An Athletic Alternative - High Schoolers in West County find a new traditional sport
By Matt Larson
Mountain biking, as a competitive sport, is growing nationwide. Lately, some opportunities have arisen for West County high schoolers to get in on the action.
The Richmond Composite Mountain Bike Team will be entering its third competitive year in mid-January of 2020, and high schoolers throughout West County are invited to join.
El Cerrito High School has a team, which we mentioned earlier this year, but there isn’t yet enough momentum in all of West County’s schools for each to have its own individual team.
To welcome in the entire populace of West County, Head Coach and Founder Doug Streblow decided on Richmond as the hub for the team, and named it Richmond Composite.
The team is comprised of 15-20 high schooled-aged students from Hercules, Rodeo, Richmond, San Pablo, from a variety of high schools, and home schools. And there’s more to it than just riding a bike.
“Instead of just preparing and training to race, we create our events to be more about some of the other elements of cycling and mountain biking,” Doug explained. “Being outside, traveling to new places, overcoming actual and metaphorical obstacles, coming together as a team, planning a trip together—that type of thing.”
At just a few years in, Doug has seen some pretty incredible results with the students who have joined his team, and experience is not a prerequisite.
“All of the kids who are joining our team have no experience with mountain biking,” he said. “They’re kind of braving it on their own, being pioneers, with little or no parental support; so that in and of itself is a really brave step to take.”
Doug’s passion for mountain biking is what led to his development of the Richmond Composite Mountain Biking Team. He participated in his first race six years ago, and was surprised to find himself thinking less about race strategy, and more about how to share this experience with others.
“I was thinking about who wasn’t at the event,” he recalled. “How privileged I was to be out there, taking a day to pay money, put a number on my bike, and race circles around; so I wanted to provide that opportunity for people.”
He especially noticed the lack of diversity, which inspired Doug even further to share mountain biking with our wonderfully diverse West County community.
“In our case, we’re pushing societal norms by introducing a sport that’s predominantly white and male to boys and girls who are mostly not white and male,” he stated.
“Mountain biking gets everyone involved,” Doug continued. “There’s no bench; everyone plays! It’s a really great sport for a young person.”
Regardless of who wants to join the team, Richmond Composite will make it happen with or without your own gear.
“Our team is committed to supporting 100% of the students who want to give it a try,” Doug said. “We have fundraised pretty extensively, and continue to, and have taken on a whole range of sponsorships so that we can support any kid who wants to show up.”
Loaner bikes, race fees, registration fees, jerseys—all a student needs to join the team is the interest and the tenacity to stick with it.
Doug has also found a way to let students keep their loaner bikes after the season ends, he said, via fundraising and sponsorhips. “Potentially, they’re earning their bikes by participating in the team and showing up for practice.”
Richmond Composite is one of 73 other teams in the NorCal High School Cycling League which is governed by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
If you know a high school student who may be a good fit for the Richmond Composite mountain biking team, or would like to help Doug lead the team and help it grow, call or text (510) 974-3154 or visit richmondcomposite.com.
Richmond Composite frequents the Bay Trail, Point Pinole Regional Park, Wildcat and Tilden regional parks, and more.
Doug loves it when people assume they just ride on the sidewalks through town. He always responds saying, “No way! There’s all kinds of cool riding and amazing trails in Richmond.”