Mountain Biking Should Be a CIF Sport

Video Via SJHHS Express Youtube

Max Katz, Politics Editor

Southern California is home to some of the most beautiful coastline, majestic mountains and amazing weather in the world. This environment allows high school athletes to compete in nearly any sport year round and develop impressive skill sets. However, one particular sport that’s gone ignored by CIF officials and has a special place in local culture: mountain biking.

The sport’s roots run deep in California as Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County is widely regarded as the birthplace of Mountain biking. As legend of the Marin County trails and riding spread during the 1970s many locals began upgrading single speed bikes and adding more durable breaks, leading to organized mountain bike races.

Given the warm, mountainous terrain that is somewhat unique to California it is no surprise that competitive downhill mountain biking has become a cherished pastime, and many high school students have become extremely talented riders. In fact, SJH has already established a mountain biking club that has sent riders to compete in the NICA Socal High School Mountain Biking League.

While these clubs and leagues are helpful, making mountain biking an official CIF sport would give riders structured support they need to pursue their goals at the collegiate or professional level.

“Having mountain biking as an official sport would allow those who bike to further pursue their passion as it would allow riders to get their name out to sponsors and grow their reputation as an athlete,” said senior and mountain biker Zach Estes.

In addition to helping experienced riders excel, bringing mountain biking on as a CIF sport would expose many individuals to the excitement of the sport.

Having mountain biking as an official sport would allow those who bike to further pursue their passion as it would allow riders to get their name out to sponsors and grow their reputation as an athlete

— Estes

“If there was a school team that went to races more experienced riders would have an easier time recruiting beginner riders. Having a boys and a girls team would also help,” said senior and mountain biker Jake Heiting.

Mountain biking is special from other sports because not only does it take intense skill, but it also involves taking physical risks that have the potential to cause injury. When riding down techy, difficult terrain riders have to make quick decisions to get down steep drops and over big jumps. A lapse in focus in other sports might cause your team to lose points, in mountain biking it could involve a trip to the emergency room. 

The danger that mountain biking brings may be one of the main reasons it is yet to become an official sport by CIF. That being said, schools could opt to only sponsor competitions for cross-country mountain biking, which involves much less danger and intense terrain than enduro and downhill riding. 

The other main obstacle mountain biking faces in hopes of becoming a CIF sport is how expensive it can be. The bikes with the newest technology often cost thousands of dollars, not to mention the other expenses that come along with fixing and maintaining all the intricate parts on a mountain bike.

“I couldn’t afford to keep up with my team because they would go through a new bike every year and I was on the same one since 8th grade,” said Heiting.

If high schools begin to organize official teams of riders it will involve a lot of fundraising and many individuals might be turned off from the sport due to its cost. Even without funding, there are certainly enough passionate riders at SJH eager to ride even if it involves spending money.

Ultimately, the thrill and excitement that mountain biking brings would have a special place in high school athletics. Not to mention it would allow athletes at SJH to literally ride for the brand!