‘Jumping Kings’ start a biking movement
By Audrey Posten
Seventh graders Dylan Corlett, Hunter Miller, Garret Keehner and Michael Egan have been friends since they were little. The boys do a lot of things together—everything from wrestling and football to a shared love of the Dallas Cowboys.
They also love biking and have even formed their own group, the “Jumping Kings.” The name came from another schoolmate, and, according to Hunter, it just stuck.
Plus, Garret said, “We couldn’t find anything better.”
The group can often be seen riding around Monona, meeting up at their favorite spots around town, like the carwash, to ride on curbs or ramps.
However, this summer, with the guys armed with new pro bikes, those old haunts lost some of their appeal.
“We all got tired of ramps,” Hunter explained. “We wanted to take the next step.”
That next step involved talking to the Monona City Council about developing a bike course. The group did so a month and a half ago, on their first day of school, armed with plans for what they would like to see constructed.
“We all went to Garret’s grandma’s and drew what we wanted,” Hunter said of the plan development process.
“Then we put it all together,” Dylan added.
The “Jumping Kings” also took a trip to Oelwein to check out that city’s bike course, which is a dirt track comparable to what they want to see built. After that trip, Dylan said the group really knew what they wanted.
The proposed Monona course would include a 150 foot by 225 foot area with dirt mounds and banks that can be used for ramps and jumps. The boys said there will be normal, single mounds, as well as table tops, which will be flat on top and slant down the sides. There will also be step ups, where a biker uses a little ramp to ramp up onto a bigger one.
Garret said there will be both advanced and beginner courses. The table tops will be more ideal for kids who are just learning how to ride on dirt.
“You can’t just get on a bike and go and jump,” Dylan explained. “If you land wrong, you can get just as hurt as you would on cement.”
The “Jumping Kings” said they will be willing to help those younger kids, as well as older kids or adults, learn how to best utilize the course. In fact, the boys said they already have a young entourage that follows them around town, trying to replicate the things they do on their bikes.
“The little kids want to ride, but sometimes we go fast at the ramps and they get scared to do it,” Hunter said. “So we encourage them and then they bring their friends. We’re starting a movement around town.”
While the dirt will be safer for riders, Garret said the group also decided against cement because that would be more expensive. With dirt, construction will mostly consist of manpower and fuel for the equipment. Cement would also leave the course set in stone.
“Since it’s dirt, every spring we can redo it to make it better,” Michael said of the course.
The first time the “Jumping Kings” presented their plan to the council, the boys said they were all nervous.
“Most kids wouldn’t have enough guts to do it,” Hunter said. “I barely had enough guts the first time.”
“I was nervous to get up there,” Garret said, echoing Hunter’s sentiments, “but, when we went back, it got easier.”
Dylan admitted he didn’t expect the plan to progress so far, at least not this fast.
And the plan is really progressing. After the group’s second presentation at the last Monona City Council meeting, the council unanimously moved forward with the proposal, agreeing to lay out the course adjacent to the Monona Aquatic Center.
The “Jumping Kings” also have planning and excavation volunteers at the ready.
Garret said they would like to see much of the groundwork done before it snows, then the dirt has time to settle over the winter. Even though cooler weather is fast approaching, he doesn’t think time will be a big issue.
“It should take around two weeks to build,” he said. “It took Oelwein around a month and they didn’t work on it every day.”