More Than a Sport
It’s really indescribable, the feeling of being on the bike, of seeing people change because of mountain biking. It’s carefree when you’re out there. There’s nothing you’re thinking about besides what’s in front of you. Things can happen that are unexpected. If you’re going through a rough spot on the trail, there’s lots of rocks or something, you’ve just got to push through it and suck it up and just keep going. And I think that that applies to life. It’s taking it farther than what you need to do. It’s still a team sport, so it’s important that you still play a role. Even though I didn’t get what I wanted personally, I helped the team. It’s a family environment, and we look out for each other, and we encourage each other. How’s it going today? Good. Good, can you just tell us your name, your grade, and where you go to high school? Yeah, my name is Noah Nichols. I’m a sophomore at Corner Canyon High School. We have a lot of different people, but it’s mostly people who understand each other, and who are willing to work with each other. I transferred schools when I was in seventh grade. I went from a school of about 100 people in my grade to a school with like 500 people. And mountain biking helped a lot with that, because that first day, freshman year, I had 150 best friends. I always played sports; I’d always play football and lacrosse. But everyone’s so accepting in mountain biking, I feel like. And it’s just so awesome, it’s so loving. This is my last year of mountain biking. How does that make you feel, that it’s your last year? Sad. The biking originally was just to help him connect with the kids at school, but we’ve seen a change at home. His confidence, his willingness to try new things, all of that’s come from his involvement with the mountain bike team. And being able to ride together with him in practices and having that is something that we didn’t think would ever happen. It’s really been special. The way that our team works is that you ride in groups based on your first time in the season. But then every practice, your group could change, because people move up and down and get in the best fit group for them. It’s my sport; it’s my job. I’m a captain on the team. Mountain biking has really shaped my whole high school experience. There’s, honestly, hours and hours of planning that go into one single practice. And all these coaches and parents and volunteers, and they work so hard. Without them, we would definitely be in a different circumstance. I’m going to say a name to you, and I just want to get your reaction. The name is Ginger Mama. Ginger Mama… I think it’s a good one, a good name. Whitney, and Whitney’s done everything for the team. She’s like another mom, she really is. I think sometimes she doesn’t realize the impact that she has on a lot of riders. And what would you say to her, if you could say anything to her? I would just say I love you, and you’re my idol, and I would just do anything to be like you. I think Whitney’s one of the coolest people I know. No matter who you are, if you’re the fastest varsity rider or the slowest freshman boy, she’s going to treat you the same. I owe her so much. No matter if you’re finishing last, first, or somewhere in between, she cares a ton about how you’re doing. Whitney is, by far, the most genuine, hardest-working person I know. So what’s up, Ginger Mama? You’ve been talking to my kids. I’m the luckiest girl in the world. I have 150 awesome kids. They’re so great. I’ve always said anyone can ride a bike, and as you look around, we’re bringing up these future generations of bikers. We’re empowering their bodies; we’re empowering their minds. And so frequently a lot of our kids are taking easy ways out of things or given easy routes. We make them do hard things. I would just hope that every single kid walks away from this knowing their own worth and knowing how powerful they can be in their own world. They can do anything they want, they just have to set their mind to it, and the proof is right there on the bike. There’s people all over the country, just like me, who are starting up a team. They’re trying their best to impact these kids’ lives positively. And NICA is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, they’re a nonprofit organization that governs all of the teams in the national league. So they make this possible for all of us. They’ve set up the framework. Then we teach them all the right things from the ground up, and we make mountain bikers out of anybody. It’s easy to look at what’s going on today, like with the setup. Then to look at all that we do and everything that’s going on and go, “oh, that’s too much, I can’t do that.” But if you just take it step by step, there’s plenty of resources out there. Once you get that ball rolling, it just steamrolls; it’s so great. Just do it, because the kids that you influence, it’s so worth it. I’ve only been riding for four years, but I’m going to be continuing to ride for the rest of my life. If you just push through and finish what you started, it’s always going to be worth it. It has taught me to focus on trying to see how I can improve and not worrying about comparing myself to others. The feeling of going as fast as you can, where you’re not twisting a throttle or you’re not pressing a gas pedal, I think the reward of that, it’s worth it. When I’m on a bike, I feel proud. We’re really just encouraged to be all-around people. All these attributes play together to make you a better person and not just a better mountain biker. Everyone has a different story, everyone has a different perspective on the team. And if you don’t mountain bike, you couldn’t ever see this.