Over the past three years, CORBA’s trail crew has assisted in several eagle scout projects. Most were from eagle scout candidates who were also involved in the High School Mountain Bike League. After discussions with local Boy Scout Troops and Councils, we put together a suggested set of requirements for a Mountain Biking Merit Badge in 2010. Apparently demand for a mountain biking badge was more widespread than what we saw locally, and the BSA leaders have listened.
During the 1990’s, IMBA and CORBA had approached the BSA about this very issue. At the time mountain biking wasn’t a mainstream sport, and wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now, especially with the younger generations, and the requests and suggestions fell on deaf ears.
How times have changed. Mountain biking has gone mainstream, and been legitimized as an Olympic sport. NICA is making great strives towards establishing the sports as a legitimate high school sport. The time is ripe for things to change.
According to a June 5 post by Scouting Magazine blogger Bryan Wendell, “The trail to Cycling merit badge just got a bit rougher.” He explained: “The BSA has approved a mountain biking option for Cycling, a merit badge mainstay since 1911. So for the first time, Scouts who prefer fat tires instead of thin can earn the badge.”
We’re excited about this news, and commend the BSA for listening to their membership’s needs. Because the Boy Scouts like to keep a relatively steady number of available badges, it was much easier to have a mountain biking option added to the existing cycling merit badge instead of adding a new badge. This makes complete sense, as there is a lot of overlap in the skills, fitness, basic mechanical knowledge and safety aspects in both cycling disciplines.
We also feel that mountain biking has a definite place in the Scouting movement, as many of the scouting principles can be directly applied to the sport. Mountain bikers must be prepared, they need to be kind and exercise good trail etiquette to share trails with other users, the sport encourages health and fitness, and stewardship of our public lands.
CORBA invites any and all boy scouts (and the general public) to our free Skills Clinics, offered on the first Saturday of each month at Malibu Creek State Park. These free clinics will help get new riders the basic skills to get started in mountain biking. IMBA also offers a youth-oriented publication, aimed at teen mountain bikers.