A church mountain biking activity to Moab in 1991 began a life-long pursuit of the sport for South Jordan resident Rob Hansen. For the past 23 years, the 40-year-old has been racing more and more in cross country, mountain, road and cyclocross events, including 45 races this year alone. In 2012, he formed the Bingham High mountain biking club that he has been coaching ever since.
“It was the friendship and help of two individuals daring enough to take some kids to Moab that led to my love of the bike,” Hansen said. “When asked to be a coach for the Utah High School Cycling League, I was excited and grateful to share a sport I love and pass on the gift I was given.”
In the first year of the league, Bingham had six riders on its team. By 2013, that number had grown to 15. This season, 21 are on the high school team, while another nine are on a seventh- and eighth-grade development team.
“This is a great witness to the need and desire of students seeking alternatives to traditional sports,” Hansen said.
The team practiced three times a week for two to three hours throughout this past summer at Wasatch Crest, Soldier Hollow, Corner Canyon, Yellow Fork, Round Valley, Snowbasin and Solitude. This fall, riders average four to five hours of practice a week.
Four races have been held this fall and Bingham finds itself in last place with an Oct. 25 event in St. George to close out the season.
A bright spot for the Bingham club has been Rob’s son, Nate Hansen, who rides on the Miners Junior Varsity team, and is currently ranked 23rd in the Division I field out of approximately 100 riders. Hansen, a junior, has been making a name for himself outside of high school competition as well winning his class in the Intermountain Cup Mountain Bike Series. He also placed third in the Midweek Mountain Bike Series, a series co-directed by South Jordan resident Brooke Howard, and ninth overall in the C Flight of the Utah Crit Series.
“Riding has really grown on me and given me goals to work towards,” Nate Hansen said. “I enjoy having the freedom and ability to be out in nature, and staying in shape is an added benefit. Plus, I can do this with my friends and family. If my dad wasn’t coach of the team, he would probably still be a major part of my high school experience.”
Others in the Miners mountain biking club include Howard’s son, Jackson, along with Sam Ballard, Gabe Brown, Kade Campbell, Holden Clarke, Levi Culley, Tanner Evans, Abrielle Fulwider, Bradie Harris, Jaden Holt, Sarah Jenson, Mitchell Kirkham, Chris Knop, Taylor McCombs, Madison McDougal, Zoee Paras, Jimmy Puzey, Pasha Shestakov, Cameron Thomas, Sidney Tupai and Porter Westerlind.
The development team this year consists of Connor Abeyta, Braxton Bearden, Zoe Brown, Terrance Cook, Rachel Hall, Jackson Howard, Brady Hudspeth, Gabe Noorda and Zayden Paras.
“Every student is doing better each race and showing real signs of improvement,” Hansen said. “It amazes me each year when we take students who do not know how to ride a mountain bike and find them at the end of the season reveling in their progress and confidence.”