The NorCal and SoCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Leagues meet for the first time at the California High School Mountain Bike Championships, presented by Touchstone Climbing and Fitness, at Boggs Mountain in Cobb, California, on Saturday May 17.
“The state championship is the highest attainable accomplishment in high school mountain biking, as with many school level sports, so to me it’s a really big deal that we now have a true representative all-state championship,” said League founder Matt Fritzinger.
The state championships have traditionally been the finale of the NorCal series. This year they will serve the dual function of culminating that series as well as crowning state champions from a field that spans the entire state of California, from Redding in the north, to San Diego in the south.
Up to 30 riders from the SoCal league are expected to travel to Cobb, 30 miles north of Santa Rosa, for this historic race, which may be the first time anywhere in the world when two separate high school mountain biking leagues have competed against each other.
On May 3, the SoCal Interscholastic Cycling League successfully completed its inaugural series of four races, which included more than 100 riders from 14 school teams. The SoCal League was created with the backing of the Easton Sports Development Foundation II.
In a nod to the talent pool that is entering the sport through the high school leagues, USA Cycling, the sport’s national governing body, has determined that the state championships will count as a qualifying race for its national championships.
“I love the competition of racing against 40 other riders of my age,” said junior varsity racer Evan Shorter of Oakmont High School. "Even at Sea Otter you don’t get a field that size, and there are good riders here."
Racing begins at 10 a.m. with the varsity girls. The varsity boys race starts at 1:05 p.m. Race distances range between 12 miles and 24 miles on the six-mile course through pinewood forest, which with much singletrack and many technical sections is the most challenging on the high school racing circuit.
While racing is a significant part of the weekend, there are several other important components in the success of the event. One of these is the socializing that is a hallmark of the high school racing series.
“The state championships takes the NorCal atmosphere to a whole new level," explained varsity rider Will Curtis of San Rafael High School. "Everyone camps, and the party begins the night before the race. I’m really looking forward to that part of it as well. A lot of families go there and it’s a really great atmosphere.”