The next Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race champion might just come from Lake Tahoe, but the first step toward success is getting him or her on a bike.
That's just what the inaugural children's mountain biking summer camp at Connect, Lake Tahoe Community College's Community Education program, aims to do.
The five-day camp that will take place later this month is geared toward beginning mountain bikers. Campers have to own a bike and they have to know how to ride, but they don't have to have any experience on the trails, Community Education Coordinator Megan Waskiewicz said.
"We live in Tahoe and we all love to mountain bike. What better way to introduce the kids to the sport than through an immersion camp like this?" Waskiewicz said.
By Friday, the children might not have graduated to rip it down Toad's Wild Ride, but they will have a solid foundation in bike safety and the basics of mountain bike racing and maintenance, Community Education Program Assistant Jordan Dalton said.
Kent Wattanachinda, owner of WattaBikeShop in Meyers, said he thinks both mountain riding and road riding are on the upswing throughout the South Shore. He said he sees young children in his shop all the time, checking out bikes and getting ready to hit the trails.
"There are 5- and 6-year-olds out there just loving it. It's going in the right direction. We have mega trails out here, some of the best ones in the county. You get tons of kids out riding all the time," Wattanachinda said.
According to Dalton, Connect's camp aims to introduce those children to a sport that they can pursue for years and to start developing their skills so they can ride some of the area's famous singletrack.
"Living in Tahoe, there's so many awesome trails out here. It's good to get kids out there young and it's something they can do for the rest of their life," Dalton said.
The Connect Community Education program was established in July 2011 with a mission to connect the college with the community. Other workshops include kitchen, health and fitness, home and garden, senior, language and culture programs.
Connect also offered a standup paddleboard and a rock climbing camp for children earlier this season, all part of an effort to get young campers active in the outdoors, Waskiewicz said.