ASHLAND – For as many trails as there are in southern Oregon and as many athletes who seek the thrill of mountain biking, perhaps it’s surprising that an official league hasn’t been organized.
But this fall, for students in grades six through 12, that’ll likely be changing.
"Mountain biking's one of my main passions, my main hobbies, and I saw that that was the same for a lot of people in the Rogue Valley, but it hadn't been organized in this way yet," said Casey Botts, southern Oregon’s lead organizer.
It’s a thrill that kids like 11-year-old Kahlil Kem have coveted for a while. Now, he’ll get to share it with others who feel the same.
"I feel super excited and I feel like I'm flying when I go off a big jump," he said.
"This is what we've been talking about as a family that is really needed here in this southern Oregon area,” his mother, Gretchen Harteis, said. “With Kahlil, the challenge is always trying to find kids who are available to bike."
The league has seen the most interest in Ashland, but hopes to include other cities in the Rogue Valley to form an official team by the fall. It will be a branch of the Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League and is open to those with or without mountain biking experience.
Botts envisions four to five races “at venues where you can camp and make a weekend out of it.”
“It’s inspiring to get kids on bikes because it’ll build the next generation of trail builders and leaders,” Botts said.
He added that the league continues to look for interested students, volunteers and coaches.