Rumble on the Ridge (186 racers) And T-Town Throw Down (179 racers) The final two races of our season came together so seamlessly that we earned the

   
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Rumble on the Ridge (186 racers)
And T-Town Throw Down (179 racers)

The final two races of our season came together so seamlessly that we earned the ultimate compliment from a visiting race director: “So pro!” What can we say? Our volunteers, coaches, and staff are dialed! (In other words, #yallrock!)

“We’ve got a phenomenal group of staff members who volunteer their time and give up their weekends,” said League Director Eddie Freyer. “We had 77 volunteer positions to be filled at the Rumble on the Ridge, and we had so many people step up and volunteer, we had to turn folks away.”

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Two weeks ago, the sun rose over Oak Mountain not a minute too soon, but the course, still muddy from the week’s heavy rains, left racers splattered after the Rumble on the Ridge. It was a challenging course, with slippery roots and slick turns, but more than a few of the day’s 186 racers got grit in their teeth, which means that at least they were smiling.

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An epic battle developed in the boys Varsity Field, beginning with a surprise upset at Oak Mountain. In the leader’s jersey, Pierce Elkins of the Huntsville Rockets, who dominated the first two races with an ample margin, suffered a broken derailleur late in the race.

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Phoenix Freeman of Hoover High passed him less than a lap from the finish line, using his motocross skills to fly over the rocks, roots, and logs of this technically challenging course. Pierce, unable to shift, soft-pedaled to the finish line but couldn't close the gap. Phoenix, a sophomore bumped up to Varsity by his coach, took home the top podium spot of the day.

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The Varsity boys continued their battle at the final race of the series, the T-Town Throw Down—also the state championships. The heat was on from the starting siren, and Pierce (#RhymesWithFierce), still the series leader, set the pace with white-hot lap times. Phoenix, Chase Davis (Vestavia Hills) and Jackson Davis (Hewitt-Trussville), were not far behind, all three battling it out neck-and-neck. Pierce nabbed his third win of the season, and second place was won in the last 100 feet of the race, where Jackson overtook Phoenix by a few millimeters, in what was a photo finish. Chase had a late race crash taking him out of contention.

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The Freshmen Girls saw an epic race of their own, between Jolie Dufour of Oak Mountain High School and Madelyn Roberson, of Red Mountain Composite. Jolie earned the top podium spot at the first two races with a comfortable margin of several minutes but suffered a mechanical early in race #3. She got back out on course after a quick repair by our amazing neutral support mechanic (Jon Deweese) but not before Madelyn was able to build an insurmountable lead.

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Madelyn, a middle-school student racing as a freshman, had quietly climbed the finishing ranks and rocketed to a first-place finish in Race #3. In the final race, the two duked it out all the way to the finish line, where Jolie won by a slim margin of only 2-seconds. It’s Madelyn’s first year racing bikes, so watch out for this one in years to come!

Both The Rumble on the Ridge and The T-Town Throw Down featured tons of great competition in every one of the fields. Racers knew that every point counted for their team's chances at a podium spot in the final awards ceremony of the season. The opportunity to claim the state championship also motivated racers across the board to give it their all at both Oak Mountain and Munny Sokol. While not everyone could win their respective races, they all walked away winners after having made history as being the first ever high school and middle school mountain bike racers in the state of Alabama.

Of course not every race goes the way you expect, and some racers found themselves in situations that tested their mettle. Hugh Davis, an 8th grader from The Donoho School, broke both pedals at Race #2.. The Vestavia Hills team loaned him a set. In Race #3, he broke those too. He kept calm and pedaled on. (#lifelesson) Hugh was awarded the Spirit of NICA award at Race #4 along with Spencer Wilson, Alex Donald and Christian Mason.

There are so many life lessons to be learned on the bike, and we hope every racer in the league learned a few. A few of our favorites:

1. There will be obstacles in your path. Believe you can get over them, and you will.
2. Momentum is your friend.
3. Look ahead!

All these student-athletes set the bar high for the future of this sport and we look forward to watching this league develop over the coming years as more and more families get involved.

Check out www.alabamamtb.org/races for a list of results from the entire season and all the amazing images from Randy Webb can be found at AL MTB NICA Photos .

From the entire staff, we say THANK YOU for an amazing first season and can’t wait to see everyone again soon.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter with information about “What’s Next” for the Alabama league.

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