Two races in, Vail’s Sam Brown leads Colorado High School Cycling League
In the Colorado High School Cycling League, it’s better to be fast than consistent.
That’s why local coaches were so happy to see varsity boys racer Sam Brown return to the podium again on Sunday, Sept. 17, when racing resumed in Steamboat Springs following a week of postponement due to smoky conditions. After winning the first race of the season on Aug. 26, Brown was able to retain the overall points lead in the series by finishing in the top three in the race known as “The Showdown in the Boat” on Sunday.
“I think everyone was a little surprised how well the team did in the first race of the season,” said coach Jay Henry. “That was hard to follow up on.”
The Colorado High School Cycling League breaks up mountain bike racers into categories for freshman, sophomores, junior varsity and varsity.
The local mountain biking program is organized and staffed by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, and athletes compete on teams affiliated with the local high school they attend. About 45 local athletes compete in the Colorado High School Cycling League.
“In a series of five races, consistency is huge,” said Henry. “Each race you see the kids getting more comfortable with the race situation and moving up in the results.”
GOAL TO MAKE STATE
It wasn’t just Brown helping his team on Sunday — all categories of racers have a chance to score points for their squad.
Some standouts were Isabella Sargent taking third for the junior varsity girls, Eli Smith taking fifth for the junior varsity boys, Aidan Duffy taking fifth for the freshman boys, and there were three freshman girls in the top 10, with Bayli McSpadden winning, Lilo Andrade taking sixth and Harley Blevins taking seventh.
“We’re getting a lot of good races from kids who are just starting and from some of the younger kids, so they’re contributing to team points,” Henry said. I think in general the performance of everyone is encouraging.”
A big goal for the local teams are to ride well enough over the course of the four-race season to qualify for the fifth and final race of the season, the state championships, which are held in Eagle in October.
“I think we definitely focus on that state championship race, being our home race,” said Henry. We know we’re lucky to have it here.”
Henry expects the depth of the local team to continue to be a contributing factor to its success in the races to come.
“For the team points competition, just having a lot of riders show up week in and week out helps,” Henry said. “If someone has a bad race one week, there’s probably four or five more kids in their division who can step it up.”
While the racers are serious and coaches are watching the team points closely, the goal of the local squad matches the goal of the league as a whole — show kids how fun mountain biking can be.
“We definitely are competitive and we’re serious, but our main goal as a team is to just enjoy the whole experience,” Henry said. “But it’s amazing, without really having to drive home the competitive point, a lot of kids end up being pretty competitive just from their own motivation.”
Colorado High School Cycling League racing continues Sunday, Sept. 23, in Gramby before heading to Nathrop on Oct. 8. The state championship race is scheduled for Oct. 22 on the Haymaker Trail in Eagle.