Photograph by Jonas Nykamp
You would be hard pressed to find a high school with a more passionate and successful mountain bike team than Berkeley High School (BHS). Founded in 1988, it’s the oldest team dedicated to mountain biking in California. It seems only natural, considering mountain biking was conceived just across the bay in Marin, and BHS is located right near two excellent biking locations: Tilden and Joaquin Miller Park. The BHS Mountain Bike Team has created a culture among as many as eighty riders that mixes fun and hard work to create an impressively successful organization.
The team trains for cross-country races in a highly competitive league, causing the training is more strenuous than you might think; it’s not all down hill. “Mountain biking allows the freedom to explore, and push your limits physically all while being 100% human-powered and self-reliant,” said head coach Nick Hoeper-Tomich.
While it’s a tough balance of physical strength, stamina, and technical ability, mountain biking may just be one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise out there.
No matter who you talk to on the team, they will always mention the community first. All the riders are welcome to participate in any race, regardless of skill level, and the team is co-ed. “The community is great and super tight-knit,” said Sprague. “I’ve made what I hope are lifelong friends just by showing up to practice every week. I don’t know that any other team or club at BHS has such a friendly and encouraging community within it.”
Although mountain bikers ride individually in races, they are still very much a member of a team. Anyone that desires to compete can participate, regardless of skill level. “Teamwork factors in a lot because you ride with the same people everyday,” said junior Jasper Andrews. The team provides a community of people who all love mountain biking, and work hard for it constantly. “Everyone supports and pushes each other,” said Kahena Wilhite, another junior rider. The difficult climbs riders face don’t seem so bad when they’ve got the whole team behind them.
The team is looking forward to another great season and hold hopes to grow the program even further, and move up to second in the NorCal rankings after a strong finish in third last season. Sprague is looking forward to the upcoming season and all it has to offer, and said, “I’m so grateful to be a part of a club that has changed how I feel about myself and others. I can’t wait to start my third season with the Jackets!”