2012 California State High School Mountain Bike Racing Championships
May 24, 2012
By Phil Beckman, PB Creative
Contact: Matt Gunnell, email@example.com, (818) 415-1133, www.socaldirt.org
Los Olivos, Calif. — Perhaps National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) founder Matt Fritzinger described it best. He had ridden a lap behind one of the races in the afternoon. At the awards ceremony later, he said that two words came to mind during his six-mile reconnaissance: “Rotisserie chicken.”
The 2012 California State High School Mountain Bike Championships were hot, with a relentless sun beating down on an otherwise idyllic SG Dirt Club near Los Olivos. Hydration, shade and sunscreen were in high demand. The conditions taxed the stamina of everyone involved, including the 477 competitors, their coaches and families, the many selfless volunteers and the race organizers themselves. In the interest of health and safety, the races for the last wave of three classes were shortened by one lap each.
But everyone persevered and came through like all cycling champions do. For the fourth time, this event pitted the best riders from the NorCal League against those from the younger SoCal League. If anything was hotter than the weather, it was the racing and the friendly rivalry between the Leagues. For many this passion was driven by the lure of donning a prestigious grizzly bear-themed State Champion jersey, but for most it was about simply being competitive and a part of this inspiring, unique program. Where else would you find a group of teenagers this large gathered in one place to engage in an activity so demanding and requiring so much dedication?
This year’s event was hosted by the SoCal League, and as Executive Director Matt Gunnell described it, “It was fantastic to have almost 500 student-athletes from NorCal and SoCal at the State Championship race. Though the weather was hot and made for a challenging weekend, everybody rallied and remained flexible which allowed a stellar, competitive day of racing. The Dirt Club venue works fantastic for high school mountain biking. It has nearly unlimited camping area, great trails, beautiful vistas of the wine country, and just about the best spectator viewing of any mountain bike race.”
Check the photo captions for the event’s highlights. In the end, the SoCal League captured four individual class championships (to the NorCal League’s seven) and for the first time made a top-three appearance on an overall team podium. Both of these are significant accomplishments and mirror the steady growth of the SoCal League, having been around since 2009 compared to NorCal’s establishment in 2001. NICA itself is on a steep upward arc, with new chapters now operating or about to launch in five additional states. NICA’s unofficial motto is “Coast to coast by 2020,” and at this rate it could be very well be possible.