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You might not consider Wisconsin to be a Mecca for mountain biking, but some local groups are hoping to change that. The Wisconsin Interscholastic Cycling Association was founded in 2013 and a local team followed suit in 2014 serving Racine County, Kenosha County, and Northern Illinois and is committed to the growing sport of safe and sensible cross country style mountain biking. It is an awesome alternative sport to consider if your student just hasn’t found a home in the traditional ball or stick type of sports.

Cross country-style mountain biking is much different than the extreme events you might see on TV. This is style of riding that takes place on rough paths (aka “singletrack”) through a local forest preserve or park with small terrain changes such as stumps, climbs, and rock gardens. The preferred local trail system used for most practices by SLSMTB is Silver Lake Park in Kenosha County. The trails here are maintained by volunteers and funding from the non-profit association, KAMBA.

The local team was started by coach Dave Bender with a humble beginning of one rider from Central High School in 2014. The team saw growth the following years, leading up to 20 athletes competing in 2017 and winning the Division 2 State Championship.

Coach Bender has been well respected in the mountain bike community for years and his dedication to the sport is evident in the explosive growth the team has experienced. The team welcomes male and female riders between 6th-12th grade. The 2021 season fields the largest team to date with over 70 riders. With this growth, the team has expanded into an umbrella organization with a volunteer board of directors, volunteer coaches, and a new name – Southeastern Lakes Scholastic Mountain Bike Association – SLSMTB for short.

SLSMTB is a mountain biking team comprised of private, public, virtual, and homeschool student-athletes in grades 6-12 from SE Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. The team competes in the Wisconsin High School League, a league of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).

SLSMTB offers student-athletes the opportunity to learn how to mountain bike at practices help 3-4 times per week. For several years, the team has competed at NICA race events throughout the state in the fall. However, with the association expanding into a USA Cycling Club this past year, the team has expanded to include younger riders and add adventure riding weekends throughout the state, and participation in the WORS race series. This summer several of our athletes were awarded medals for their fierce competition in the WORS series, including several first-place awards.

The next great opportunity that SLSMTB is creating for their student-athletes and local community supporters is a local exhibition race at Silver Lake Park. This event will be held on September 8th starting at 5:30 p.m. The focus of the first round of SLS Regional Exhibition Races is getting people who normally would not travel to a NICA or WORS weekend race to come check these out; family, classmates, neighbors, friends, school administrators, school board members, legislators, county supervisors, along with existing and potential sponsors are just a few examples. Let’s give our local community an opportunity to see the awesome community and youth development we are achieving in SE Wisconsin!

While this trail system is well maintained by the KAMBA organization, there are many opportunities for furthering the growth of mountain biking in our region. The opportunities for more trails, mountain bike skills parks and pump tracks are just a few of the dreams local mountain bikers would like to see evolve in the coming years. This type of infrastructure growth would help grow our region as a “mountain bike destination,” similar to the growing areas of the country such as Bentonville, Arkansas. This also requires community and government support through parks and recreation departments.

Registration to join our team and sponsorship opportunities are now open! For more information, visit
www.slsmtb.org.

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