High school mountain bike teams to compete at home | SteamboatToday.com

High school mountain bike teams to compete at home

Gunnar Gilbertson races down a track at regionals. Steamboat mountain bikers won't be traveling during the 2020 season, but rather competing virtually at home.
Blair Seymour/courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — High school mountain biking is still happening this fall. However, teams won’t travel for competitions. Instead, they’ll compete at home in challenges organized by Colorado High School Cycling League that will give bikers a chance to compete while complying with local and statewide health guidelines.

Steamboat Springs High School head coach Blair Seymour expects the mountain bike season will be appealing to students who no longer are able to participate in their typical fall sport. 

“Now that CHSAA has changed their whole schedule, it potentially gives kids the opportunity to (ride) if they couldn’t before because it conflicted with another sport. They can join in and have in-person training. That’s the one beautiful thing, we will still have in-person training as a team, with precautions. We will still have that team comradery.”

This year, after much consideration, the Executive Director of Colorado High School Cycling League Kate Rau announced that teams won’t travel at all this year. Instead, she and her staff are issuing five weeks of challenges. Athletes will track their activity and submit it for it to be ranked and scored.

“We’re trying our best to replicate the season and provide an opportunity for kids to stay motivated and for our coaches to have something to focus on rather than just going out and riding,” said Rau. “That can only go so far.”

Rau named the series of challenges and the season, “Singletrack Solidarity.”

“(It means) to be united around the outdoors, teamwork, personal development through sport,” she said. “And having teams and individuals still come together (despite) COVID and those restrictions.”

Competitions usually mean traveling as a team to one of a small handful of competitions around the state to compete with hundreds of other mountain bikers from the same region. That calls for a lot of travel across the state. That format simply wasn’t feasible with gathering limits and different guidelines throughout different counties. 

So, throughout the season, every other week will be a challenge week, requiring riders to complete a certain amount of mileage, elevation gain or showcase their skills. 

The other weeks will feature fun activities such as photo and video contests and a new logo contest.

Seymour has been coaching mountain biking all summer and suspects practices will look similar, with masks on while the team is gathering as a group. If a lot of athletes sign up for mountain biking, the team will divide into smaller groups to meet with coaches. 

Once bikers hit the trail, they can ditch the mask, but must put it back on if they stop on the side of a trail or meet up with someone. 

The hardest part of the season will probably be seeing the seniors not have a normal season. 

The cycling league is trying to make the season as special for seniors as possible. Every senior who has participated the past three years and partakes in at least one challenge this year will receive a legacy belt buckle.

“It just makes me sad for them that they don’t have their right of passage send-off that they’re used to,” said Seymour.  “We’ll make it as fun as we can to make those special memories.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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