Mountain bike team backpedals due to conflict with league rules


Doug Carter

JV Team after winning race in Duluth (10/9)

In their first year of competing as an individual team, the South Mountain Bike Team has come off to a strong start. In the majority of their races, the JV team has placed highly, coming in at least 1st or 2nd. However, the team is caught in between the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) rules, and South’s status quo; the lack of female cyclists.

South’s team is small yet ferocious, with only 7 boys. The NICA rules require that any team (excluding non co-ed schools) must have at least one female biker in order to score points. Which means that despite being fierce competition, our bikers’ scores are blank.

Mountain biking is scored via a point system. Race finishers automatically gain points for participating, and extra depending on placement upon finishing. But no matter how well a team does, no points will be awarded to both individual racers and the team if it does not have a girl.

“I want girls to join the team, but this rule is stupid,” said freshman Nick Carter, an active member of the team.

Carter, (along with other bikers for the team) feels that one of the main reasons for the lack of girl cyclists can be attributed to the cross-country team, which shares the same season as mountain biking. Therefore, bikers who may have joined did cross-country instead. However, they mainly have feelings of frustration towards the league and the enforcement of a rule they feel is unfair.

“It sucks,” said freshman Jonas Carlson. “Just because no girls have interest in a sport that, even very few boys shows interest in, doesn’t mean our team should suffer. We’ve been doing really well. This has been a huge upset.”

However, the league is holding on to their rules. The rule has  been around since NICA’s conception in 2009. It was made with the hope that teams would branch out and focus on recruiting and developing girl bikers. “Equal representation and diversity,” is the way Carter describes it.

What is more important: obtaining new and diverse bikers, or keeping the ones you already have?

“I realized just how stupid their rules are. NICA is harsh. No wheelies, no taking both hands off your handlebars, minimum 2 genders a team or your season is ruined,” exclaimed the upset freshman Ethan Peterson “A kid last year [on the joint team] got disqualified for doing a foot high wheelie for like, three seconds. Ridiculous”.

Carter, Carlson, and Peterson all claimed that this experience has affected their overall outlook on the league. With such a high ranking team, what would one expect?

“We’re desperate. We’re trying to fix the problem, but there’s not much we can do. We’re asking any girl who might… look like she has any interest in biking. Basically we’re just profiling people,” Carter says then chuckles “I mean, there’s not really many other options we have.”

Despite their irritation, our bikers are far from done competing in this sport. In their last race, on October 9th, the JV team brought competition to Duluth and placed 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th.