To one degree or another, American mountain biking at the international/Olympic level has been in the doldrums for nearly a decade. The country that “invented” mountain biking has earned one medal since the sport became an Olympic event in 1996.
But the future may look back to 2010 and say that was the year American cross-country racing started to make a comeback. The Marin County-based Whole Athlete Junior and U23 Development Team, which in 2010 sent racers to MTB nationals, the Windham World Cup stop and MTB worlds, will return in 2011.
Announced this year were two additional junior and U23 squads. The first is a new Durango, Colorado-based under-25 mountain bike team. The five-rider team ranges in ages from17 to 24 and will be called Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite presented by Spine Colorado/Durango Orthopedics and Fort Lewis College. The team will compete at local and regional races including USA Cycling’s mountain bike national championships in Sun Valley, Idaho in July.
The second team was announced by the Switzerland-based BMC Bicycles. The company’s U.S.-based development squad will consist of five American U23 racers. In addition to contesting all of the Pro XCT UCI events in the United States and North American World Cups, the team is planning to compete in various regional events.
Even more promising is the success of the NorCal and SoCal high school mountain bike leagues. Those leagues spawned the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which is guiding the start of new leagues in Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and Washington.