Words by Lydia Tanner
Every skinny, awkwardly tanned bike geek out there probably harbors some vestige of resentment towards the football heroes of high school yesteryears. Yet if current Northern California trends continue, the reign of the pigskin jock might finally be coming to a close.
For proof, go visit Sir Frances Drake High School, where over sixty bike-wielding teenagers have officially overtaken the school football team in sheer numbers. It seems they're only the beginning.
According to National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) board president, Gary Boulanger, there could be over 600 participants in the opening Norcal High School League Series this Sunday. That means a lot of dirty, tired, kids and a probable 1300 cheering parents descending upon the Monterey area.
Last year's biggest race topped off at 480 participants. Boulanger credits the incredible growth with parent involvement and improved coaching. Though it could also be that 600 kids (and probably many more) just somehow don't want to play football.
NICA has also created some impressive events to help fuel the emerging high school mountain biking phenomenon. For example, the Dirtbowl ride and fundraiser, held on Super bowl Sunday this year, included fun riding for all and boasted such names as Weins, Overend, and Fisher (Gary, that is.) That day 43 riders chose chamois over chili and raised over 10,000 dollars for the program.
So if you too are sensing the rise of a new kind of school hero, come out and support this season's first race. The event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 7th, at 10AM in East Garrison at Ford Ord (near Monterey.) Registration will be open at 8AM the day of, and can be completed online at http://www.norcalmtb.org/index.php. Online registration ends February 26th, and late fees will apply. The course itself should show off some great singletrack in each (roughly) 5mi lap. There is no on-site camping available, but you can still pitch a tent at Marina Beach. If beds are your thing there are also plenty of lodges nearby. The event will be catered by Fork Catering, which boasts simple, healthy, delicious meals, so it is not likely that you will starve. For more information, check out the event at http://www.norcalmtb.org