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Clarkson professor looking to start mountain biking club at Potsdam high school

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POTSDAM — Pending formal approval from the board of education, which is expected at its next meeting, Potsdam High School will become home to St. Lawrence County’s first mountain biking team. The board of education listened to a presentation about the team at its meeting this week.

Potsdam Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he was approached by Douglas G. Bohl, a professor at Clarkson University, and Philip Foisy, who teaches social studies in the district. “It’s a pretty exciting idea and a good opportunity for our kids,” he said.

Mr. Bohl said roughly a dozen students have expressed interest in the club and are hoping to participate in their first race next month.

“My goal is for the club to participate in two races this spring,” he wrote in a letter to the board. “Tentatively they are: April 27 in Albany and June 1 in New Windsor.”

The June 1 race is considered the state championship.

“The goal of this club is to provide an opportunity to learn mountain biking skills in a structured program, race with the league, learn to appreciate the outdoors and have some serious fun with a sport the kids can participate in for a lifetime,” he said.

Mr. Bohl, who described himself as “an avid biker,” said he will be assisted by other adult volunteers including Philip Foisy, Shannon Fryberg and Jim Aikens, all of whom he described as “great mountain bikers.”

He said safety will be the priority, and teachers will focus on basic skills such as balance, handling and turning.

Mr. Bohl compared the sport to cross-country and said much of the team’s practice would take place on the trails at Clarkson. He said he would like to begin practice as soon as possible by using stationary bikes indoors until the weather improves. He said participants would be covered by an insurance policy held by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

The cost for a student to register with NICA is $50, with a $30 fee for each race. Each child will be asked to pay dues of $25, to be used to register the team and purchase supplies. Team jerseys expected to cost $80 are also planned.

Noting that he doesn’t want a lack of equipment to be a barrier, he said Wear on Earth, a sporting goods store in Potsdam, has indicated a willingness to donate some bikes to the club and he is seeking other donations from the community.

“We do not plan to ask the district for financial support for the club,” he said.

As the club continues to grow, Mr. Bohl said he would one day like to see races hosted in Potsdam. As the club includes a variety of grade levels, he thinks it is sustainable and will only grow in the future.

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