The Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance (PMBA) pulled together a perfect combination of fun, learning and mentorship for their first annual PMBA Youth Program last spring and summer. Young riders of all experience levels benefitted.
Blue Taylor has been riding a pedal bike since age three. Now almost 12 years old, Blue rode in the 15 Proof Whiskey Off-Road Fun Ride in Prescott in 2017 and 2018. His father, Linde Lisbona, says that Blue embraces any opportunity to ride his bike on the trails around Prescott, especially when he can connect with other kids. Blue looks forward to the PMBA program again this year.
16-year old Gavin Gorman is the type of youth who enjoys physical activity, but not necessarily in a competitive environment. He had very little mountain biking experience prior to the summer of 2018. However, he was so excited with his new-found skills through the PMBA Youth Program that he joined the Prescott High School mountain bike team and competed as a racer in the Fall, 2018 season.
Amelia Ehrlich was introduced to mountain biking at summer camp. It was her activity of choice during camp free time. In June 2018, after participating in the PMBA Youth Program, she felt that she had developed the confidence and skills to join her local youth racing team. Now 13 years old, Amelia is looking forward to another summer with her friends and mentors from PMBA.
Blue, Gavin and Amelia have differing levels of mountain bike experience, but have found common ground through the PMBA program. PMBA Board President Charlie Glasel says that this is one of the program’s main goals.
“We meet the participants where they are in terms of experience,” says Glasel. “Our coaches are trained through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association and offer a step-by-step skill building approach. Each new skill builds on the last one. We get the kids out on the trials as soon as possible, to allow them to practice their skills and experience the joy of being out on the trail.”
PMBA is a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and was founded in 2010 to unite Prescott area mountain bikers who share interests in riding, trail use and trail access, as well as to more effectively work with land managers, land owners and the national forest. As the alliance grew, it was a natural progression to reach out to the next generation of mountain bikers.
“These kids will become the future stewards of our outdoor recreational lands,” says Gavin’s dad, Dave. “This year, Gavin wants to be there to help out with some of the younger kids. He has come so far since last summer, and he already wants to put back into his community!”
“In addition to trail riding, participants learn how to service and repair their bikes,” says Glasel. “They also have the opportunity to build and maintain trails, through our partnership with the Prescott National Forest Service.”
Parents are welcome to participate in any or all of the rides and activities. Linde especially enjoys bonding with his son on the trail.
“It’s a great activity that Blue and I both enjoy; the father-son time,” Linde says. “The program stitches him into the community in a healthy, active way. This is a way to get kids and adults together and build community, which surely benefits the community at large.”
Sponsored by Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), last year’s program was a stunning success. More than 60 youth participated in the 17 trail rides, skills clinics, and bike maintenance workshops.
“YRMC is pleased to support the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance Youth Program,” says Ken Boush, Director of Marketing and Communications at YRMC. “As the community’s not-for-profit healthcare provider, healing is only one aspect of what we do. It is also our mission to offer health education, preventive medicine and ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle for all ages. We’re proud to be involved in a program that offers youth, sometimes for the first time, a love for getting outdoors and exercising.”
Amelia says that her experience was exhilarating. “The coaches helped me build confidence in myself, both on the bike and off,” she says.
Amelia looks forward to returning to the program this year. She echoes what many mountain bikers say about the sport, regardless of their experience level. “The extra time on the trails will be great. I still have things to learn.”
The PMBA Youth Program is free of charge and available to youth who are currently in 5th through 12th grade. The spring session takes place at Pioneer Park on Mondays at 4:15 PM from April 8th through May 13th. Each trail ride lasts about an hour and 15 minutes. The summer session will begin after most of the area schools have completed the school year. The summer schedule will be posted on the PMBA website when it becomes available. Participants who don’t own a bike may borrow one from PMBA for the program. You can learn more and register at https://prescottmtb.com/youth/.