The first-ever Colorado High School mountain bike season champions were crowned Sunday after an unseasonably warm and sunny Halloween in Eastern Colorado.
The season finale saw 150 competitors — the most of the four-race 2010 series — riding a fast and technical course through ponderosa pine and open meadows at the Peaceful Valley Scout Camp in Elbert, Colorado. The race was the fourth and final event of the league’s inaugural season, which saw about 190 individual students race at least once.
Skyler Trujillo of the Ft. Collins Composite team won all four of the boys varsity events and the overall series. In addition to the high school league Trujillo races in non-scholastic events at national and international level, including the world mountain bike championships in Quebec this fall.
But Trujillo said the high school races are more relaxed and fun.
“At the big races, there are like four riders and a mechanic, and we can’t really joke around. Here, I have a group of 12 teammates to hang out with and we can joke around on the start line and have fun,” he said.
Trujillo celebrated the Halloween race with warrior stripes on his face. His varsity competitors included one rider in lederhosen and another wrapped in course tape.
Trujillo is a high school senior and only regrets that he could race just one season in the high school league.
“I wish I could be here in two or three years when it really explodes,” he said.
Lindsay Dye of Broomfield, racing as an independent, wrapped up the varsity girls title with a third place at the finale. Dye is in her second year as a mountain bike racer; she also competes in track in the spring, mostly as training for biking, she said.
Dye, who competes as an independent rider but trained with the Boulder High School team, thanked Boulder coach Ben Boyer for his help during the season.
“I was adopted by Boulder High,” Dye said, “Unfortunately my points don’t go to them.”
Sunday’s girls varsity race was won by Vail Valley Composite’s Heidi Kloser by a large margin.
Kloser, 18, is a moguls competitor on the U.S. Ski Team and is trying out mountain bike racing again this season after a few years away from the sport. Her brother Christian, a Nordic ski racer on the U.S. Ski Team, won all four of the boy’s junior varsity races and the overall.
Their father, Mike Kloser, called the high school league “awesome.” He said, “The level of competition is great; this is a really good development program, a great way to introduce a lot of kids to the sport.”
Isaac Stackonis of Salida High School won the sophomore boys race Sunday and the overall title in that category.
Stackonis has raced mountain bikes before, but when the high school league started he was surprised to find out how many of his schoolmates were into mountain biking.
“It was great to see so many kids who love the sport, and I really like the environment and the culture” at the league races, he said.
“Everyone is super stoked to ride and no one is cocky,” he said.
Boulder High School won the season overall team title. The team has 30 members, 28 of whom raced this season.
“What’s great is we had seven kids score points this year,” said coach Ben Boyer, a Boulder High biology teacher. “There is a lot of diversity of talent on the team, from ninth graders who have ridden very little to seniors who have raced a lot.
“Our motto is to develop life-long cyclists. More than anything we want to develop the lifestyle and enthusiasm for riding bikes,” he said.
“The growth of the Colorado League over the past six weeks has been tremendous,” said Kate Rau, Colorado League director, who said the finale had 10 new racers. “I predict close to 300 riders will be here in 2011.”