About Appalachian Youth Cycling
Appalachian Youth Cycling, or AYC, has one primary purpose: get kids in the woods on bikes! The coaches and volunteers at AYC have grown to love the sport of mountain biking as a lifelong pursuit that can be enjoyed by riders of any age! Our goal is to introduce all our kids to the sport we love and to help them grow into skilled riders. Some will even become race winning athletes! We host practices, adventure rides, skills clinics and other events throughout the calendar year to work on skills and fitness. Our kids can then participate in various local, state and national race series, including USAC (USA Cycling) and NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association). This provides an exciting opportunity for kids to test themselves against their peers from all over. But what’s the most important thing? Kids in the woods having fun on bikes!
How much does it cost? Actually… wait for it… nothing! At this time, our volunteers and staff do this purely for the love of the sport and the joy of seeing young riders improve. In the spirit of AMBC, which has always been donation driven and volunteer based, we would encourage you to contribute to the larger effort of AMBC by joining as a full member or making a donation. Either of these will give back to the entire organization which provides us access to and maintenance of the AMAZING system of trails we get to use for our races and activities.
How do you get started? Show up to one of our events! Check the calendar below for our next event. We’d love to see you and your youth rider! But… also make sure to check out our minimum requirements.
Interested in helping out? Great! We are always looking for more help from qualified adults who love mountain biking and kids! Check out our volunteering section to find out more.
Want to donate a bike? Oh, yes please! There are lots of kids who would love to enjoy mountain biking but don’t have the means. If you have a bike laying around collecting dust that one of our kids might be able to put to use, let email us to let us know!
Our practices generally adhere to the following format: a short period of a few drills and exercises followed by a ride split up by experience level depending on attendance. We progressively work on skills and techniques ranging from bike-body separation, to braking, cornering and even racing technique. Your child will learn a lot, and become a better, safer and faster rider!
As with all AYC practices, we welcome any rider from any school. As with all of our rides, parents are welcome to ride with us the first time out but will need to complete a background check and Youth Protection Training to continue to ride with our kids. PLEASE consider volunteering! We definitely need the help to fill out our adult:child ratios.
Please see our minimum basic requirements before attending.
2020 and the new developments of 2021 have had a tremendous impact on youth cycling, not only in Tennessee, but across the nation. The lack of organized races and fewer group practices left our athletes without goals to reach for. With the 2021 season upon us, we do not have many “normal” options left, so we like many other cycling clubs, have been forced to take a look at what is best for our athletes and riders. Here is what we are proposing for our riders and racers in 2021:
- All year – MTB focused rides and practices led by our all volunteer staff of coaches. These coaches are doing it for the love of the sport. They are trying to show every kid what they love about cycling. You should expect great local support and some regional exposure too. The good news is there is no team fee, just show up and ride.
- Monthly – Girls only Ride open to youth athletes, female parents, and female kids in Knoxville wanting to get into racing. Also a monthly “Adventure” ride open to all riders – something different from our regular rides & practices, maybe not even on bikes.
More details on these soon.
- Spring/Summer of 2021 – we will fully support the local Wednesday Night Race Series beginning with the May 22nd race at Baker Creek. We will do a pit setup when there is room, providing bottles, coaching, mechanical service and the other things you would expect for race support. This series is great for beginner racers and advanced racers alike. Practices would continue as usual.
NOTE: all racers will need an AYC or school jersey and must pay race entry fees.
- Summer 2021 – we will support USA Cycling High School Nationals. Give the athletes the ability to compete for a national high school title and set themselves up for future racing opportunities.
- Fall of 2021 – We will select 5 races from the Go Nuts or SERC series and fully support them. We will do a pit setup, with bottles, coaching, etc. Practices would continue as usual. a. IF TN NICA announces a schedule of grid start style races, AYC will arrange for a composite team to allow our riders to participate. This will require a group of people (coach(es), parents) who will be required to attend and support all the TN races (per NICA guidelines).
To try to sum up all the details of how to move forward as a youth mountain biker is just about impossible, especially now. All athletes will take a different path. The good news is that this at least lays out some options to give you an idea of what you can expect moving forward.
We will always have beginner groups and strive to make it extremely fun for the kids that don’t want to race. We just need to make sure not to forget about the racers as well. Athletes need goals, a group of peers to race against, and be provided with the tools they need to have a path forward. We have laid out what we think are great options for each athlete and youth club member.
Our plans for 2021 will not lock them in stone for 2022 or after. We must remain fluid and look at all options for the Appalachian Youth Cycling members in the upcoming years.
Feel free to contact any of the AYC Coaches if you have any questions or concerns.
Yes, you’re right, there are some minimum basic requirements…
- Basic minimum fitness
- A Real Mountain Bike in Good Condition
- A Good Helmet
- A Water Bottle or Hydration Pack
- A signed liability waiver
Basic minimum fitness…
We welcome riders of all ages, BUT the basic minimum fitness requirement would be keeping up with our beginner level rider group. This translates to your child keeping up semi-comfortably on an easy paced ride of a minimum of about 4-5 miles (without too much complaining).
Fitness levels will definitely improve over the season! Our primary goal is for kids to learn to engage with riding and the associated fitness as a fun activity that they can enjoy for a lifetime. Participation in racing as a further engagement with the sport is encouraged, but not required.
We want your child to safely enjoy the sport of mountain biking, and we are riding on real mountain bike trails, not just gravel roads or greenways! That means loose dirt, sometimes mud, rocks and roots, steep climbs and descents. To safely enjoy real mountain bike trails, a suitable bike will be in good working order and have the following characteristics:
- At least 2 inch wide tires
- Multiple gears that shift correctly
- Straight wheels with no loose spokes
- Disc brakes (not required, but HIGHLY recommended)
- Front suspension fork (not required, but HIGHLY recommended)
While the above will not guarantee that your child will be safe and happy, proper equipment is an unavoidable and very big part of the sport of mountain biking. If for some reason you cannot provide a suitable bike, please speak to one of our staff. We would love to help you find something suitable.
Bumps scrapes and bruises are common in mountain biking. It’s a rough and tumble kind of sport. Falls happen on a regular basis just like in sports like skiing or snowboarding. A good helmet is THE most important piece of equipment you can provide your child.
We practice all year long. Even on really hot summer days like we have here in East Tennessee. It’s VERY important that your child consume sufficient water and stay hydrated while riding with us. They should show up to every ride with a FULL water bottle or hydration pack. Bottles should be suitable for a bicycle bottle cage and actually fit on the bike being ridden. Alternatively, a hydration pack should fit well with no interference to normal bicycle movements on the back or hips.
Yes, there’s a waiver. We will need to have your completed and signed waiver on file prior at your child’s first practice. This gives both parties the information needed to ensure everyone knows the risks, has the appropriate contact info and understands what is and is not covered under our insurance policy. If you would like to complete the waiver beforehand, you can either complete it electronically and email it to our staff, or print it out, complete and bring with you to practice.
Other (advisable, but not required) Stuff…
- Bicycle gloves.
- A snack, like a protein bar
- An inner tube appropriate to tires on the bike being ridden
- Cycling specific shoes. Either flat sole “skate” style shoes or MTB specific, or “clip-less” style
- Cycling specific clothing. Athletic “wicking” materials. Shorts that do not droop.
If you love bikes and the experience of mountain biking and wanna help us share that with kids of all ages and abilities, we would love to have you! We have 3 main requirements for every volunteer without exception:
- A clear FBI background check
- Youth Protection Training
- Completed intake form
The Background Check…
Every volunteer must have a clear background check. We will conduct this using your cell phone number. Please email your name and cell phone number to our staff with the subject line “Background check”.
Youth Protection Training…
Mandatory Youth Protection Training is a series of videos and instructional videos with comprehension quizzes provided by the Boy Scouts of America. Every volunteer MUST complete Youth Protection Training prior to your second activity with us (involving kids). This includes parents who wish to participate with their own children. Please proceed as follows:
- Create an account on the BSA website: https://my.scouting.org/
- Click on the link for Youth Protection Training and take the full course: https://training.scouting.org/learning-plans/1179
- When you’ve completed YPT, you will be emailed a certificate. Email a copy of your certificate image or PDF to our staff. We will file it for our records.
The Intake Form…
We just need to collect some basic information about your interest and availability. Filling out our intake form will add your information to our database for reference.