By Fred Dreier

NorCal League Heading South
The organizers of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League, America’s largest interscholastic bike racing league at the high school level, have taken their successful model south. On August 4, the NorCal league helped launch the Southern California Interscholastic Cycling League.

Since the launch, SoCal league organizers have been laying the groundwork for future competition — the group has founded an 11-member organizing committee and pinpointed 15 prospective high school teams. The SoCal league hopes to hold the first event of its five-race series in January of 2009.

“So many teachers, potential coaches, parents, and students have contacted us,” said Matt Fritzinger, founder and director of the NorCal league. “Because of the newly formed and enthusiastic founding committee, and receptive bloggers, the word has spread fast.”

Fritzinger will also direct the SoCal league.

The SoCal league already has one established team at Rim of the World high school at Lake Arrowhead, California. Mountain biking is currently offered as a PE class at that school, thanks to the school’s fleet of 50 mountain bikes. The school currently has 25 members on its team, and was planning to join the NorCal league for 2009.

The NorCal league began in 2000 and currently holds eight interscholastic races in Northern California from March to May.

Ross, Rusch Victorious in Arizona
Nat Ross (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Rebecca Rusch (Specialized-Red Bull) took overall solo wins at the Payson Stampede 24-Hour race in Payson, Arizona on September 21. The event was the penultimate race of the USA Cycling Ultra Endurance Calendar.

Ross took the victory just days before being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. The Subaru-Gary Fisher rider out dueled David Harris and Ernesto Marenchin to take his first 24-Hour solo victory of the season.

Rusch, the 2007 world 24-Hour solo champion, took the women’s victory over Lynda Wallenfels. Wallenfels tried to match Rusch’s early fast pace, but succumbed to the desert heat late in the race.

The Payson Stampede was moved back from its traditional May race date to September. The move meant hotter temperatures on course.

The race will host the USA Cycling national 24-Hour championships in 2009.

MTB Worlds to Switzerland in 2011
The town of Champéry in western Switzerland will host the UCI world mountain bike championships in 2011. The UCI announced Champéry as the venue earlier this week.

Mountain biking’s biggest annual race heads to Canberra, Australia for 2009 and Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec in 2010.

The Italian town of Montebelluna will host the marathon cross-country championships in 2011.

Champéry hosted a round of the UCI World Cup in June 2007. Frenchman Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Spaniard Marga Fullana (Massi) won the cross-country races at that event. Frenchwoman Marielle Saner and Finland’s Matti Lehikoinen took the downhill events, with Brian Lopes and Jill Kintner winning the Four Cross.

Wicks, Gould Lead USA Cycling National Calendars
With just one event left on the USA Cycling National cross-country mountain bike calendar — the October 25 Piney Hills Fall Classic in Ruston, Lousiana — Barry Wicks (Kona) and Georgia Gould (Luna) currently lead the series rankings.

Gould, who finished 8th at the Beijing Olympics, leads her Luna teammate Katerina Nash 534 points to 486.

Wicks, winner of the 2008 National Mountain Bike Series short-track overall title, holds a slim margin ahead of Adam Craig (Giant), 359-334.

The USA Cycling National Gravity calendar finished up August 31 with the Whiteface 5K Downhill in Wilmington, New York. That calendar included six events from Colorado’s Mountain States Cup.

Taking the final gravity overall was world Four cross champ Melissa Buhl (KHS), and downhill newcomer Aaron Gwin (Yeti-Foxs).

The National Ultra Endurance Calendar still has one event remaining, the October 25 National Mountain Bike Oktoberfest in Davidson, North Carolina. That race is an eight-hour event.

Currently, Nat Ross (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Pua Sawicki (Team Mata-Ellsworth) lead the standings.

2008 USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Calendars

Cross-Country Rankings

Men

1. Barry Wicks, 359 points
2. Adam Craig, 334
3. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, 328
4. Carl Decker, 318
5. Ryan Trebon, 313


Women
1. Georgia Gould, 534 points
2. Katerin Nash (CZ), 486
3. Kelli Emmett, 312
4. Heather Irmiger, 310
5. Lea Davison, 260

Gravity Rankings

Men

1. Aaron Gwin, 396 points
2. Chris Boice, 325
3. Geritt Beytagh, 220
4. Petr Hanak, 215
5. Rich Houseman, 206

Women
1. Melissa Buhl, 630
2. Rachel Bauer, 455
3. Neven Steinmetz, 350
4. Darian Harvey, 315
5. Jessica Vogt, 299

Ultra Endurance Rankings
Men

1. Nat Ross, 171 points
2. Evan Plews, 130
3. Josh Tostado, 130
4. Jeremiah Bishop, 120
5. Ernesto Marenchin, 98

Women
1. Pua Sawicki, 180 points
2. Rebecca Rusch, 176
3. Carol Clemens, 95
4. Amanda Carey, 92
5. Carey Lowery, 70