Flying Monkeys bike race team disperses; members to ride for high school teams

High school mountain bike riders practice on the Bear Claw Poppy Trail, St. George, Utah, July 30, 2018 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A unique high school sporting concept originated with creation of the Flying Monkeys mountain bike racing program six years ago.

It was a radical departure from mainstream athletic team structures with no tryouts, no benches and no team size limits. Members could earn their spot on the team just by participating.

“If you want to ride and race, all we ask is that you be dedicated,” team director Ron Jensen said of the program in 2014. “If your goal is just to finish your first race, we’ll give you the same amount of support as if you’re riding to stand on top of the podium.”

At its inception in 2012, there were four or five team members. Last year, there were some 200, Jensen said.

Flying Monkeys Ethan Hurst and Jensen Werner participate in a cross-country mountain bike race, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Cristina Werner, St. George News

However, the innovative program may have outgrown its popularity. Beginning this month, the Flying Monkeys team members will now represent six different Washington County high schools.

Teams will be formed at Crimson Cliffs, Desert Hills, Dixie, Hurricane, Pine View and Snow Canyon high schools.

They will compete under the guidelines of the Utah High School Cycling League, operating under the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

Teams at Cedar High and Enterprise also will be created, but will not be part of the new alliance.

Jensen, who will coach the Dixie High School team, said the new structure will follow the program’s initial guidelines including one key principle: inclusiveness.

“On the whole, we will embrace that under this new program” he said.

Jensen sees the new format succeeding because of the “incredible support of the staff and board that have helped behind the scenes. It’s an impressive organization.”

The Flying Monkeys nonprofit organization will continue to exist to provide financial support and leadership guidance, but will not play an active role with the Utah cycling league, nor will it have any athletes racing under its name, according to the former team’s website.

Jensen noted the staff and coaches were aware of the changes last season and began an intensive training program of staff and coaches to prepare for this year’s new format.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm to get started,” Jensen said.

Registration for this season’s teams closed July 24 and the first race of the 2018 season will be Aug. 25 in Kamas.

Looking forward to the change, Jensen said, “It’s bittersweet, but good.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Mike P August 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

    Where are all the Flying Monkey jokes? Man, this is ripe for ’em !

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