Bob Dillon has been biking since the 80s and has known for a while that Westchester County has lots of great trails to take advantage of.
So, when the 48-year-old Pleasantville resident heard the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) was bringing a league to New York, he knew he wanted to get involved.
"I wanted there to be a team in Pleasantville," he shared. "I started asking around...and threw my hat in the ring."
Dillon will be taking charge of the village's team as head coach for the inaugural season this spring and said about 15 teens have already expressed interest.
"I'm pretty stoked to get it going," he said, noting practices will begin as soon as the snow melts to get ready for this year's two races.
And while Dillon has yet to find out how much experience (and equipment) the future bikers have, he said a local resource might give his team a good boost.
"We are lucky in Pleasantville because we have Graham Hills [Park] right here," Dillon said. "They can ride right from their homes to Graham Hills."
The team is open to all high school-aged students who maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, a NICA requirement.
"Since it's mountain biking, there's a perception that it's dangerous," Dillon admitted, but he has been taking courses for coaching, as well as the necessary first aid classes.
"We will have to teach them about raining, fitness and nutrition," he noted.
But for this biker, the bit of risk involved in the sport is well worth it.
"It has opened so many doors and I've met so many wonderful people," he said. "My core friends in Westchester are mountain bikers."
And he's hoping to share a bit of that passion with local youths looking for a new hobby.
"It's a lifetime sport," he said. "It's become a great way to stay active and it's very social."
Team members this year will participate in two races—one in April and another in May.
"The races are divided into individual categories," Dillon explained. "Freshman boys are going to going to race freshman boys and sophomore girls are going to race sophomore girls."
The freshman, sophomore, JV and varsity categories will have varying course lengths. Dillon said he thinks the oldest races will be on the course for up to two-and-a-half hours.
And NICA is already planning to expand the season to five races in 2014.
"It's not a significant committment this year," he said.
But as soon as this latest snow melts, Dillon plans to hit up Graham Hills for the first practice.
"I’m pretty excited to share my love of the sport," he said.
Interested in learning more about the team? Email Dillon at pleasantvilleMTB@gmail.com or check out a fundraiser for the NICA New York League tomorrow night:
- Screening of Singletrack High — March 12, 7:30 p.m. at Irvington Towh Hall Theater. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance here.