April 1, 2011
The Miller School Endurance Team has received national attention from organizations such as USA Cycling. Now the area high school students are working to put cycling on the map for all high schools in the Commonwealth.
The squad participated in their first Virginia High School Mountain Bike Race series last week. The workout does not just have students exercising their legs, it also forces students to use their brains.
"We created what I think is the world's premier endurance athletics program for cycling," said Peter Hufnagel, the team coach. The bikers are forced to deal with harsh obstacles and tough terrain.
"We are in the process of creating an infrastructure that will help cycling grow in general, but especially in Virginia," said Hufnagel. The battle is easier in Charlottesville, where professional cyclists are on hand to lend pedal power to young riders.
"I just feel some sort of accomplishment every time I finished a ride or came back from a run," said Will Chambers. Students say riding also helps to relieve stress.
"Whenever I mountain bike, I forget about homework or the stress I had that day," said Ursala Nelson. However, for this program the classroom is never far away.
"It just fits into the mission of the Miller School, we teach students to be athletes, and we also believe in teaching students, teaching them to work with their hands," said Hufnagel. Hufnagel teaches his students how to build the bikes they ride.
"Pretty much every single bike in the row here, a student has built up from scratch," said Hufnagel. "Not many people have the opportunity to create your own bike and ride it."
Hufnagel says the program goes beyond the Virginia series. Some of his students are already racing in USA Cycling events and competing at a national level.