EAGLE — The local high school mountain biking teams continued their dominance on Sunday, Oct. 7, with another undefeated performance, sweeping the top spots in their conference.
The Colorado High School Cycling League brings together teams from across the state every other weekend each fall to take on mountain biking courses in locations like Frisco, Steamboat and Granby. This year, the conference championships were held in Eagle on the Haymaker Course, which has been used to host state championships in years past.
The local teams are part of the North Conference, which competed on Sunday following the South Conference championships on Saturday. The Battle Mountain team won the Division 2 spot, with Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and Eagle Valley taking the top two spots, respectively, in Division 3.
“We think of ourselves as one team, that’s our overall goal and our philosophy,” said head coach Miles Gentry. “We push each other as one big group, and I think it contributes to the kids working hard.”
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
The team has been divided into two squads in years past, and this year enough athletes joined the program to break it up into three teams. High Schools that have more than five kids participating must form their own team, rather than joining up with another school.
In every race of the season, Battle Mountain and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy won their divisions, with Eagle Valley finishing second behind VSSA. It’s an undefeated record in the eyes of Gentry and program director Dan Weiland.
“It’s hard to script it any better,” Weiland said on Sunday. “In order to win every race in each division it takes really good athletes but it also takes a little luck, too. In mountain bike races you can get flat tires and break chains, and none of that happened.”
Weiland said bringing on Gentry as head coach was a great move for the team, as Gentry found a way to bring the repetitive style of interval training to the program and still make it fun for the athletes.
“He brought more intensity to the training sessions, which often times I’m scared to do, as I don’t want to turn kids away,” Weiland said. “But this group of kids seemed to thrive on that, so it’s working out.”
THE FUN FACTOR
Conference champion Harley Blevins, a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School, attributed her strong results to the fact that she was having fun.
“This season I had a blast, it was a challenge but it was fun,” she said. “Last year we were mostly doing rides at quicker paces and recovery paces, but we did intervals this year and it definitely helped.”
The repetitive intervals took an approach to mountain biking that high school athletes may recognize from other sports.
“It was practice makes perfect,” Blevins said. “We practiced (on the Haymaker course) a lot which also helped.”
The Haymaker course in Eagle is a regular fixture in the Colorado High School Cycling League, but in years past the local team has not had the dominant performances that you might expect from the home team.
This year, that was not the case.
“This was the best I’ve ever seen us race here,” Weiland said. “We’ve got two more weeks to push into state, so hopefully we’ll keep it up.”
The season wraps up with state championships in Durango on Sunday, Oct. 21.