Socorro County kids had the opportunity to enjoy the local trails on mountain bikes with the TRY-IT-OUT program hosted by the New Mexico National Interscholastic Cycling Association at the Rodeo Grounds last month.

“It was really great to have that diverse range of riders. They did a really awesome job of supporting each other, and to have so many parents and grandparents and mentors in the community show up and come on the ride was great, too,” Alex Weier, program coordinator and coach, said.

The new grant-funded program focuses on smaller rural communities that have an interest in mountain biking. Their goals are to get kids on bikes and potentially recruit for its New Mexico cycling league. The program provides bikes, helmets, instruction and pizza for free.

Weier kicked off the program, teaching the group the basics of bike safety, such as understanding brakes, body positioning and shifting.

“I tried to break it down to the three core skills; what I think are the most bare-bones essentials to get a kid safely on a bike,” Weier said. “So, we started with those three basic skills and then went out on the trail. It was really awesome to see the kids apply that over the ride and just get the opportunity to try that out.”
He said the loop at the rodeo grounds starts on a double track, which allowed the kids to get comfortable on the bike. Then, it goes to a flat single track, followed by alternating terrain that takes riders up and down.

“A lot of the parents were saying they were impressed just seeing the kids progress just even over the course of that ride. So, I think the course you have out in Socorro is a really positive and good for newer riders and also experienced riders to have fun on.”

He said the Youth Cycling league is made up of composite teams, which is beneficial because it allows for a whole range of students to participate; it doesn’t matter what school they go to or if they are non-traditional students.

“NICA gives kids an opportunity for community and to meet others who are like minded and want to be outside doing outdoor activities. So, it’s a great opportunity for them, to meet other kids in their community and make those connections.”

New Mexico National Interscholastic Cycling Association is a volunteer nonprofit organization on a mission to get more kids and families on bikes and spend time together outside.

“NICA is about youth development and mountain biking. And so we’re really trying to build a great human so like strong bodies, mind, character and community through biking,” Mary Grow, New Mexico NICA Director, said. “Our approach is less sports focused and more youth development focused; we are trying to build that community that kids can participate in and families of the whole can participate in.”

The nonprofit was created in 2022 and has grown from two annual events to four, including one in Socorro. Grow said they have 18 teams in the state and hope to develop a team in Socorro.

Recognizing the financial obstacles, they developed a scholarship fund that issued 54 scholarships last year and another 17 full scholarships with a partnership with Trek Bikes. For more information visit: www.newmexicomtb.org