Tag Archives: MSJ Mountain Biking

Mountain biking thrives during the pandemic

On any given Monday, you are likely to find 30 high schoolers in purple jerseys cranking their gears, trying their hardest to climb that final hill. During these confusing and unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of our activities were put on hold. Many sporting events had to be postponed or stopped altogether for safety reasons, such as high school football and soccer. However, there is one sport that has managed to survive through these uncertain times, and that is the sport of mountain biking.

While many of the other sports teams at Mount Saint Joseph High School had to, unfortunately, be paused, Mountain Biking was still given the grace to continue during the quarantine period. How did the riders continue their sport with these new complications, and how has COVID-19 caused a lasting impact on mountain biking? As a mountain bike team member myself, I reached out to riders and coaches to try and find the answers to these compelling questions.

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As mentioned before, mountain biking can be a naturally socially distant sport. On the team rides for MSJ, riders are spaced out in single file lines as they roll and cruise down the valleys and hills of Patapsco State Park. This naturally distant activity is what helped push the sport to continue to remain active as a sport at Mount Saint Joseph after the quarantine order was put into effect. Due to the appeal of an outside activity to many Americans, biking saw a massive increase of people wanting to participate from all across the nation. According to the NDP Group, April of 2020 was the first recorded month to have over 1 billion dollars in revenue generated from the biking business, compared to the average 500 million in previous years.

Mountain biking coach Mike Saverino, from the class of 1983, said this sudden increase was the result of people looking for new sports to try during the quarantine. “I believe the sudden increase had a few reasons.  All other sports were canceled, mountain biking is an outdoor, distanced, and safe sport.  It is also all-inclusive so siblings and families could all participate,” said Saverino.

Mike Saverino, Mount St. Joseph Class of 1983

Many MSJ students wanted to get outdoors to enjoy the fresh air of the woods, and they saw the mountain biking team as the perfect opportunity to be able to not only exercise but to be able to join a community of fellow bikers.

One aspect of the bike team that has culminated in the result of the pandemic was the community of riders on the team becoming closer than before. Communities of bikers could always be seen at special events such as the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) races, trail building at Patapsco, and many other places. However, due to COVID-19 and its many restrictions, races and larger gatherings were not able to be held, but the riders still found a way to form their communities, by strengthening their relationship with members of their home team or other rider friends.

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At Mount Saint Joseph, the biking team is composed of a vast number of members from grades 9 to 12, and a variety of skill sets and abilities. As a team of fellow Mount brothers, the riders together form a community that is strengthened with every new ride. Junior team member Felix Smolen ‘22 said that people had a natural longing to want to spend time with friends, and this led to people forming friend communities on bike teams.

MSJ Mountain Biking member Felix Smolen

Felix Smolen ’22: “I think that ignoring demographics and politics, it’s giving people an opportunity on how they spend their time with people because at the end of the day, we have to stay inside and be with our family, and sometimes that drives people crazy, and I love my family but I also want to hang out with my friends. So we’ve had fewer opportunities to do that in the normal sense, going to the mall or watching movies, so we’ve had to get creative with it. It’s brought people together in different ways and hopefully, once all of this is over, it’s gonna strengthen people with different methods of bringing people together, and make whatever bond there is stronger.”

The future remains uncertain for the time being as to when restrictions will finally be lifted for things to “return to normal,” but the way we do things with other people in public will never truly return to normal. COVID-19 will always have an impact on the way we go about our daily lives and activities and has shown the world how we are to be considerate as to what are the activities that matter the most to us. The communities of mountain biking have grown stronger and closer together ever since the order to quarantine, and once the quarantine ban is lifted, those strong bonds will certainly continue to be felt for many more trail rides to come.

Jackson Reichardt is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class

The club turned varsity sport, what is MSJ’s Mountain Biking Team?

Mountain Biking Team Head Coach, Ms. Nikki Kelley

The Mount Saint Joseph Mountain Biking Team is one of the more recently established teams at The Mount. Few people are aware of how the team actually competes as an official sport. I interviewed the team’s head coach, Ms. Nikki Kelley, and one of the team’s long-time members, Senior Dan Kallmyer, on what it is like to be a part of this new school sport. This video interview delves into the inner workings of the team for any current riders, or anyone interested in joining in the future.

Evan Saverino is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.

Mountain Biking Team excels at Schaeffer Farm race

Mount Men lining up before the hole shot

On September 8, Mount Saint Joseph kicked off the first race of their season. The race was held at Schaeffer Farm in Seneca Creek State Park, Germantown, and hosted by multiple teams including Mount Saint Joseph. The year prior, during the first season of the team’s existence, Schaeffer Farms was held as the last race of the season and was cancelled due to rain. So this marked the first time that many of the MSJ riders would be tearing through these trails.

A portion of the team arrived on Saturday, September 7, for a walk-through ride. This ride is used for teams to get a quick overview of the trails the day before the race to plan where to expend energy and record checkpoints. This option is available for riders the day before the race. The Pre-Ride is crucial to the racers before the race because it does not just give them a chance to overview the trails, but it also warms up the riders for going out on the trails during the real race so when you get out there you aren’t out of energy immediately.

Riders Trey Booth (Front) and Diego DeLaCruz (Back) flying through the finish line

September 8, Race Day, was packed with anticipation as Mount Saint Joseph’s 43 member team cleaned their bikes and prepared to head out on the track. The team gathered to cheer on Shenan Reese at 9:30. She is the sister of McKinley Reese and would be racing for St. Joe to give our school points on the female side of the competition.

Riders Evan Saverino (Left) and Teddy Carpenter (Right) finishing simultaneously

At 12:30, the male portion of the race began. The racers meet up to the hole shot, where all of the racers are split up by grade and sent out in two minute increments as the race begins.

During the race, parents and volunteers line the trails cheering on the racers as they fly around every bend and tear up every hill. Mount Saint Joseph ended up having three technicals, including a broken chain from Varsity racer Charlie Hanlon. Technicals are a short term for when something mechanical goes wrong with the bike, such as a flat tire or a broken chain. There was also an injury dealt to Zach Spitzer in the form of a gash to the arm leaving him requiring ten stitches.

Rider Scott Allen leading the pack.

In the end, Mount Saint Joseph ended up claiming:

Varsity Boys:

Ian Schwing – 1st place

Quinn Griffith – 5th place

JV Boys:

Gabe vonWachter – 2nd place

Tyler Hockstra – 4th place

Sophomore Boys

Scott Allen – 1st place

Riders and coaches alike considered this a very successful first race. Race #2 will be held at Fair Hill Frenzie on the 29th of September.


(All images courtesy of the MSJ Mountain Bike Team App page.)

Evan Saverino is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.