What’s it like to combine two boys with wild imaginations and the sport of mountain biking? You’ll probably wind up spending a good amount of time thinking of names for your bike squad. The Arbogast family is one of many that ride together in Brevard. The four of them – parents Keith and Charisma, and brothers Jules and Kell – ride together every Sunday.
“Unless it’s raining,” Jules points out. They also ride the Sycamore Cycles beginner ride every Monday in DuPont, led by Nate Brock. However, they don’t go by the name Arbogast when they’re out on the trail. As their team shirts and patches clearly show, the Killer Koalas are cooler than your crew. Its just that simple.
Jules came up with the name, because, as he puts it, “I’m just that random person that comes up with these things. We needed a team name too.”
Kell is on his first real full suspension bike, an extra small Specialized Camber 650b frame with 26” wheels. It’s quite an upgrade for the eight year old, and it even has Industry Nine wheels. Jules, 11, is also on a Specialized Camber, a bike he got just this last year as he outgrew the old one, which is now Kell’s. Their bikes are geared pretty low, and both have 35mm stems so they fit the boys well.
“This bike helps me jump stuff better,” said Kell. “Dad makes us watch a lot of Red Bull, and he said when I get to something to jump to pull up. I also got a Cambro sticker. Dad isn’t a Cambro anymore since he got a Stumpjumper, but he’s still cool.”
Keith was the owner of Sycamore Cycles for a few years, back before Brevard was such a hotspot. He decided to sell it back to its original owner eventually, but in that time he sponsored more than one local trying to get to the races. Charisma is a teacher at the high school, and is actively involved in the Transylvania County Cycling Club.
“I usually lead or sweep the rides, and we always head to DuPont,” said Charisma. DuPont State Recreational Forest has graduated more than one young rider to Pisgah. Its mellower terrain and ease of access gets them ready for more difficult trails.
“This year both Keith and I are going to be involved in the program. It’s a fun way to give back and get these kids outside,” she said. “We teach the kids about bike safety, rider etiquette and basic stuff about their bikes. Mostly, we get them outside for fun. The program isn’t just for kids who can afford bikes, though. If you sign up you can borrow one.”
Jules likes to ride downhill more than climbing. He said he and his dad did the Cranksgiving Enduro in Greenville last year, a popular race held every year around Thanskgiving, which draws a huge crowd and raises money for Paris Mountain State Park.
Both boys know how to lube their chains and how to change a flat. They know how to share the trail too, calling out when riders or horses are nearby, and pulling over and making themselves known.
“Talking to the horses helps,” said Kell. “That way they know you’re human.”
Both boys really like Upper Sycamore trail, although Jules took a nasty spill after meeting a tree not too long ago. But, they try and try again.
“I hope that now that we’re the Killer Koalas, only the eucalyptus trees try to get us,” said Jules. “I think it takes really a long time to digest, so they eat a bunch during the morning to conserve energy. It’s tough being grey.”