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  1. #1
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    Starting a high school club, and i have questions

    My friends and I are starting a highschool mtb club next year. We're just general trail riders i suppose, but we like to challenge ourselves with jumps and drops. We're taking this pretty seriously and we aren't just a bunch of stupid kids. The lot of us are all enrolled in Ap classes and have atleast 4.2 GPA's . Lots of kids start clubs at our school and sometimes something starts thats good that lasts a few years and others don't. We want our club to be huge and eventually get kids from our school to race in local races. We have asked our activities director at our school annd got the okay for a new club next year. We just need to write up a constitution and alll that. We also have asked one of our teachers to be our advisor. Luckily he is an avid mtb'er and knows all the good places around.

    I have been wondering, what kind of liability do we have if someone gets injured or hurt during one of our rides? Is our teacher allowed to take us out to rides without permission slips, i know sounds silly, but i dont know how these rules work. I just want to wipe out all potential lawsuits. We are also considering days where we just stay on campus and workon handling skills. Riding on skinnies and all that stuff... somewhat like those indoor parks. Would the school be held respoonsible if someone gets hurt ? I doubt it will be that dangerous... kids in football get hurt all the time, but i just want to be safe.

    Thanks, and sorry for the long post, just needed to get my thoughts down.

  2. #2
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    Sounds like your school will have all the answers you need. I would be especially careful of off campus meetings with teachers. Better be POSITIVE someone knows about it, or it could be trouble. Not sure about the liability issues. The way I see it, people walk onto school campuses ALL the time after hours and you never hear of lawsuits if a neighborhood kid gets hurt on the playground.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by seedubxj
    Sounds like your school will have all the answers you need. I would be especially careful of off campus meetings with teachers. Better be POSITIVE someone knows about it, or it could be trouble. Not sure about the liability issues. The way I see it, people walk onto school campuses ALL the time after hours and you never hear of lawsuits if a neighborhood kid gets hurt on the playground.
    that's kinda whatt i was thinking. Just have the parents sign something, with physical and med ensurance similar to the other sports. Going on rides would be liike an away game at football, right ?

  4. #4
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    well my friends and i had started a gamerz club because we were bored, and got around all the paperwork by having meetings only at school then saying stuff like, we're meeting here on this day, if u guys randomly show up and bring $5 we can all do this event.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Connundrum1
    well my friends and i had started a gamerz club because we were bored, and got around all the paperwork by having meetings only at school then saying stuff like, we're meeting here on this day, if u guys randomly show up and bring $5 we can all do this event.
    Lol, cheaters... What's a gamerz club ?

  6. #6
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    well it started because we were pissed the seniors our first year took dues and did nothing with them, then decided it would look good for college. its a club where we'd have kids bring in video games and they could play once a week at lunch. well, finally the kids run the club themselves and all of us who started the club are going to junior college. didn't work too well i guess.

  7. #7
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    Do it right.

    Try our League Website:
    http://www.norcalmtb.org/

    and PULL DOWN at TEAMS to START A TEAM.

    There is a lot of other information on the site that may interest you. We do not advocate for "jumps and drops" or Downhill but for Cross Country. That approach is far more palatable for risk conscious adminstrators.

  8. #8
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    A friend of mine is a science teacher in Austin and runs a club that takes the students on mtb trips, climbing, camping, etc. However, it is a "high end" private school (i.e. one I could never afford to send my kids to) so that probably changes things. Also, they are more cross country than DH/FR.

    While I would certainly not advertise drops and jumps to the school administration, there are lots of relevant skills you could work on for this type of riding (manualing, pumping rhythms, pumping turns, bunnyhops, cutties, cornering techniques, etc). You could also try positioning the club as more of a BMX racing club as BMX appears to be widely accepted and all of the skills are directly applicable. You can also race your MTB in cruiser class on a BMX track - and most tracks have doubles and table tops you can jump.

    While I'm thinking about it - there is a DVD called "Fundamentals" put out by Dirt magazine that is a real eye opener and could probably benefit everyone except the most elite world class pro. Get a copy and watch it during one of your club meetings.

    Finally, what city are you in? My daughter is a junior this year and loves to mountain bike. We are in San Jose.

    Best of Luck!
    Old Dog

  9. #9
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    link for technique video

    looks like the group that puts out "Fundamentals" is in the UK. You can try
    https://www.safeserver.co.uk/boxoffice/mtb.html
    or http://www.4130.com and navigate down through "Dirt Magazine".

    I found a copy at my LBS.

    Cheers,
    Mark

  10. #10
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    We are in San jose as well, Piedmont hills high school, part of east side union district.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    Try our League Website:
    http://www.norcalmtb.org/

    and PULL DOWN at TEAMS to START A TEAM.

    There is a lot of other information on the site that may interest you. We do not advocate for "jumps and drops" or Downhill but for Cross Country. That approach is far more palatable for risk conscious adminstrators.
    What are the most dangerous techniques that your club practices. Do you guys ride on very technical trails, or just tamed single track and fireroads.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by b12yan88
    We are in San jose as well, Piedmont hills high school, part of east side union district.
    Wow! You are in my back yard. My daughter goes to Independance, but our next door neghboor goes to Piedmont. Send me a PM if you want to hook up for riding or borrow the video. I'll talk to my buddy in Austin and ask him what he had to do to set up the club there.

    If you're into big drops and stuff, I know some local guys who do some insane drops and would be happy to make introductions. While I have been riding a long time, I'm new to the DH/FR scene. The biggest drops I've done are probably not much more than 4 ft.

  13. #13
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    Did you know that

    there is a Norcal League Team at Los Gatos? It is only one rider but the coach is great.
    It sounds like you are in the very early stages of understanding exactly what you are asking a group of riders to do within an academic context. From the way you express your desires I imagine you will have to go through some adjustment to ride with a Club that fits in our League. Jumping, drops, and high speed downhill as disciplines are not allowed or encouraged and their applicability to what we do is very limited. By the end of a season we are doing things far more challenging than that.
    As to what we ride.......we train to race. We gradually condition our riders to race at their top abilities for up to 30 miles and 5000 ft of climbing, multiple water crossings and all weather conditions. "Jumpers," as I have experienced them, end up leaving the Club because jumping was more fun. I had one do his Sea Otter last year in 1º50'. He didn't ride with us this year and his Sea Otter was 2º 33'. He still hangs around with us at times. He's a good kid.
    Trail conditions concerning changes in grade and substarate, trail width, passing and such are all pretty managable once fundimentals are established and developed further. The funny thing you learn is that speed is the least neccessary of qualities needed to handle any of these. Probably the most dangerous situation most team riders face is being able to ride together over long periods of time for about 1000 miles with riders of widely divergent skills. Putting "hot dogs"and other riders in the same space makes for some interesting circumstances. It is often the riders who think they are the best who cause the most problems. These potentially fine riders either pull it back and learn or are pulled back and taught. I can honeslty say I have never lost a potentially fine rider because, after a bit, if they have any brain at all, they see the value of what we provide.
    We have some very specific ideas about how we expect riders to ride with a view to safety. The riders who get hurt gnerally ride outside our guidelines. As a coach bringing a kid with a broken arm or collarbone back to worried parents is a nightmare. We don't have much of that and there is a reason why. This isn't a cross country running team where you can just send a bunch of kids out and run. This is mechanized speed over varying terrrain and grades and levels of fatigue for many, many hours under all conditins. It deserves respect and special handling.
    So if you are looking to huck or drop or jump or something you should just forget about it at the school. You will just cause problems for everyone. You heard it here and that isn't going to change. If you want to learn to ride well and race, just hook up.
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    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 04-21-2005 at 06:12 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Dog
    Wow! You are in my back yard. My daughter goes to Independance, but our next door neghboor goes to Piedmont. Send me a PM if you want to hook up for riding or borrow the video. I'll talk to my buddy in Austin and ask him what he had to do to set up the club there.

    If you're into big drops and stuff, I know some local guys who do some insane drops and would be happy to make introductions. While I have been riding a long time, I'm new to the DH/FR scene. The biggest drops I've done are probably not much more than 4 ft.
    Same here, we aren't very aggressive riders, but like i said, love a challenge. I think I'll probably have to look into this a little more, but Mike probably has lots of truth to what he's saying.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by b12yan88
    Same here, we aren't very aggressive riders, but like i said, love a challenge. I think I'll probably have to look into this a little more, but Mike probably has lots of truth to what he's saying.
    Mike is correct in that there is a lot to be learned concerning fitness, skills, discipline, and team work in a cross country mtb team. He is also correct in that an academic environment is going to frown on "hucking" and "free ride" activities.

    However, with all due respect to Mike, I would take one exception to what he says regarding skill sets. There is a skill set possessed by racers of BMX, dual slalom, and downhill that would be of great benefit to cross country racers - and to be certain the best pro cross country racers possess these skills. While there are several skills in this category, the most dramatic is the ability to pump the bike through corners or over bumps to gain speed. To see this just go to the Santa Clara PAL BMX track this Friday night and watch the top riders accelerate through the rhythm sections and turns. They aren't even pedaling and yet they pick up speed as they navigate these obstacles.

    Mike makes a good point though when he mentions the kid that did not train with them and his times went down. Downhill racing and dual slalom are extremely physically demanding. Guys (and gals) who win these races are in top physical shape and you can bet they spend lots of time on their cross country bikes or road bikes getting their cardio vascular fitness up, not to mention weight training.

    I've raced road bikes (USCF), Grand Prix Motorcycles (WERA, AFM), Cars (SCCA), mountain bikes (NORBA), and BMX (ABA). I've also done a ton of ridding just for fun. It is all good and you can learn and have fun with any of it if you have the right frame of mind. And make no mistake; all forms of racing (even motor sports) require good physical fitness. Even dirt jumping and free riding require much more fitness than you probably realize.

    So I guess the real question is what do you want to do? You probably don't really know at this point, so I would recommend getting some exposure to different ridding disciplines.

    Mike has some good connections and guidance for cross country, so check it out.

    I'll be at the Santa Clara PAL BMX track tomorrow (Friday). If you need directions or a ride, send me a message. Track opens at 6:30 PM and races start at 7:30 PM.

    If you want to see more challenging trails in the area - technical climbs and descents, you can either contact me or try a local bike shop. I would recommend Trail Head. Lars is the owner and best rider, but everyone there rides at a high level and knows all the local trails. They often organize local rides for shop patrons.

    If you think downhill is really your thing, again talk to Lars. I know he is organizing some trips to Northstar this summer (Tahoe area). I'm sure he would be happy to set you up with a loaner bike if you came with his group. You can also rent bikes up there, or ride your own (just be more careful what you try to go down and how fast you go).

    Hope this helps. And who says the club has to be specific to a particular type of riding? You could form a general interest bike club where you invite skilled cyclist from different disciplines to give talks and clinics, have club rides, attend races and events (as spectators or participants), and just share information.

    -Mark

  16. #16
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    im starting the club along with bryan, and i think you guys make some great points.

    at this stage i dont think we have anything concrete yet, as we are still concerned mostly on the technical aspects of the club.

    i think our next proceeding would be to speak with the school admins, teachers, to sort out liability issues and the such. just to feel as to the limits of the club. i think the school would probably not look to kindly upon the idea of jumps and stuff (understandably) and i think its best we find a comfortable medium as to the limits/activities of the club.

    so far we are pretty much decided on a few key aspects:

    -group rides (even though we like technical/Jump/drop fun stuff, i still think the club will be mainlyand very very XC oriented. most beginning bikers will find xc far more appealing anyway, as it is probably the best mode of introducing the sport)
    -skill building (balance, obstacles of sorts)
    -biker awareness (me and bryan definately think many people would enjoy biking. not a lot of people at our school do, and the more mtn bikers around the more fun it is+sense of community)
    -races (theres nothing like occasional competitions,just small ones within the club... itll keep things interesting)

    obviously we still have the issues about providing enough bikes/equipment, but that is all later. i think first and foremost we should sort out the technicalities, that way we have a sense of what we have to work with.
    Last edited by dslfoolish; 04-21-2005 at 11:41 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike
    So if you are looking to huck or drop or jump or something you should just forget about it at the school. You will just cause problems for everyone. You heard it here and that isn't going to change. If you want to learn to ride well and race, just hook up.
    In terms of the evident danger in this, aren't other school sports more prone to danger than mountain biking. Between my friends and I, the worse thing we have done is smash our shins with pedals. Yes, the potential for injury is quite high when in the air, but i doubt we will try anything that can cause serious injury. Even supposing so, football which is probably our biggest school sport, churns out an injury every year. Every year some kid Will break something, but everyone supports it no matter how dangerous it is, as evident in the revenue. If we were to have kids sign the same insurance forms and all that, would that be better ?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by b12yan88
    In terms of the evident danger in this, aren't other school sports more prone to danger than mountain biking. Between my friends and I, the worse thing we have done is smash our shins with pedals. Yes, the potential for injury is quite high when in the air, but i doubt we will try anything that can cause serious injury. Even supposing so, football which is probably our biggest school sport, churns out an injury every year. Every year some kid Will break something, but everyone supports it no matter how dangerous it is, as evident in the revenue. If we were to have kids sign the same insurance forms and all that, would that be better ?
    no way to tell for sure until we ask them. still, the schools are understandly cautious towards anything involving risk at all. we all know schools are weary when it comes to these things involving high potential injury, and they technically dont need to let us do it based on that fact alone. last thing we/school want is to have angry moms come looking for us because their kid got hurt.

    football would be easier to press than biking in my opinion, since its such a largely accepted sport, even if it involves MORE risk than biking. the schools dont like unnecessary risks. justifying it using football as a comparison is GOOD in my opinion, but i hardly think the school would buy it. like football, i think we stand a better chance at expanding the club's abilities if we gain acceptance/support for it (much like football).

  19. #19
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    Refer to the Norcal Website

    What you are tryng to do has been done before. It's not like you are going to pull off some miraculous and dazzlingly brilliant arguement about relative risk. Take advantage of what has been learned. It is like riding a trail you have never done and want to do with someone who knows it well. It is just a lot easier and you end up looking like a better rider than you are. And face it, when you deal with administrators, you need all the help you can get. Good luck.

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