Mountain biking camp set

Young riders participate in a recent Bike Train to School event in Spearfish. Spearfish-based MakeSPACE will host a mountain biking camp later this summer for girls in fifth through seventh grade. Courtesy photo

SPEARFISH — Girls in fifth through seventh grade wishing to gain proficiency in mountain biking may register for a camp set for July 29 through Aug. 2.

Spearfish-based MakeSPACE (Spearfish Partnership for Arts, Cycling, and Equity) will sponsor the camp. Riders of all skill levels are welcome to register.

The camp lasts from 8 a.m. to noon all five days. Riders meet at the shop (517 West Jackson Street) to go to Big Hill Trailhead.

Lessons center on basic skills needed to feel comfortable riding on beginner mountain bike trails.

Certified mountain bike instructors Michelle Stampe and Molly Murrow will provide instruction to the riders.

Braking, turning, riding a bike, getting on and off a bike, shifting, and varying speeds are some of the things to take center stage the first half of each day.

Practicing on a trail comes next.

Riders of all skill levels are welcome.

They may ride around town or on gravel trails to prepare for the camp.

Five girls had signed up by the original May 13 deadline, but program director Niklas Peters said registration will continue until 15 spots are filled.

He added the latter number provides a good student-to-teacher ratio.

This program is offered on a pay-what-you-can donation basis.

The full suggested cost per participant is $250, but riders may donate as they are able. Online application forms encourage interested individuals to indicate if they need a mountain bike, helmet, or financial assistance.

“We are continuing to do outreach at the schools right now, with kids’ clubs, a few other bike-related organizations in town, just to try to get the word out there more,” Peters said.

The idea for this project largely coincided with the inception of MakeSPACE.

“One of the founding ideas is to, especially for the bike program, get more women and girls on bicycles,” Peters said.

A funding organization specializing in girls’ outdoor activities provided a grant for this effort.

“Riding on a mountain bike, and riding on these trails, is thinking about safety in terms of your own safety,” Peters said. That centers on not crashing, not going off the trail, and being able to handle the terrain.

“Success looks like, for girls who are just learning to ride, that they feel comfortable on their bikes and are excited to be biking more,” Peters said. For the more advanced riders, he defined success as meeting others with biking interests.

Peters recommends riders bringing their own bikes. MakeSPACE is reaching out to sponsors for size-appropriate bikes and helmets for others.

Riders derive many benefits from taking part in programs like this, Peters said. They include increased confidence and self-esteem along with empowerment.

“It’s a challenge every day. It’s a challenge with you and the trail,” Peter said. He also cited the connections that riders establish.

Visit the Girls on Bikes Summer Program Facebook page for more information.

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