Students pursue mountain biking passion


Courtesy of Harper Nettles

Sophomore Harper Nettles practicing at Sope Creek Park.

Cate Barton

During COVID-19, teens around the country looked for different hobbies and activities to get themselves through the pandemic. While some picked up baking or basketball, sophomore Neelam Parsons grew his love for mountain biking and looks to start his own team at Midtown.
Mountain biking is a type of off-road cycling racing that typically takes place on rocky, arid or mountainous terrain with specially made mountain bikes. Cross-country running races and competitions are similar in terms of scoring and structure.
“I really like mountain biking, it’s not like any other sport that I’ve tried,” Parsons said. “There is a unique sense I get from it that I couldn’t really find with any other sport.”
Parsons is putting together a mountain biking team at Midtown. If the team is accepted, the teacher sponsor will be AP Language and Composition teacher, Kate Carter. To officially establish them as a team, more paperwork needs to be completed.
Other high schools in Georgia have official mountain biking teams like Etowah, Pope and Woodstock High School.
“A group of kids got really into mountain biking during COVID-19,” Kate Carter said. “Their passion extended to what they could do in neighborhoods and they took to ravines. Then they started trekking to mountains and mountain bike trails for more challenges and thrills. They wanted to add school spirit, so they pulled me into the fold, so they could transition into an official Midtown team.”
Parsons has been recruiting people who may be interested in joining the future team, despite there not being an official team in place yet.
“Even though the team hasn’t been finalized yet I’ve been gathering my friends to join the team,” Parsons said. “I’m also trying to get the word out about the team in the making, so when it’s official it can be more than people I already know.”
Parsons and sophomore Henry Carter have been riding mountain bikes together since seventh grade, so Carter was one of the first to join the team.
“During quarantine my friends and I got really into mountain biking,” Carter said. “It was a great way to hang out while distancing and staying outside. We rode all the time and it was super fun, so when Neelam told me about the mountain biking team I joined. ”
Under Josh Parsons’ coaching, the students who are interested in joining the club have been practicing at Sope Creek Park three times a week and have competed in competitions together.
“In college, some of my friends did mountain biking so one day I tagged along,” Josh Parsons said. “When I rode with them I had a lot of fun. As time went on I became a coach for my former team [Sope Creek Mountain Biking team], and I just transferred over [to the Midtown team].”
Many players have been finding additional ways to practice mountain biking outside of the weekly practices, like Carter.
“I’ve been doing mountain biking for about four years, but I’ve just recently started doing it competitively,” Carter said. “I train a few times a week on trails and ride on a peloton the other days, or as often as I can.”
The team has competed together in a few races. In one of the races Carter placed seventh out of 70 competitors with Parsons following close behind, finishing eighth. Overall the team got first place.
“Our competitions have gone great so far,” Parsons said. “I was excited to see how we competed, especially since most of the school doesn’t even know we exist, so this can bring attention to us.”
Parsons said he hopes the Midtown team will become official soon, so more people will have the opportunity to participate.
“I’m optimistic that the Midtown team will be finalized,” Parsons said. “I’m hoping when the club is available more people will join. It’s really only up from here, we are going to gain more people and hopefully get to practice more, leading us to being a successful [and] official high school team.”