Written by: The Editors
California’s two high school mountain bike leagues have started the season this month with the SoCal league holding its first race March 1 in Monterey and the NoCal season starting March 8 at Temecula.
Both races drew enthusiastic crowds who kept the cowbells and cheers going all day.
100 students representing 14 school and regional composite teams attended the SoCal race, held at the popular Vail Lake Mountain Resort.
With plenty of talent out on the course, racing was often close. Winners in the Varsity age group were Garrett Garcia (Independent), who broke clear from a group of three on the last lap. Tina Row rode solo to claim maximum points in the Varsity Girls category.
The Junior Varsity Boys field was dominated by Quint Berkemeier (Rim High), who last year placed second in the southern California championships. Nicolas Avallaneda (Independent) came back strongly from a mechanical on lap one and looks like another rider to watch. Amanda Duarte (Independent) rode solo to win the JV Girls race.
The SoCal calendar:
March 8, Vail Lake Challenge, Vail Lake Resort, Temecula, California
March 22, Warner Ranch Roundup, Warner Springs, California
April 5, Arrowhead Challenge, Lake Arrowhead, California
May 17, Cow Pie Invitational, Santa Ynez, California
The SoCal riders will have to wait until the high school state championships on May 17 for the opportunity to test themselves against the best of NorCal high school mountain biking.
National team member John Bennett (El Cerrito), was one of the stars of a gray, rainy day at Fort Ord, Monterey, on which 415 riders entered the first round of the NorCal series, a 15 percent increase over the 360 that started last year’s series.
Predictably, Bennett won his race, but Christian Fernandez (Los Gatos) chased back from a mid-race crash to claim second place 1:18 back. With two of the race’s fastest lap times, Fernandez gave the impression that he could have given Bennett a tough battle.
The NorCal calendar:
March 1, Central Coast Invitational, East Garrison at Fort Ord, Monterey, California
March 15, Granite Bay, Folsom Lake, California
April 5, Mountain Goat Challenge, Pilarcitos Canyon at Fort Ord, California
April 26, Brown’s Ravine Invitational, El Dorado Hills, California
May 17, State Championship, Boggs Mountain, Cobb, California