Pedal to the Metal

Sarah Jenson, Staff Writer

One of the secret gems of Bingham High School is the mountain biking club. Most people don’t even know it exists, but everyone involved unanimously loves the club.
The club is connected to a nationwide league called National Interscholastic Cycling League, or NICA for short. This league has branches in Utah, California, Colorado, and eleven other states. The Utah league was founded in the fall of 2012, and has grown exponentially since then. In just three years, the league has jumped from 230 riders to over 1,500.
The Bingham High School team has experienced similar spectacular growth. The team started with less than a dozen members, but this year there are over seventy kids on the team.
Participating in the NICA league is more than just flying over thrill-inducing and rocky trails. NICA emphasizes five key elements to help students become healthier people and better people. The five core principles are developing a strong mind, a strong body, a strong character, a sense of equality, and being inclusive of everyone.
Though it may sound strange, everyone involved in the team absolutely loves their sport. Sienna Chilcutt, member of the Bingham mountain biking team, said of the team, “I’ve made a ton of new friends and the unity of the team is just amazing. It kicks my butt…but I keep coming back!”
Another member of the team, Mitchell Kirkham, said of the unity felt among team members, “It’s a party, a commonality, not a clique. It is a resort of people you love who love what you love just as much as you love it! And they will always be there for you.”
The team really focuses on making mountain biking available to all different types of people. No one is turned away if they lack experience. And many people on the team had never really mountain biked before they joined the club. This diversity is part of the reason kids really enjoy the mountain biking club.
These athletes participate in five races all over the state of Utah. Venturing down south to Moab and St. George, the cyclists gain a real appreciation for the beauty and splendor of Utah’s varied environments. Races are generally a favorite of the cyclists, as they offer an exciting and supportive crowd and a day of cheering and having fun.
Mountain biking isn’t just exploring and having fun though. Crashing, blood, and sweat is unavoidable. It doesn’t take long to gain a collection of scars, and eventually it doesn’t seem so weird to start naming them. Bikers have a special sort of pride for their crashes. It’s not uncommon for students on the team to compare their worst wrecks and show off their battle scars.
The league also has a middle school developmental league (affectionately called the Devo team). This smaller league helps students prepare for the rigors of mountain bike racing while they are only in seventh and eighth grade.