Mountain bike club passes handlebars to new leader

This year the JSC mountain bike club is under new leadership. Regular meetings and weekly rides have been taking place in order to grow the core group of riders and make future trips possible. Brendan Walsh has taken over the presidential position of the club and hopes to take the clubs activity to new levels.

“There are seven really committed people in the club. There are other kids at the school that have expressed interest at the club fair but haven’t come out,” says Walsh. “There are seven or eight really solid people in the club and there should be more because this is some of the best riding in New England, just half an hour away from our school.”

The club has committed to weekly rides at local trail systems when weather and transportations permit. This has proven to be a successful strategy in growing club participation

“We go on group rides Monday and Wednesday nights,” explains Walsh. “We either go to Cady Hill in Stowe or Cady’s Falls, and we went to Kingdom Trails one weekend. There’s also Perry Hill in Stowe, which is really gnarly and awesome. But mostly Cady’s Falls and Cady Hill.”

Walsh explains the difference in terrain at some of the trail systems in the area. Local trails offer rides for beginner to advanced bikers that cater to a variety of different types of riding ranging from downhill to technical cross-country.

“Cady Hill is a mixture of smooth hard-pack with some trails that are more old-school, like technical, rooty, rocky stuff, mixed in there the further back you go,” explains Walsh. “So that’s a good mixture. It’s definitely a good place for people who want to learn how to mountain bike because the first few miles of trail you go up from where we park are super smooth—it feels like you’re riding on a road, just in the woods. Cady’s Falls is more old school, it’s technical. It’s like a big spaghetti bowl of trails, and there are so many miles of trails in there, it’s awesome. And Perry Hill in Stowe…you’ve got to ride up to ride down. It’s a big mountain and you go down it and it’s really technical.”

The club is planning weekend trips to larger trail systems and competitions. Walsh hopes to have a few more trips before the weather ends riding for the season.

“At the end of this break, the 12th of October, there’s an event the Stowe Mountain Bike Club puts on called the Third Annual Fall Leafblower Classic,” says Walsh “It’s a bunch of group rides and hanging out by the trails and there’s going to be a fire and we’re going to have a table there for our club and going to be promoting our club. We’re going to help them with set up and take down and maybe lead some beginner skills clinics. We’re going to keep doing our group rides this fall during the week and during the winter really plan out rides for the spring, and maybe races if there are any. Definitely trips to Kingdom trails—maybe look at getting discounted season passes for the members in the club.”

Quinn McGunnigle, club treasurer, believes that the club has great potential this year and has been personally enjoying the group rides in the past few months.

“It’s awesome to see kids come together this year like they have. Riding is so much more fun when you can do it with a bunch of your friends,” says McGunnigle. “ These past few rides we have seen growing numbers but I know that more kids who are interested just haven’t come out yet. Check the Facebook page or just ask around if want to know when we’re going on rides or having meetings.”

Walsh explains how interested JSC students can get involved in mountain biking in the area and how the club can help.

“All the local stuff is completely free, and that’s awesome because there are miles of well-maintained trails. At Cady Hill they just built this new flow trail called Snake and it’s incredible to ride. And we have the dirt jumps right downtown, those are fun. So after classes, you want to go do some dirt jumping, it’s right there. We have meetings when we’re trying to plan events, generally Tuesday nights. We’re trying to get more people involved because there are definitely other kids on campus that ride but just aren’t coming out for stuff. The other thing we’re trying to do is fundraise. That’s definitely our biggest goal right now—fundraising for the spring. We’re looking to get sponsorships from local businesses and some bigger bike companies and nutrition companies, and maybe even get some jerseys and do some races next fall. A couple of us really want to be doing races and promoting Johnson State through mountain bike racing.”