Colorado forms high school racing league

Nationwide programme spreading from California

The popular high school mountain bike racing programme begun in California in 2001 is being replicated in Colorado, league officials announced Thursday.

The Colorado High School Cycling League has announced its launch date as October 25th, which it will celebrate with a fundraising road ride led by former mountain bike racer Tom Danielson of the Garmin-Slipstream team. The ride departs at 9am from the Bácaro Venetian Tavern in Boulder, Colorado.

As part of the recently organised National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the Colorado League is based on and supported by a long-running, successful high school mountain biking programme established in California, where mountain bike racing has become a varsity high school sport. Funds from Sunday's ride will seed the early activity of the Colorado League.

Colorado League representatives will distribute information at VeloSwap, Boulder, October 24, and the Boulder Cup USGP Cyclocross race November 1. Other fundraising and awareness-raising events will occur throughout the state from November 2009 through August 2010. The opening race of the first Colorado League season is planned for September 2010.

“This is an exciting step for all of us," said NICA executive director, Matt Fritzinger. "The Colorado League sits on a foundation of many years of work in the state of Colorado, which as we all know has a rich history in the sport of mountain biking, having been the site of the first UCI world championship back in 1990 and again in 2001. Enthusiasm for mountain biking has not missed a beat since then, and it makes great sense that the Colorado community should launch the first NICA League outside California.”

Leagues in Northern and Southern California have been established since 2001 and 2008, respectively, and following the Colorado League launch will be one in Washington state. These four leagues will complete the first tranche of NICA regional chapters.

Durango resident Ned Overend still races

Colorado’s mountain biking culture runs deep throughout the state. Numerous mountain biking legends including former world champions Ned Overend, Travis Brown and Greg Herbold, Mike Kloser, Daryl Price, Bob Roll, multiple Leadville 100 winner Dave Wiens and his wife Susan DeMattei (1996 Atlanta Olympics women's cross country bronze medalist), Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan Kobelski, Jay Henry, Ruthie Matthes, Heather Irmiger, former world cross country champion Alison Dunlap, and Juliana Furtado have either been long-time residents of or started their careers in Colorado.

Heather Irmiger and husband Jeremy Horgan Kobelski on the podium after winning their respective elite cross country races in Colorado

The 2009 USA World Mountain Bike Championship Team was composed of 45 athletes and 15 of them were Coloradans.

Colorado is the home of several legacy race series' from Colorado Springs, Winter Park, Crested Butte, and Summit County. More and more local events crop up every month, ranging from the opening of a new bike park to a new charity ride, and fat tire festivals abound from April through October. Several mountain bike industry innovators are based in Colorado, such as RockShox, Yeti, Maverick, Pearl Izumi, and CatEye. Wiens and DeMattei live and ride in Gunnison with their children.

"It's fantastic, we're all really excited about this," Wiens said. "There's a lot of buzz about this new league all over Colorado. Here in Gunnison, in Denver, for example, and at the Interbike trade show I spoke to bicycle sales reps from across the state who were very excited about it. This is big news for the sport of cycling in Colorado, and it's just what we need. I can see a lot of high schools signing up to it."

The Colorado High School Cycling League is currently recruiting founding board members. Interested individuals should contact League director Kate Rau.

“Finally the long-overdue opportunity for high school cycling has arrived in Colorado," said Gil McCormick of the Wheat Ridge Cyclery outside Boulder. "What is most exciting is this is an expansion of an existing successful model in California with solid leadership in place to help guide and shape the League here.” Wheat Ridge Cyclery is co-owned by former Team 7-Eleven and Coors Light road pro Ron Kiefel.

  • Who: Tom Danielson of the Garmin-Slipstream team
  • What: Fundraising ride to launch the Colorado High School Cycling League
  • Where: Bácaro Venetian Tavern, 921 Pearl Sreett, Boulder, Colorado
  • When: Sunday, 25th October, 8:30am cappuccino, 9am ride departs
  • Why: Fundraiser for the Colorado High School Cycling League

The Colorado High School Cycling League (Colorado League) is a NICA chapter member. The Colorado League manages the full range of NICA League programming, bringing the highest quality racing and programs in the country to the high school riders in the state of Colorado. More information is available at www.coloradomtb.org.

NICA is the National Governing Body for grades 9-12 interscholastic mountain biking. With the support of National Founding Sponsor, Specialized Bicycle Components, and the Easton Sports Development Foundation II, NICA has been established to foster the development of high quality competitive cross-country mountain biking programmes for high school aged athletes.

NICA provides leadership, governance and programme support to promote the development of interscholastic mountain biking leagues throughout the United States.  

For more information, visit www.nationalmtb.org.

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