Before you got the keys to your first car, how did you get around?

Ask this question to almost anybody, man or woman and the answer is likely “my bike.” For most kids, their bicycles are their first tastes of freedom, the first time the reigns are loosened and they’re able to explore their world more fully. But with the onset of high school, obtaining a drivers license becomes almost a singular focus for most teens. I know that like many other kids, the instant I got my license and got behind the wheel of my ’86 Parisienne my bike all but disappeared.

But what if there was a way to keep cycling in the picture? What if, in addition to football, basketball, volleyball and track, there was cycling? Long rides after school? Skills courses during phys. ed. class? High school just got a lot awesomer.

Yes, I just said awesomer.

With childhood obesity on the rise, and cycling representing an activity that students may actually maintain past high school (despite every high school football and/or basketball star thinking they’re going to the NFL / NBA) this quote *should* really resonate:

I can understand the concern of high school athletic department heads who may not want to support another high school sport that could possibly drain away student athletes from traditional high school programs like football and basketball. After all, there are a lot of kids who could probably do well on a mountain bike and not have to suffer the injuries from contact sports like football or basketball.

I prefer to see kids racing bikes, though, because it is far more likely that kids will continue to race or at least ride bikes well into adulthood and it is less likely that kids will continue to play football as an older adult. Biking also opens the door to almost any youths who are capable of riding a bike. Far less kids in any school are likely to want to play contact sports.

What that means is that most of the kids in school end up as spectators at high school athletic events rather than as participants.

– Matt Nowak (from the Leavenworth Times)

Through high school I was lucky enough to be a part of many of the sports teams, but I’ll admit, if there had been a cycling team – I would have thought long and hard about it. Cycling was always an interest, but with everything going on through Jr. and Sr. High sometimes it’s tough to look beyond the borders of what your school offers – especially for those not initially interested in ‘traditional’ high school sport. A high school cycling team would definitely help bridge that gap.

In cycling meccas like Colorado, there appears to be some momentum within high schools, and after some digging I managed to find some clubs that support high school races in Squamish and Toronto. I’m also aware that there are also a number of really strong Junior programs (Alberta’s included), but nothing that’s fully integrated with high school athletics.

If there was mainstream integration of these types of programs into high school athletics, I could only imagine what that would our sport and cycling interest in general. What do you think? Does cycling foster the “right stuff” in our kid’s developing minds? Do you think there’d be any interest in such programs?