Saturday, May 18, 2024

Icicle Bicycle Club enters spring season with focus

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LEAVENWORTH – Icicle Bicycle Club kicked off the season with its first race in Spokane on Apr. 14. This year, the team is ramping up its training with a greater focus on racing. 

“They did great and had great attitudes. The league has 717 registered riders, so the races are big, and they're just a lot of energy. So, it's hard not to have a good time when you come there and get to be part of all that,” said Head Coach Mike Bedard.

The club participates in the Washington Student Cycling League, which has five cross-country mountain bike races in the spring and two races in the fall.

The team faced some technical challenges for its first weekend, such as a broken bike chain for one of its top riders, and scheduling conflicts for others. However, riders did walk away with a few top 10 finishes, such as Ben Todd, who placed tenth out of over sixty high school beginner boys, and Cedar Tremberth who placed tenth out of over fifty 6th grade boys. Other notable finishes also included Forest Saugen placing twelfth of over sixty 7th grade boys, and Lane Bedard placing sixteenth of over fifty 8th grade boys.

“Everyone was really nice. Like, when you pass someone, they'll say nice job, they'll congratulate you as you're both racing,” said Saugen, a first-year racer. 

Icicle Bicycle was founded in 2013 by mountain biker Travis Blue as a way for middle and high school students to build a foundational passion for cycling. The club started with 14 students and quickly grew up to 40 through last year. 

“Every year there's new kids that come in and just get excited about how much they love biking. It's just a great community. It brings people together who love biking around here,” said Coach Courtney Feeney.

While the club has always competed in WSCL, it has taken a more relaxed, recreational approach to practices in the past. This was due both in part to coaching styles, as well as the sheer number of students the coaches were overseeing, according to Feeney.

However, with some students graduating and others moving on to other sports, this year's team has about 18 riders, allowing the coaches to hone in on how to help them achieve their goals. Additionally, Bedard’s coaching style has focused on structured training and using races to track both personal and riding progression.

“It puts them in a different environment that kind of pushes them…We've seen that happen over and over with kids, where after that first race all of a sudden they're just more confident, and they have a different idea of what this is about. Whether they're fast or slow, doesn't really matter. It's just that environment that is really beneficial,” said Bedard.

The practices focus on drills, strength training, long rides to help build endurance for the races. The riders also learn racing tactics such as when and how to pass other racers.

“I like the racing aspect personally, and I'm excited this year to see the practices reflect that this year. I think it's really gonna help everybody achieve their goals,” said rider Caroline Menna.

However, Bedard understands that racing isn’t everyone’s end goal and emphasizes that the club still serves a purpose for all riders motivated to bike and improve their skills. This rings true for one rider, Dylan Munly, who prefers to ride jumps over cross-country but appreciates the new training regiment.

“I don't enjoy the racing as much, but I think it's definitely good to have the practices so I can get stronger and go farther,” said Munly.

The team will race again at Liberty Bell High School in Winthrop on Apr. 18. In addition to its Spokane and Winthrop races, the league will also host races in Cle Elum, Gig Harbor and Wenatchee this spring.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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