NorCal Racing League 4: A day at the beach

Last race before the state championships

Round 4 of the five-event NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing Series took place in Granite Beach at Folsom Lake, California on Sunday, April 26.

Three hundred sixty high school mountain bikers from 34 schools traveled from across northern California to compete.

John Bennett (El Cerrito) and Shayna Powless (Independent) repeated their Round Three results with clear wins in the varsity categories, while freshmen Bryan Duke (Salinas) and Ruth Winder (Independent) continued their good form, also repeating Round Three wins in the junior varsity division one. Newcomer Scott Kolofer (Independent) won the race in junior varsity Division 2.

"It was great to see the riders and spectators enjoy the start and finish on the expansive Granite Beach -- it made for a dramatic conclusion to a race that included miles of fast and winding single track," said the League founder and director Matt Fritzinger. "Like any race some riders competed for top placing, while others overcame great obstacles to complete their first ever.  

"And with the warm sun and blue skies it was a perfect day for the beach going, I could not help thinking that this day will be long remembered by all the League families,” he added.

The Course

The six-mile course comprised a reverse flow of the track used for round two of the series. This presented a fresh challenge that included several rocky sections and a lot of single-track.

“I liked riding it in the reverse direction, with the technical rocky uphills, the course was really fun,” said varsity girls’ winner Shayna Powless. A mixture of long gradual climbs and short steep sections—both up and down—demanded both technical skills as well as strength.

“You had to navigate through some big rocks and watch your pedals,” said Bryan Duke, winner of the Junior Varsity Division I.

Team Talk

The Division 1 teams are locked in close competition. The Drake Pirates -- with 15,473 points -- slightly increased their lead by showing a great depth of talent in the team. Although they took no race wins on Round 4, success was assured with Alissa Carr and Carlea Winkler finishing sixth and seventh in the Sophomore girls, and Mackinzie Stanley sixth in the Freshman girls, to back up the team’s top five results. The San Rafael Bulldogs maintains second place with 15,290 points, and Nevada Union Miners held third with 15,169.

In Division 2, an outstanding weekend for San Marin saw them surge into the lead. Herculaas Botha took second in the Freshman Boys, while Elisma Botha was fourth in the Junior Varsity Girls. Justin Ayala was fifth in the JV Boys, while Lauren Mcquinn took sixth in the Varsity Girls race.

This strong showing put the San Marin team onto 7842 points, with some breathing room ahead of Marin Catholic MTB Club on 7686, which is still uncomfortably close to Monterey Bay with 7667.  

Going into the final, the teams’ competition is still nail-bitingly close with the outcome subject to many different influences and still very uncertain. Unlike in the individual series, in the team series all races count.

The state championships, at Boggs Mountain, Cobb, California, May 17, will be an historic event, bringing together high school mountain bikers from the NorCal and SoCal Leagues.

For more information, visit www.norcalmtb.org.

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