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High School MTB League a Decade Old

The NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Series has more than 500 racers lining up for the 2010 season; Colorado league is next.

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By Singletrack.com

The start freshman boys at the 2009 California State Championships. Photo courtesy NICA
The freshman boys start at the 2009 California State Championships. Photo courtesy NICA

The NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Series is already one race into the 2010 season, the league’s tenth.

More than 500 high school mountain bikers from 40 schools across Northern California are expected to take part in the five-race season.

“As expected, more than 530 riders have signed up for this series already, and we may get close to 600 by the time registration closes,” said Vanessa Hauswald, the incoming executive director of the league. “Now that we’ve grown beyond 500 riders, our venues and infrastructure are bursting at the seams. We are looking at options to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers and next year we will implement some changes.”

COLORADO CYCLEFEST
The Colorado CycleFest is a weekend of festivities that include a ride with Dave Wiens and Susan DeMattei in support of the Colorado High School Cycling League. Proceeds will go to the formation of the league. Work is underway for a June coaches conference (Leader’s Summit), summer rider camps, and a four-race high school only series in September and October.
CYCLEFEST
May 1
CycleFest Dinner and Silent Auction with Dave Wiens and Susan DeMattei
Palettes Restaurant at the Denver Art Museum
May 2
CycleFest Road Ride with Dave Weins and Susan DeMattei – Lunch with Fabio Flagiello.
www.coloradomtb.org

That participation is a 20 percent jump over last year’s membership, Hauswald said. As the season kicks off, Santa Cruz Bicycles comes on board as a silver level sponsor of the NorCal League, an indicator of the continually growing recognition that High School cycling is gaining in the cycling industry.

Will Curtis, the top-ranked returning varsity rider out of San Rafael High School, said that in the four years he’s raced in the NorCal League each year has topped the last. And so have his seasons.

“I am confident of my form going into the series, but at the end of the day I am just hoping to perform to the best of my ability at every race,” Curtis said. “If that is good enough to win, that would be awesome. If not, I can be happy knowing that I gave it all I have.”

The 2010 series opener was held at Fort Ord in Monterey on March 7. The series final and state championship race will be held in Grass Valley, a stone’s throw from the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California that same day in Nevada City.

In 2009 the Drake High School team won both series and state championships titles. Coach Paul Chourre said he is looking forward to another year, but with his team going from strength to strength he remains realistic.

“Having graduated only three members of the 2009 squad, and picked up a record 23 new racers for a total of 49 this year, I would think that we are in good shape, but repeating as state champs is a very difficult task given the caliber of athletes that the league is producing,” he said.

The NorCal High School Cycling League was founded in 2000, and in 2009 a SoCal League was formed. Also in 2009, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association was launched with the goal of starting similar leagues in Colorado and Washington in the next few years. By 2020, NICA’s vision is to have developed high school mountain biking coast to coast. The league exists by virtue of a range of fundraising activities as well as donors and sponsors including the founding sponsor of the SoCal League, Easton Foundations; the founding national sponsor, Specialized Bicycle Components, SRAM, Trek Bicycles, Clif Bar and Co., Fox Racing Shox, Creation Engine, GU Sports, Mike’s Bikes, Primal Wear, Santa Cruz Bicycles, and Touchstone Climbing Gyms.