High school youth train for cycling competitions


VALLEY — The Rio Grande Composite Rattlers are one team — eight high school students as competitive riders, four acting administrators-coaches — participating in the 2017 Colorado High School Cycling Association season, which encompasses four active meets from the last week of August until the end of October. The state championship follows. Goals for the future are separate teams in area high schools.

This is not the first year for a San Luis Valley high school-age bicycle racing team, but perhaps the first to have such strong ambitions.  The Rio Grande Composite Rattlers Head Coach Brian Stevenson, an instructor at Monte Vista High School, and Team Director Larry Roberts have distributed enrollment information at SLV bicycle shops and biking events since July to encourage interest. And, the preseason training workouts are not events for the shy and unwilling to put up genuine effort.

A few miles or laps in or around trails near Cole Park in eastern Alamosa, or on a pedestrian/bicycle path north-south on the west side of State Hwy 17, do not quite “shake a stick” at 2-hour sessions in the recreation area trails in Penitente Canyon near La Garita and Rio Grande CR 38A, which features rocky, somewhat steep angle trails. As for site location, it is about 13 miles northwest of Del Norte, with drivable access from Monte Vista as well.

Youth from Sargent, Monte Vista and Alamosa areas are members of the squad, including very capable Cameron Roberts, Devin Arellano, Ryan Astalos, Rand Kidd and Landen Tolsma, participating in a Wednesday, August 9th training workout at Penitente, plus Jacson Mumper, Kristin David and Daniel Macias, not there that morning but nevertheless active members geared towards the training riding that started at the canyon the previous morning.

While involvement in the upcoming competitive season beginning at the Frisco Bay Invitational at the Colorado town’s Adventure Park west of Denver near Interstate 70 is not strictly free, support from local organizations is widespread and volunteer help is a big part of the outlook for the Rattlers.

The 2016 team coach Tamera Rice, basically the team founder, continues as an assistant coach, along with Aaron Horrocks. Kathy Daley and Mark Skinner were active helpers and riders in the August 9 workout, supporting and helping in the safety and discipline of the session. The overall parent of the Colorado High School Cycling Association is the International Mountain Bicycling Association, which governs rules for NICA and certification of coaches for high school age cycling teams, for which training is a requirement.

According to data on a promotional flyer for the Rio Grande Composite Rattlers,  “Colorado High School Cycling League started racing in 2010 with 180 racers on 20 teams. In 2016, there were 1067 racers on 67 teams, including 210 females!” Sponsors and supporters of the 2017 team include State Farm Insurance, the Gunbarrel Station, Absolute Shine in Monte Vista, Alpine Title Co., the SLV Rural Electric Co-Op, Haefeli Honey out of Del Norte, plus the Del Norte Trails Organization, and Kristi Mountain Sports of Alamosa.

The Colorado HS Cycling League has North and South divisions. The Composite Rattlers are in the South Division. League Director is Kate Rau, out of 1165 Oakdale Place, Boulder, (720) 272-9282, email, Cheri Merrihew, [email protected] Here’s a schedule of events key to the Composite Rattlers upcoming season:

Fresco Bay Invitational, Frisco

NORTH: Saturday, August 26

SOUTH: Sunday, August 27

Cloud City Challenge

SOUTH (only, no North competition) Sunday, September 10 Colorado Mountain College, Leadville

NORTH:  Steamboat Springs, Sunday, September 10, Emerald Mountain, Steamboat Springs

Granby Ranch Roundup, Granby

NORTH:  Saturday, September 23

SOUTH:  Sunday, September 24

Chalk Creek Stampede, Nathrop

SOUTH: Saturday, October 7, McMurry Ranch, Nathrop

NORTH: Sunday, October 8, McMurry Ranch, Nathrop

And, at last: State Championship, Eagle [Colorado] Qualification Required

Saturday, October 21, Pre-Ride, End of Season Picnic

Sunday, October 22, Race Pool and Ice Rink, Haymaker Trail, Eagle

Captions: One of the team members is a little tired at the trail loop turnaround after some strenuous climbing and a quick downhill ride.

The three riders in the middle have just spotted a rattlesnake relatively close by on the ground. Both the assistant coaches and the team members suggested, laughing, that the snake be the team mascot. Photos by Stan Moyer