Thursday, March 1, 2018

Happy Living in MontCo Features Team on Facebook

On September 7th we had a visitor to practice -- Jeff Chirico. Jeff is a realtor, Emmy award-winning reporter and social media publisher. His "Happy Living in MontCo" Page is his Facebook-based social media platform for all things Montgomery County, specifically the areas of Glenside and Elkins Park.

Jeff stopped by practice to learn more about the team. He caught a glimpse of one of our skills-based practices and conducted some interviews.

We want to thank Jeff for stopping by to learn more about the team. Check out his video below and be sure to LIKE "Happy Living in MontCo" on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

NICA Youth MTB League Thrives in VA - PA too!

PBS recently produced this great overview of youth mountain biking in Virginia. Pennsylvania, having started a few years after Virginia, has a similar story.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Southern Montgomery County Trail Efforts Gearing Up

These are exciting times for trail building in Montgomery County.

For a few years now the PennyPack Rail Trail, part of the Circuit Trail network, has provided local MontCo residents a safe and beautiful recreational opportunity to get outside and enjoy nature. Running from Rockledge Borough to Byberry Road (near Mason's Mill Park) the 5.4 mile trail is in the process of being extended through the rest of MontCo north into Bucks County. As you know, this Rail Trail is home to SoMont Cycling Youth MTB team. It provides a safe haven for our athletes to train, even at dusk, now that we experience less and less light with each passing day.

In other parts of the southern Montgomery County area we are seeing organizations and citizens continuing to pursue Circuit Trail expansion.

In Cheltenham Township, there are numerous trail related efforts, with multiple organizations working together to continue this expansion. At the southern end of Cheltenham Township, along the Tookany Creek, ideas and plans are coming together in support of connecting Tacony Creek trails with Tookany Creek trails. Additionally, Cheltenham's long standing sewer replacement project, which currently has much of the Tookany Creek trail off-limits, is making progress. As the core sewer replacement project comes to a close, residents are beginning to inquire about the future of the Tookany Creek Trail. While the plan is to return the trail back to what it was, it wouldn't take much more to make it better and to make it a certified "Circuit Trail" trail.

Recently, a number of groups interested in trail building did a quick tour of the conditions in and around the Tacony and Tookany Creeks. Members of the Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (Julie Slavet), Pennsylvania Environmental Council (Patrick Starr), Montgomery County Planning Commission (Henry Stroud) and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (Leonard Boranek) toured Tookany Creek, High School Park and a number of other areas along the future, proposed trail. Patrick Starr of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council had this, and more, to say about the future of the Circuit Trail in Cheltenham Township...
"With effective partners like Cheltenham Township, which recently adopted a municipal resolution endorsing 500 miles of Circuit Trails by 2025, the capable MCPC staff, and the indefatigable TTF Watershed Partnership, well, I hate to make predictions, but I think some of it could be built by 2025!"
At the other end of the township, we are seeing some developments with extending the Cresheim Trail up to Cheltenham Township. If you are not familiar with the Creshiem Trail, it connects into Fairmount Park along the Wissahickon Creek and Forbidden Drive, and provides a network of trails from the "Wiss" currently up to Germantown Avenue to just about the front door of the Trolley Car Diner. If you have not experienced the Cresheim Trails starting at Germantown Ave you will not be disappointed when you do finally visit! The plan is to extend the trail over Germantown Ave across an old train bridge and up to Cheltenham Avenue along a power line. From there Cheltenham will pick up the trail for a brief time through the Laverock neighborhood. The trail will then continue to the north up to the Green Ribbon Trail. There will also be an option to go south back toward Glenside eventually back toward the Tookany Creek trail mentioned above, connecting the rock gym to the little league.

In a recent development, Philadelphia City Council member Cindy Bass recently came on board with the existing plan to extend the Creshiem Trail up to Cheltenham Avenue.

To top all of this off, Cheltenham Township's Environmental Advisory Council recently named a sub-committee to build community support for Mobility and Healthy Living goals of the township's sustainability plan. The mission of the Mobility & Healthy Living sub-group is to champion residents' support for programs and activities that promote:
  • safe, secure, pedestrian access to local town centers, transportation hubs and parks (walkability)
  • active, outdoor-oriented lifestyles (running, walking, outdoor sports)
  • natural-area, recreational activities & opportunities (hiking, biking, fishing, access to parks, park features)
  • healthy living programs with local, organic, sustainability-based, environmentally-friendly focus

The sub-committee is meeting this week at Creekside Coop for their first informal meeting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

2017 Race #1 Recap: Blur at Gallaher

On Sunday, September 10 we officially kicked off the 2017 race season. After months of practice, which included skill development, endurance and power/strength training, 21 youth athletes from our team raced in the Blur of Gallaher event in Fair Hill, MD.

Our team had a number of individual accomplishments, most notably 3 podium placements. All of our athletes finished their races and we had a total of 9 TOP 10 finishes. Here is our top 10 summary:
  • Bennett (Springfield Twp) - 8th place of 88 - 8th grade
  • Elsa (Cheltenham Twp) - 3rd place of 23 - 8th grade
  • Henry (Cheltenham Twp) - 7th place of 51 - 6th grade
  • Lucas H (Springfield Twp) - 10th place of 51 - 6th grade
  • Maris (Cheltenham Twp) - 9th place of 23 - 7th grade
  • Megan (Upper Dublin) - 6th place of 15 - 10th grade
  • Miriam (Cheltenham Twp) - 6th place of 16 - 9th grade
  • Oskar (Cheltenham Twp) - 4th place of 68 - 10th grade
  • Junior (Lower Moreland) - 1st place of 88 - 8th grade
We want to also congratulate all of our other races for their performance at the first race of the 2017 season - Casey, Duncan, Ethan, Evan, Lucas G, Luke, Matt, Max, Rigel, Stella, Sam and Tyler.

Our next race is Sunday September 17th at Highland Park in Johnstown PA.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cheltenham Township, SoMont's Founding Township, Announces Resolution in Support of The Circuit Trail Network

Coach Raisch has some news about Cheltenham Township's support for The Circuit Trails. The The following is from Coach Raisch's Facebook page.


I would like to take a moment to thank the Cheltenham Township Board of Commissioners, as well as my fellow Cheltenham Twp Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) members, for supporting township Resolution No. 41-17 - Supporting The Circuit Trail Goals. As a cyclist myself, I greatly understand and appreciate the need to continue to work on the inter-connected trail network that is known as the Circuit Trails. As a kid growing up in Rockledge, I always hoped the Fox Chase-to-Newtown train line would someday be converted into a rail trail. Fast forward 25 years -- now, the rail trail is a thriving feature of that community, and is also training ground for the SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team, which I founded with other members of Cheltenham township.
As an active community member, and EAC member, I believe Cheltenham Township has an important role to play in the growth of the The Circuit Trails.
I would also like to take this time to announce the Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council has approved me in chairing a new EAC sub-committee to work on Mobility & Healthy Living, of which cycling and delivering on the township's support for this resolution will be a priority.
I will be announcing soon some local community meetings and other events to talk about Mobility and Healthy Living in our community. If you are interested in taking part as a leader or contributor to this sub-committee please get in contact with me.

The complete resolution is included below.
Resolution No. 41-17 | Supporting The Curcuit Trail Goals 
July 19, 2017
WHEREAS, the Circuit Trails are a connected system of multi-purpose trails (largely
off-road) located in the nine (9) counties that comprise the Delaware Valley Regional Planning
Commission (DVRPC) region, including Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware,
Mercer, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester Counties; and
WHEREAS, the building of the Circuit Trails is considered to be one of the largest
metropolitan-wide, multi-use trail building efforts in the country and very significant regional
accomplishment; and,
WHEREAS, the DVRPC set a long term regional goal in the Connections 2040 Plan to
complete the Circuit Trails by 2040, and to meet this goal, 180 new miles of Circuit trails need to
be completed by 2025 to reach 500 miles (2/3’s complete); and
WHEREAS, the Circuit Trails provide equitable transportation options for all users and
will connect communities to places of work, places to shop, places to worship, places to play,
places of historic significance, and places to teach our children; and;
WHEREAS, the Circuit Trails Coalition, DVRPC, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford
Watershed Partnership, Inc., the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the New Jersey Department of
Transportation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies have
committed to support and endorse non-motorized options for transportation and recreation; and
WHEREAS, the Circuit Trails will provide safe facilities separated from vehicular traffic
to encourage be bicyclists, walkers, the physically challenged, and other non-motorized users of
all ages to be more active and spend time outdoors, thereby improving their fitness and health;
WHEREAS, when communities in other areas of the United States and abroad provide
for non-motorized transportation options they thrive as places to live and work; and
WHEREAS, the Circuit Trails, by offering both residents and tourists access to natural,
cultural and historical sites, will bring health and economic benefits to counties, municipalities
and businesses in the region such as revenues to local economies, healthcare savings, enhanced
real estate values, and increased activity; and
WHEREAS, 5.4 million people reside in Greater Philadelphia and 85 percent of those
surveyed support building more trails in their counties. Furthermore, 70 percent favor spending
$2 per person in public dollars annually to pay for new connected trails.
WHEREAS, Cheltenham Township is one of 385 municipalities in the DVRPC region
that is part of the Circuit; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the that the Board of Commissioners of
Cheltenham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, hereby endorses the concept of the
nine county region completing 180 miles of Circuit Trails by 2025 in order to achieve 500 miles
of completed Circuit trails and the Circuit Trails passage through Cheltenham Township, and
encourages our neighboring communities to do the same; supports the existing trails along the
alignment of the Circuit Trails being designated as a “Circuit” Trail; and that Circuit guidance
signage be installed with the coordination with this effort.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a certified copy of this Resolution be forwarded to
the Circuit Trails Coalition, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources, and the County of Montgomery.
RESOLVED and adopted this 19th day of July, A.D., 2017, by the Board of
Commissioners of the Township of Cheltenham, County of Montgomery, Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, at its public meeting held at Curtis Hall, 1250 West Church Road, Wyncote,
Pennsylvania, 19095, under my hand and the Seal of the Township of Cheltenham, in the year of
the Township of Cheltenham the one hundred eighteenth.
Bryan T. Havir Township Manager and Secretary
Morton J. Simon, Jr., President

Monday, June 12, 2017

Montgomery County-based Youth Mountain Bike Team to Hold First Practice of 2017 on Thursday, July 6th

The first official practice of the SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team will be held on Thursday July 6, 6pm at Lorimer Park, 183 Moredon Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA.  

SoMont (Southern Montgomery County) Cycling Youth MTB Team is a chartered composite team of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL) and the National Interscholastic Cycling League (NICA).  Co-founders, Wyncote/Cheltenham neighbors and friends, John Raisch and Thuong Nguyen are mountain biking enthusiasts.  Raisch, a Rockledge-native and Abington High School graduate, grew up mountain biking in Lorimer Park while Nguyen, who grew up in Lancaster, became an avid Fairmount Park rider while earning his BA at the University of the Arts. 

 Today, both are also fathers with children developing their own affinity for cycling. During the league’s inaugural season last year, Raisch and Nguyen planned and conducted learning experiences, training, and practices for the youth in Lorimer Park, Baederwood Park, Tookany Creek Parkway, Pennypack Park & Rail Trail, Forbidden Drive, and at the Philly Pumptrack.  Along the way, they picked up new team recruits and supporters. For the 2017 season, the SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team will attract over 20 student-athletes, spanning grades 6 through 10, and draw athletes from public and private schools throughout southern Montgomery County (Cheltenham, Abington, Springfield, Lower Moreland and other areas).  The team is also enthusiastically and financially supported by many community businesses.  

Our athletes impress me every time we’re out on the bikes,” said Nguyen. He further added, ”Last year, their confidence grew off the charts, but, more importantly, they developed meaningful friendships. They’re just a great bunch of kids.”

“We have a fantastic group of dedicated community based sponsors, coaches, student-athletes and families. I am so proud of what we’ve collectively accomplished and I look forward to seeing our team race and represent Southern Montgomery County this season,” remarked Raisch. However, Raisch is boldly looking forward to this new season, “We are actively recruiting more student-athletes, preparing for a time when Abington, Cheltenham, Lower Moreland and other school districts adopt mountain biking as an interscholastic sport. This wonderful sport promotes physical and mental fitness, equality, inclusivity, and an appreciation of the great outdoors. We don’t think it gets much better than that.”

Founded in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) develops interscholastic mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States. NICA provides leadership, services and governance for local leagues to produce quality mountain bike events, and supports every student-athlete in the development of strong body, strong mind and strong character through their efforts on the bike.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL) is a non-profit 501(c)3 NICA Project League. The league was organized in 2014 with the goal to provide fun, safe, and competitive mountain biking opportunities for middle (grades 6-8) & high school students in the Commonwealth.

SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team is a PICL sanctioned composite team, organized in 2016.  It is an independent youth mountain bike team in the Cheltenham, Abington, Rockledge, Lower Moreland and Springfield areas of southern Montgomery County. The goal of SoMont Youth MTB is to introduce boys and girls (6th to 12th grade) to the sport of mountain biking and to help them use the sport as a way of developing a new life-long athletic interest.  The team and coaching philosophy is to use cycling, and the mountain bike itself, as a way-of-thinking to transport our riders to a sense of adventure, exploration, excitement, friendship and good health.

Who: SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team (youth athletes grade 6-12 at start of 2017-18 school year)
When: Thursday July 6, 6pm
Where: Lorimer Park, 183 Moredon Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
* helmet and mountain bike required

For more information please contact:
John Raisch, Director, SoMont Cycling Youth MTB Team

Friday, May 26, 2017

PICL 2016 Highlight Reel

Check out the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Cycling League's 2016 inaugural season highlight reel!