Nationwide event makes its first appearance in Gallatin Valley

By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BOZEMAN – According to Melissa Cronin, mountain biking is a lifelong journey.

“Unlike team or other sports, you can mountain bike until you are physically incapable,” Cronin said.

“It kind of pushes your boundaries in that you have to try really hard.” Even on an easy trail, Cronin described challenges such as getting a tire over a stubborn rock, or pedaling farther than you have before. “When you challenge yourself and bump up on those barriers, there is a sense of confidence building that I’ve especially seen in kids.”

Cronin is a member of the board of the Southwest Montana Mountain Bike Association and is one of the ringleaders responsible for bringing a national kid’s mountain biking day to Bozeman.

On Oct. 7, SWMMBA will host Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day for the first time in Gallatin Valley, partnering with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Bozeman Youth Cycling, Bozeman Pedal Project and Buddy Pegs. The event is a part of a larger, national movement organized by the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Every year on the first Saturday in October, Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day is celebrated throughout the U.S.

From 2 to 4 p.m. kids ages 6 to 18 are invited to the East Gallatin Recreation Area near the toes of the Bridger Mountains to try out bikes, ask questions, participate in trail challenges, and get out and pedal. With a number of beginner trails around the East Gallatin Recreation Area, youth of all skill levels will be able to hit the trail.

“I think it is a great atmosphere to introduce kids to mountain biking. The trails are easy and attainable,” said GVLT Trails Project Manager Jeff Hough, who worked with Cronin to bring the event to Bozeman. “I think when there are other kids, they all want to get out there with the group and have fun.

“Being in nature and on the trails is very different than riding on the road,” Hough added.

“It exposes [kids] to a natural world, which is becoming more and more difficult,” Cronin said. “It’s a really amazing way to go out and see an environment and appreciate nature.”

Youth are encouraged to bring their own bikes and helmets, from strider bikes to mountain bikes, but Hough said there will also be a small selection of loaner bikes and helmets on hand.

Added to the mix, the bicycle repair center Bozeman Bike Kitchen will bring its expertise to the event, offering repair and tune-up services as well as bike and helmet safety checks.

IMBA’s national Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day started in 2004 and is a celebration of youth cycling as inspired by Jack Doub, an avid teenage mountain biker from North Carolina who was passionate about the sport and sharing it with others.

After Doub’s untimely death in 2002, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina introduced a resolution to Congress declaring the first Saturday in October as National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day. The resolution was established in 2004 and since then, IMBA estimates nearly 100,000 youth have taken part in the national events.