Josh White coaches from experience
Mountain biking is a common activity on the Hill, but now it is a sport at Idyllwild Middle School. Josh White, owner of the Idyllwild Inn, is the unexpected coach of a seven-member team, composed of sixth- and seventh-grade students.
This is his first year as coach and he said, “I’m enjoying it more than I thought. It’s another excuse to be on a bike.” This also is the first year the school has had a team.
“I’m extremely excited to have a mountain bike team that will feed into the high school team at Hemet High,” wrote Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer. “We have the some of the very best trails to train right out our back door!”
The season has already started and will finish in May. The first race was in late February at Lake Perris and this past weekend, the team rode in the Vail Lake Challenge. There are two other races before the May 5 and 6 Southern California finals at Tehachapi.
White bikes frequently and has participated in several mountain-bike competitions. His son, Seth, a sixth grader, was going to bike on the team and White volunteered to help. But as things go, he became the de facto coach and “loves it.”
Practices began in the fall. For the first few, he helped with technique and bike mechanics. Out on the trails and on the bike is the fun part, White said. “The detail organization stuff is tougher, but with email and texts, that makes it easier.”
White is not alone coaching the team. He has several people, including former students, current teachers and parents, and experienced bike racers. For example, Kevin Holldber raced in college and Nikki Peterson is a professional mountain-bike racer. Dawn Sonnier and Tanya Wampler are former Idyllwild students. Tom Dillion is the current fourth-grade teacher. And Misty Hitchcock, recovering from ankle injury, has extensive experience coaching. Her three children were Hemet High School athletes.
Coaching involves teaching riding techniques such as taking turns — fast, slow and tight — while on a trail and even braking styles. Several of the early practices were learning how to change a tire or replacing the chain.
He had to be sure they understood how the bike operates. Once the race starts, the riders are on their own until they cross the finish. And the distance of the different race courses ranges from about 6.5 miles to slightly more than 8 miles.