MPHS mtb club wraps up first season
October 27, 2016
We may be known as the mountain bike capital, but for the Middle Park High School (MPHS) mountain bike club, competitive racing was a new experience this year. The club began racing in the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League.
There are two conferences: north and south totaling 68 teams throughout the state and two from other states. The competitors consist of front-range teams, teams from other parts of Colorado, a Wyoming team, and a team from New Mexico. There were five races throughout the season with state championships taking place on Sunday, October 23 in Eagle. With the popularity of mountain biking in Colorado, it is tough for a first-year team to jump into a competitive league such as this. The team had one local race the weekend of September 24-25 at Granby Ranch that saw almost 900 competitors.
Team mom Kelly Howard stressed the importance of support for a new team in a competitive world like mountain biking. Howard said she had to find a balance of being supportive; making sure the kids had fun, and not making it overly competitive.
Howard's daughter, Darby was the only girl from the MPHS mountain bike club that competed in the races. Darby said she did pretty well in the meets and usually finished in the middle of the pack. She said the team gained skills by supporting each other at team practices, especially when it came to tough hill climbs. Darby, a junior, said the team usually practiced three times per week, and usually everyone showed up. Darby has been around mountain biking her whole life. Kelly also races recreationally and said the whole family enjoys mountain biking.
The MPHS team consists of ten students. The races are cross-country singletrack. They involve everything from hill climbs, to flat land pedaling, to downhill sections.
Sophomore Aaron Sanders said he had a good season as well. Sanders just started racing this year (though he has been riding his whole life) with the Epic Singletrack series and then went on to join the MPHS mountain bike club.
The team usually practices at Granby Ranch, but the extensive trail system in Grand County allows for plenty of opportunity for experience. Sanders' favorite trail system is the Idlewild trails. His weapon of choice is a Cannondale Trigger.
Sanders said he usually placed in the top 40 out of 100 or more in each race. He experienced some tough luck in the states championships with a broken chain, and incurred a five-minute penalty for asking for help, but he was happy with his performance nonetheless. Sanders said that for a first-year team, the MPHS mountain bike club's season went very well.
The league is split into different divisions by gender and grade into JV and Varsity. Each division does a certain number of laps on the course. Sanders said the course would usually be about six miles per lap.