic about other things in their life as well once they find this passion.”

 

Photo by Aaron Puttcamp Photography

 

The Keystone Mountain Bike Team is part of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL) and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). Although there are over 40 teams throughout the state, Keystone is the only one in NEPA. Student-athletes come from Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, Wyoming County and beyond to join the fun.

The team typically practices at Lackawanna State Park and the surrounding Countryside Conservancy preserves. Practices are held three times a week with two days devoted to working on essential skills in the field and one day dedicated to a trail ride.

Mountain biking experience isn’t required, but new members should know how to ride a bike on their own before joining. Of course, safety comes first. Trained volunteer coaches make sure that kids have mastered the basic skills before they hit the trail.

More experienced riders have the chance to learn advanced skills and compete in league races across the state.

“We have kids who have won overall championships in the state. We have some strong riders. And we have kids who are just beginning and some kids who will never do a race,” said Dietz. “And that’s just fine. Racing is not a requirement to join.”

 

Photo by Aaron Puttcamp Photography

 

Coaches promote a supportive atmosphere, whether kids want to compete or just have fun. In fact, the team is about more than riding and racing.

“We want to teach our kids to be outstanding mountain bike citizens. Part of that is trail work,” explained Dietz. “All of the trails at Lackawanna State Park and Countryside Conservancy—and there’s well over 20 miles of singletrack—are all maintained by volunteers. Our kids are a large portion of the manpower that goes into that maintenance and the building of the trails.”

Practice will begin on July 11. To join, participants will need a safe, properly functioning mountain bike and a helmet that is free from defects and less than three years old. Other important gear includes athletic clothing, eye protection and basic bike repair tools. Participants must also register in the NICA database before attending practice.

To get involved, reach out to the team by emailing [email protected].

 

Featured photo (top) by Aaron Puttcamp Photography

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