Brimming with confidence
The first day of the Norte Mountain Bike Team can be nerve-racking, even for a capable and confident rider like 11-year-old Flora Wengreen.
“I was kind of nervous,” admits Flora, recalling her first day at Palmer Woods. “I had never been there. I didn’t know my coach or anything. My whole team was boys, and I was the only girl.”
Despite her riding experience — her entire family rides a homemade track they built around their property in Leelanau County — Flora was still a little intimidated. Luckily, her coach was Ryan Schut, who has a way of making his riders — boys and girls — feel welcome, relaxed, and ready to have lots of fun.
“Coach Ryan is very encouraging and enthusiastic,” says Flora. “He’s just fun to be around.”
It didn’t take long for Flora to fit in with her teammates as they explored the trails of Palmer Woods, learning to use their bodies and bikes together as they took on rolling hills and even a few jumps.
“Flora was a little hesitant at first,” says mom Jennifer Wengreen. “She didn’t know if she was good enough. But, I knew that she was, and by the end, she knew that she was, too. I think that’s huge.”
By the end of the program, five weeks later, Flora was brimming with confidence.
“I felt like I was a way better mountain biker after the spring season. I never really did jumps before — I learned how to do those. So now I can get some air. It feels fun and exciting,” she says.
Norte’s Mountain Bike Team fits the Wengreen family’s philosophy of getting the whole family involved in outdoor activities.
“I’m big on sports we can all do together, like snowboarding,” says Jennifer Wengreen. “I’m always looking for things to do with the kids outside.”
Jennifer says Flora’s enthusiasm for mountain biking has rubbed off on her siblings and prompted her to buy new bikes for all the kids this year.
“Norte programs are a great way for kids to get exercise, to learn new skills and build confidence — things they can carry with them lifelong,” she says.
Flora agrees. She has advice for young riders who are experiencing Norte for the first time.
“You might be nervous at first, but you’re going to have fun in the end,” she says. “You’re going to be with really nice people, and your coach will be super encouraging. You’re just going to love it.”
We trust Flora will keep rolling this fall and that many of your young ones will join her. In addition to the fall registration opening next week, we also have registration for More Girls on Bikes clinics open right now.
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