Scott Cole demonstrates his single-track skills on some trails branching off of the Green Circle Trail near Patch Street. The area is a good place for beginners to practice. / B.C. Kowalski/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
Scott Cole and his daughter, Avita, 9, bike along the Green Circle Trail near Patch Street. The Green Circle Trail is a good family and beginner bike course, Cole said. / B.C. Kowalski/Stevens Point Journal Media
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Scott Cole is something of a local legend when it comes to mountain biking, having started when the sport was in its infancy in the 1980s. His accomplishments include taking fifth in the 2008 24-hour Solo National Championships at Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area in Wausau, racing against pro riders such as Chris Eatough and Joe Tostado.
Cole currently races on the Adventure 212/Specialized mountain bike team based in Stevens Point.
Getting new people into the sport of mountain biking is something Cole is passionate about, and he said a decent bike and a helmet is all one needs to start riding.
How did you first get involved in mountain biking?
Cole first started mountain biking in the late 1980s after injuries hampered his running career.
“It was an activity where I could utilize the endurance I had from running, and my IT band syndrome problem I had didn’t bother me at all,” Cole said. “I got into it so deep it became my next addiction.”
The bikes were much more primitive back then, with steel frames and no suspension forks, and required a high level of skill to maneuver through difficult terrain.
“With the technology we have today, it’s really come a long ways,” Cole said.
What equipment do you need to get started?
Getting started can be as simple as getting a mountain bike and a helmet, Cole said. A good entry-level mountain bike, for the beginner to sport ride, would cost about $500. Low-level competition bikes could cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200, and top-of-the-line bikes can cost thousands.
Riders also will want to invest in a helmet, because the difficult terrain can lead to more falls than in road riding, Cole said. A good helmet can cost anywhere from $30 on up.
“Just a simple fall can cause you to hit your head, and with a helmet you have protection there,” Cole said.
Other items, such as clipless pedals, shoes, cycling shorts and jerseys, and gloves can be added but aren’t necessary to enjoy the sport.
Are there local clubs to join?
Stevens Point Area Senior High has a mountain bike club that’s formed recently, and will be part of a Wisconsin high school mountain bike league that is in the process of being formed.
For adults, the Point Pursuit Mountain Bike Clubin Plover offers a club for those interested in the sport. The club helps maintain trails at Standing Rocks Parkand sponsors events such as Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.
What skills are needed to start mountain biking?
“You have to have an open mind,” Cole said. “You have to kind of just get out and try it and not worry about going fast. Just get through the trails and up the hills.”
Cole said having good cardio conditioning will help because mountain biking can be a strenuous activity.
“Patience is the biggest thing in mountain biking, and having someone help you that knows what they’re doing,” Cole said.
Beginners would do well to start with the Green Circle Trail, which features easy terrain with some entry-level single-track, trails wide enough for one bike only that weave through the woods. Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca offers a good next step, with trails in a variety a skill levels. Standing Rocks Park also offers beginning to more difficult terrain.
Why would you encourage others to try the sport?
“The benefits of mountain biking is to get out into nature and have fun,” Cole said. “With having fun comes fitness. I don’t view it as exercise, where you have to go to a club and stay inside, you can go outside and explore.”
B.C. Kowalski can be reached at 715-345-2251. Follow him on Twitter as @BCreporter.