The school’s mountain biking club, founded in 2011 by math teacher Stefanie Gore, provides students with the opportunity to learn about bike maintenance, trail maintenance and nutrition, as well as the ability to improve their skills and compete in races.
Students also have the opportunity to earn a letter in mountain biking.
Gore, who founded the first mountain bike club in the county at Cherokee High School in 2004, said she first sponsored the club to give students an alternative to the more traditional sports without the added pressure of fighting for their place on a team.
“Not all kids are going to want to play basketball or football, and no one wants to sit on the bench,” Gore said. “When you mountain bike, everybody rides.”
Gore said she was overwhelmed at the level of interest in the club at River Ridge.
“We’ve had a phenomenal response towards the club,” she said. “I would say that we will have around 20 members in it this year. Some years, at Cherokee, we would only have five or six. Here, at River Ridge, we’ve more than tripled those numbers.”
For Gore, the benefits of the club are numerous.
“I’ve had students that have lost a lot of weight, and because of that, their confidence had grown,” Gore said. “I’ve seen kids go from being good at nothing athletically to being very good at mountain biking, and it did wonders for them. It boosted their self-esteem.”
Gore also said that, with a higher level of confidence in themselves, many of the club’s members have improved their academic performance as well.
“Its amazing to see how much riding a bike and being good at it can affect you inside the classroom,” Gore said.
Luke McKenzie, a student at River Ridge, felt that being a part of the club has helped toughen him up.
“Physically, I’ve gained a lot of strength and endurance,” McKenzie said. “Mentally, I gained a lot of drive. I’ve learned not to quit.”
Gore also pointed out that mountain biking is something students can continue to do long after they graduate.
“It gives you something to do with your friends, even when you are out of high school,” Gore said. “Best of all, anyone can do it.”
Students who wish to join the River Ridge club, can meet at 6 p.m. on Mondays at the Blankets Creek trails off Sixes Road.