Cardigan Mountain School A boarding and day school for boys in grades 6 through 9

Letter from the Mountain Bike Coach

We are always looking for student-athletes ready for a new challenge to join our strong core of returning riders!

The mountain bike team participates in a cross-country race series along with Lakes Region schools including Proctor Academy, Tilton School, New Hampton School, Vermont Academy, and Holderness School. We even have a race against our rival, Eaglebrook School! Racers are grouped in three race classes based on speed and skill, ensuring that both veteran riders and those newer to the sport will have equal opportunity to be competitive, improve their skills, and to have fun.  

While the mountain bike program certainly strives to develop competitive racers, we do not only focus on results as a measure of success. The program helps each student-athlete set and achieve personal goals for the improvement of their strength, speed, cardiovascular endurance, technical bike skills, and overall fitness. In the process, athletes improve their confidence, ability to overcome physical and psychological challenges, and foster a love and appreciation for recreation in the natural world. We learn proper trail etiquette, basic bike maintenance and repair skills, and serve as positive ambassadors of both the sport and of Cardigan. 

Scheduled team activities include race days (generally one per week), on-campus training designed to improve cardiovascular fitness/leg strength and technical bike skills, trail building and maintenance, as well as off-campus rides. On Saturdays we travel to some of New England’s finest mountain biking destinations, including Kingdom Trails, Millstone, Pine Hill Park, and Highland Mountain Bike Park. This variety is sure to challenge any rider!

Due to the competitive and technical nature of a mountain bike team, each rider will be required to furnish much of his own equipment and to provide for the maintenance and repair of that equipment. There is a financial commitment required to purchase these items and to maintain them in good working order. However, we do not view the costs associated with mountain biking to be unreasonable. A properly-sized bike may serve a growing rider for several years, and much of the additional equipment can last significantly longer. While we encourage riders to purchase their own bikes, we understand that sometimes this is not feasible. Cardigan does have several race-worthy bikes that may be available for rent (depending on sizing and demand.) While there will be an associated rental fee for these bikes, we hope the reduced cost helps open the door for new riders.

Please do not buy a new bike without first speaking with the Mountain Bike coaching staff. We can help you pick out the proper bike or set you up with our local sponsor (and past Cardigan Parent Dick Drummond) of Drummond Custom Cycles.    

I am very excited for the upcoming mountain biking season this fall, and I encourage prospective riders of all experience levels to consider joining us. If you have any questions regarding Cardigan’s mountain bike team, please feel free to email me at tnevins@cardigan.org. If you are already committed to joining the team, I encourage you to ride during these last few days of summer vacation, and get those bike legs and lungs in shape! 

Sincerely,

Travis Nevins
Cardigan Mountain Biking Head Coach
tnevins@cardigan.org
 

Each rider will be required to furnish the following: all of which can be ordered or purchased through Dick Drummond of Drummond Custom Cycles or other retailers. These do not need to be purchased before coming to campus and should not be purchased before making sure mountain biking is the right sport for your son.

  • A front or dual-suspension mountain bike in good working order. It must be of the type sold in bike specialty shops, not from a big box store. Bikes from mass retailers simply do not withstand the rigors of this type of riding. The bike should be a cross-country or trail bike, and not a downhill, free ride, or all-mountain bike. If a boy has a serious commitment to participating on the team but does not have access to a bike, please contact me. We may be able to find an alternate solution.
  • An ANSI-approved bike helmet in good condition. No full face helmets, please.
  • Hydration, either in a hydration pack (Camelback type) or two large water bottles with bike-mounted bottle cages. Personal preference is the rule here, but I recommend a hydration pack, as it also carries the equipment and food every rider will need. 
  • Repair equipment for the trail. Each rider will need to carry his own mini pump, tire levers, spare tube, tube patch kit, and a small (9−15 pc) multi-tool. If the rider is wearing a hydration pack (the recommended option), these tools fit inside. If the rider is using water bottles, then a tail/underseat bag should be provided. Being equipped to make small repairs on the trail is an integral part of responsible mountain biking. 
  • At least one pair of bike-specific shorts equipped with a padded chamois. These can be either the tight-fit Lycra bike shorts or the loose-fit baggy type, which have a padded inner short. Again, these must be specifically made for bike riding. They should be black, forest green, gray, or white in color. 
  • Suitable eye protection. Sunglasses with a light tint work best, and even the yellow tint shooter’s glasses work well. We will be riding in the woods, generally, so these are more to prevent bugs and debris from injuring the eyes than for blocking out the sun. They really don’t need to be expensive, but they should be durable.
  • Bike gloves, either full finger or half finger.

Recommended, but not required:

  • Clipless pedals. Learning to ride with these takes some practice, but they are exceptionally helpful for this type of riding. Platform pedals or toe cages put a cross-country rider at a real disadvantage. 
  • Bike shoes. These only work with clipless pedals, but you can’t ride clipless pedals without bike-specific shoes.