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 Idyllwild School Mountain Bike team prepares for another practice ride. From left are Michael Stroud, Jake Fey, Colby Sonnier, Mei Li Stroud, Jakob Parsons, Seth White and Coach Josh White. Michael and Jakob are in seventh, grade and the other four bikers are sixth graders. Photo by JP Crumrine

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.


  1. Introducing children to mountain biking is CRIMINAL. Mountain biking, besides being expensive and very environmentally destructive, is extremely dangerous. Recently a 12-year-old girl DIED during her very first mountain biking lesson! Another became quadriplegic at 13! Serious accidents and even deaths are commonplace. Truth be told, mountain bikers want to introduce kids to mountain biking because (1) they want more people to help them lobby to open our precious natural areas to mountain biking and (2) children are too naive to understand and object to this activity. For 600+ examples of serious accidents and deaths caused by mountain biking, see

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: . It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s good about THAT?

    For more information: .

    • you are writing this via a fossil fuel consuming medium… in fact, the data centers that hosted your thoughts is among the fastest growing uses of resources in the world. If you would like to talk “rough treatment of nature”? The hypocrisy that you display should be considered before going full elitist about the environment.