A shout out to aspiring cyclists
Chad Wells of North Country Cycle Sport and other members of the Petoskey cycling shop are starting the North Country Cycle Sport Scholastic Cycling Club, a program available to all interested middle school and high school mountain bike enthusiasts.
North Country Cycle Sport owner Bo Mayfield and manager Chad Wells tossed the idea of starting a Scholastic Cycling Club around the same time of the opening of their Petoskey location on Howard Street.
That idea has since grown since the opening of that store last April as the shop looks to generate riders -- both boys and girls at the middle school and high school level -- for the North Country Cycle Sport Scholastic Cycling Club.
Wells, a 29-year old professionally licensed mountain and category 1 cyclo-cross cyclist with 10 years of racing experience, became familiar with scholastic cycling clubs when he lived in California and while he raced collegiately at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
"California started the scholastic program and it's pretty huge out there," Wells said. "In Colorado, it gotten pretty big as well."
After moving back to Michigan to help with the opening of the Boyne Country Cycle Sport Petoskey location, Wells said the idea was talked about, but "put on the back burner."
"Once we started getting going, we began to pursue it more," Wells said. "We have some good people like John Cowan and Steve Neal who are helping us out.
"I know the word is getting out now and people are getting excited."
The Scholastic Club will offer young riders a chance to learn mountain bike skills from pro cyclists, proper bike care, trail location, riding tips and safety.
The club will look to join the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA), part of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association. The MiSCA works to establish and maintain safe, quality scholastic cycling programs, provides support to schools and organizations wishing to establish scholastic cycling clubs and teams and develops a competitive series of cycling.
"We'd ideally like to start the club in the fall," Wells said. "We probably won't do the team racing aspect of it. The lone two teams in the state right now are Detroit Country Day and Clarkston who have the scholastic program as well. We'd have to travel down there to compete and right now, we don't have the infrastructure to do that."
For now, Wells said, the club will focus on introducing mountain biking as a healthy lifestyle.
"We'll keep the club simple and fun and we'll introduce them to simple riding," he said. "They don't necessarily have to race, it's something fun and active for them to do."
Down the road, the club could eventually compete in Scholastic Race Leagues, where riders have the chance to earn a college scholarship.
"Those scholarships are offered through MiSCA (Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association) where they offer money to the overall race winner," Wells said. "That's still up in the air for us right now."
Wells said riders of all levels are welcome. Recreational rides will be offered throughout the week and schedules are available at North Country Cycle Sport, on the shops website through Facebook or by calling (231) 487-1999 or (231) 582-4632.
"I been a competitive racer for 10 years now and for a lot of us, it becomes a lifestyle," Wells said. "I race a lot, but I know when I'm done racing, I'll always ride."