Mountain biking added as an option in Cycling merit badge

cycling-1Do your Scouts prefer their bike tires fat instead of thin? Then I’ve got good news.

Beginning today, Cycling merit badge now includes a mountain biking option. That means Scouts can choose between road cycling or mountain biking when earning the Eagle-required badge. (To earn Eagle, Scouts must earn Swimming or Hiking or Cycling.)

The change is to Requirement 7, which now reads “Using the BSA buddy system, complete all of the requirements for ONE of the following options: road biking OR mountain biking.”

Instead of a 50-mile road biking trip that must be completed in eight hours, Scouts who choose the mountain biking option must finish a 22-mile trail ride in six hours.

The change widens the audience for an already-popular merit badge by encouraging Scouts who prefer riding the trails on a mountain bike to riding the streets on a road bike.

Print this flier (PDF) or follow the jump for the complete requirements for 7b, the Mountain Biking option. 

Cycling merit badge mountain biking option

7. Using the BSA buddy system, complete all of the requirements for ONE of the following options: road biking OR mountain biking.

b. Mountain Biking

(1) Take a trail ride with your counselor and demonstrate the following:

(a) Properly mount, pedal, and brake, including emergency stops.

(b) Show shifting skills as applicable to climbs and obstacles.

(c) Show proper trail etiquette to hikers and other cyclists, including when to yield the right-of-way.

(d) Show proper technique for riding up and down hills.

(e) Demonstrate how to correctly cross an obstacle by either going over the obstacle on your bike or dismounting your bike and crossing over or around the obstacle.

(f) Cross rocks, gravel, and roots properly.

(2) Describe the rules of trail riding, including how to know when a trail is unsuitable for riding.

(3) On trails approved by your counselor, take two rides of 2 miles each, two rides of 5 miles each, and two rides of 8 miles each. You must make a report of the rides taken. List dates for the routes traveled, and interesting things seen.

(4) After fulfilling the previous requirement, lay out on a trail map a 22-mile trip. You may include multiple trail systems, if needed. Stay away from main highways. Using your map, make this ride in six hours.

12 thoughts on “Mountain biking added as an option in Cycling merit badge

  1. Ahhh.. the multiple Scouting MB blogging begins for ya today, Bryan!
    THANKS as all this info will help our merit badge event committee in its planning meeting this coming sunday.. *grins

    For those of you planning MB events, Mr. D, cartoonist KNOT or Not has nice helpful review list here (note the revision date, as of 3/25/2013, as there are SEVERAL older versions of it all over the web:

  2. Really pleased to see this revision. I predict that the Cycling merit badge will soar in popularity.

    My son plans to start on these new requirements beginning this weekend!

  3. Thanks for the heads-up on the new requirement information.

    It would have been a bit less confusing had you mentioned that there were changes to requirements 1,5, & 6 as well, and that requirements 8 & 9 have been deleted.

  4. Great to hear, one of my friends mentioned this was coming at a MTB event a few weeks back. Living in Dallas the roads are just getting way too congested to have inexperienced road riders out there, heck my wife doesn’t want me out on the road bike these days. But, mountain bikes in Dallas, yep, I was a board member of DORBA, , with numerous trails across North Texas, this is a win/win, many Eagle projects have been completed on DORBA trails over the years, we have a 13 mile trail system just a few miles from where the troop meets, and a favorite with President Bush who rides it regularly. I’ll start working with our boys on this with the aim to get the riding done over the cooler months, Dallas is brutal in August and can be a miserable experience for a new rider.

  5. I always allowed scouts to incorporate MTB segments for any requirement ( 10, 15 even 25) , since it wasn’t specifically disallowed. I welcome the trail specific requirments ( etiquette, obstacles, trail condition suitablity, etc) . I agree with one post regarding the popularity of the badge, as here in suburban NYC, road riding is very risky for youth. I believe that is why I have had relatively few scouts acquire this badge. I think the changes will help popularize the badge.

  6. Great change. Would be nice if the six preparatory rides could be mix’n’match between road and mountain. Many of our Scouts and leaders are proficient at and enjoy both.

  7. I like the change, but…
    I wonder how counselors will interpret the change and keep it consistent. There is a BIG difference between riding 22 miles on a gravel road vs. a true single track trail. Most of the rides I lead are on gravel anyway with the old mileage requirements. We use rail-trails like the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Hopefully there won’t be too much confusion on this point.

  8. We used trails under the old requirements anyway – rail trails, paved trails – and never did any rides on open roads. I assume the mountain bike option would not include these types of trails and that these types of trails would still be ok for the road option?

  9. Was there also a change to the 50-mile road ride requirement? I’m looking at the requirements list at . In what is now requirement 7.a.3, the 50-mile ride can be part of an organized bike tour, instead of an individual route the Scout designs himself. I don’t remember participating in a group ride as being an option for the 50-miler before.

    Also, on that page, 7.a.3 says “After completing requirement b for the road biking option”, it’s unclear to me what is the “requirement b” they are referring to. Should that maybe be “After completing requirement 2”, which is the requirement for the 6 rides of lesser length? That would make more sense.

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