Cow bells rang furiously as hundreds of young athletes raced in teams from across Washington and Idaho on the trails at Riverside State Park’s Seven Mile area on Sunday.
The Washington Student Cycling League’s third annual Riverside Rumble began at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday in the relative shade of tall ponderosa pines, but heated up as the last batch of competitors kicked up dust along the rough dirt trail at 12:30 p.m.
Athletes and their families set up RVs and tents outside of the mountain bike track on Saturday before the race.
“We have kids that take it very, very serious and we have kids who are just happy to be camping with their friends and riding their bike,” said David Williams, executive director of the league.
The main goal of the event is to just get kids outside, active and having fun on their bikes, said Williams, who estimated a little under 500 young cyclists raced at the park on Sunday.
The Washington Student Cycling League began in 2019 as part of a school league for students between sixth and 12th grades. The league has since transitioned to a community-based cycling league, Williams said. The league, which is coed, has been trying to rebuild its ranks since pre-pandemic when its spring league had nearly 1,000 members.
About 22% of the league are female, Williams said.
“In March 2020 we had 998 riders, and today we have 745,” he said.
Cycling teams from Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Methow Valley, Leavenworth, Ephrata and many others make up the league’s 25 teams.
Representing Spokane County were the Inland Northwest Composite, with a squad of about 70 cyclists, and Spokane Valley Composite, with about 40. Other local teams include the Palouse Composite and Kootenai Composite, both of which were present on Sunday.
“It’s kind of a unique sport,” said Nicole Kuhn, as she watched from the sidelines for her son, a 17-year-old who is on the Inland Northwest team. “All different kinds of kids join.”
Her daughter, now 20, joined the league when it first started, Kuhn said. No other types of team sports appealed to her, but the cycling league did, she said.
“It’s an individual sport, so you have to have a good deal of drive, but you have a team that surrounds you,” said Christopher Sutherland, whose 15-year-old son is on the Yakima Valley Mountain Bike Team. “It’s just a really great community.”