Rocky Heights riding high

Middle school mountain bike club takes to the trails

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After learning that Mountain Ridge Middle School had its own mountain biking club, Linda Homstad’s wheels started spinning.

At the time, Homstad was teaching at Ranch View Middle School, but the second the sixth-grade English teacher arrived at Rocky Heights Middle School after transferring from across town, she put those wheels in motion and created a club of her own.

“Having these trails right here, we just had to do it,” said Homstad, who sponsors the club along with fellow teacher Cullen Hilsendager.

The school, located just south of Rock Canyon High School, backs up to the Highlands Ranch Community Association’s Backcountry Wilderness Area trails. Despite the school’s prime location, Homstad was pleasantly surprised at the turnout of interested students when the club gathered for the first time this fall.

“I was hoping for 10 students,” she said. “We ended up with 44. We had so many kids that wanted to do it that we had to split it up over two days.”

Homstad and Hilsendager head out on Wednesdays with the more advanced riders and spend Mondays with the beginners. Accompanied by about five parent volunteers each day, they split into small groups so everyone can ride at their own pace. The club plans on continuing to ride through mid-November and then pick back up in the spring, while having small-group rides on nice days throughout the winter.

When seventh-grader Jack Bartholomew first heard that the club was forming, he jumped at the chance to join. Biking for nearly four years, Bartholomew said riding helps him keep his mind clear, and since he isn’t involved in any other extracurricular activities, it is the perfect chance for him to meet some new friends.

“This is awesome,” he said. “It is something I like to do and something I enjoy doing every day after school. I know these trails pretty well, too, so I know where I’m going.”

While Bartholomew enjoys the adrenaline rush of going downhill and likes to get technical with his riding, other riders in the beginning class just like getting out there.

Sixth-graders Alyssa Marino and Ainsley Messenger have been riding their bikes to school together since the third grade, but are just beginning to hit the trails.

“I’m excited to ride some different places,” Messenger said. “I was looking for something to do and this sounded fun.”