Connor Hancock

Connor Hancock, JV Legacy, Dakota Ridge charges a descent.

Barb Edwards

Barb Edwards, Varsity Legacy, Douglas County digs deep for 5th place.

High School Mountain Bikers Display Tenacity Among Thin Air and Blue Skies

Colorado League Cloud City Challenge Race #2-South Report

by Michelle Jensen
Contact: Michelle Jensen

South Results

Amidst the breathtaking views of Colorado’s highest peaks Mount Elbert and Mount Massive, Leadville served up a gorgeous day for 565 South Conference student-athletes. With an elevation of 10,152 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated city in the United States. Easily accessible from town, the tree covered, 6.2-mile course starts at the Colorado Mountain College (CMC). The course includes portions of the CMC cross-country trail system and Lake County trails maintained by the Cloud City Wheelers. Racecourse consultation and design support were provided by Leadville Coach Bruce Kelly and Sterling Mudge of the Cloud City Wheelers. September 10th started in the sunshine with a cool 50 degrees and quickly warmed up. Clouds rolled at11:00 AM with a threat of rain, but thankfully no storm ensued. Colorado Mountain College - Sodexo provided a variety of breakfast and lunch items to keep everyone fueled.

The clockwise course started up a punchy pitch to a gradual climb through a pine forest and meandered through the Nordic ski trails to an old mining road. The course included a new section on Wheelers Way with magnificent views of the Sawatch Range. Riders were reminded at the start to watch their handlebars in the sections with tight trees. The course included exciting aspects for riders of all experience levels: twisty single track, double track road, fast and loses descents and of course climbing. The starting elevation of 10,077 ft. would prove to impact each rider’s race.

Leadville’s own Panthers: Caroline Benney, her younger sister Ariel, and Stephanie Reveles performed the National Anthem before the racing kicked into high gear. It was a special day for Stephanie, as it was her first ever mountain bike race joining her brother Brayhan a 12th grader who joined the team as a Freshman. Caroline decided to test her limits in the Varsity ranks after racing Junior Varsity in Frisco.

Tattoo Winner
Animas Tattoo
Tattoo Leg JV boy
Daggar Tattoo

The competition was fierce for the weekend temporary tattoo contest! Durango and Animas team participation sported original Zen bike designs, Crested Butte team theme was fake injuries, Lakewood had mandalas, Columbine girls were covered with tattoos, Cherry Creek’s enthusiasm was bolstered by Varsity racer Nolan Ales's quirky designs. The four Ridgeway racers were emblazoned with "Powered by Optimism." Nolan Ales many custom designs included, "Hot-pocket fueled to win", earned him the individual award. Green Mountain took the team award for the stunning original artistry created by Claire McComick for every teammate.

The increase in female competitors was evident. Mothers from Durango believe that the visibility of positive role models was the number one reason for the recent growth. In their eighth season, the two Durango schools train together and most have been training together since they were in kindergarten. They are like family. NICA President, Austin McInerny, added, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Creating lifelong athletes is the goal. A total of 129 girls raced making up 23% of the competitors in Leadville.

Girls start

Sophomore girls off the start.

The top Division 1 teams were a repeat of race #1 in Frisco, with CRMS and Animas taking first and second respectively for the day and overall. Crested Butte moved to 3rd for the day with only 58 points ahead of Salida. Columbine held onto 3rd overall for the series. Dakota Ridge eeked past Lakewood by 1 point. The depth of the CRMS Varsity field keeps them on top while the strong JV squad at Animas kept them in silver. Crested Butte's scoring strength came from their Sophomore and Freshman racers.

The Division 2 team competition remained unchanged with Durango in the lead followed by Green Mountain. Glenwood Springs earned the bronze by 31 points over Highlander Composite which moved to 4th overall. Durango showed this weekend that they are determined to hold their ground with 4 gold medals from Maddie Jo Robbins, Varsity Girls; Ruth Holcomb, JV Girls; Cobe Freeburn, JV Boys, and Wiley Corra, Freshman Boys. The Campbell brothers from Green Mountain were the team's top point earners while siblings Jacob and Lizzy Barsness boosted the Glenwood Springs team score. Hometown team Leadville placed 9th for the day a big jump from 26th in Frisco. Huge props to the Green Mountain and Leadville teams for helping take down the venue and load the truck after an extremely busy day.

Zac Richardson, Varsity, Douglas County was able to keep CRMS racers, Levi Gavette and Ian Catto, at a distance with impeccable pacing as his 4th lap was the fastest of the day. Richardson will line up in the Leader's jersey in Granby.

The JV Girls competition was stiff as there was only 1:19-time spread between 4th place Siena Muscianisi, Mountain Vista and 7th place, Sage Davis, Animas. Kennedy Scott, Rock Canyon placed 5th and Kate Oldham, CRMS finished 6th.

Ruth Holcomb Durango

Ruth Holcomb, JV, Durango keeps her Leader's jersey.

Zac Richardson

Zac Richardson, Douglas County, celebrates his Varsity win.

New for 2017 is the Slingshot jersey sponsored by presenting sponsor Your Hometown Toyota Stores. This award acknowledges the male and female racer who makes the biggest leap from their call-up position to their final individual place that day. Cade Reichenberger, JV, Evergreen started in 128th and catapulted to 15th. Noel Forney, Freshman, Green Mountain clocked negative splits for her 2-lap race and she earned the female Slingshot lining up 35th and racing to 4th.

The competition will continue to evolve as the series moves to Granby for Race #3, September 24th for the South conference.

Cooper Malozzi Awards

Cooper Mallozi, Professor of Outdoor Education at CMC.

Slingshot Leadville

Slingshot recipients Noel Forney, Green Mountain and Cade Reichenberger, Evergreen.

Throughout the day, student-athletes commented that Leadville definitely required a more technical skill set and all loved the fast downhill leading to the tight turn into the short climb to the finish. It was noted from parents and coaches how thrilled they were to see kids finishing strong and not giving up until they crossed the finish line!

Ryan Astalos, Rio Grande Composite was thrilled that his non-biker family came to watch him race as his team is new to the Colorado League. Freshman, Chloe Combs, Highlander Composite gave the course rave reviews,“The climbs were great, the course was well marked and spectators were kept out of racers' way.” She was on the podium in 3rd.

Fruita Monument teammates Ashten Davis and Corbin Burtard supported one another to finish 125th and 126th, respectively. Ashten commented, "I got a lot of speed on the downhills. I bonked and will have a bigger breakfast next time." Corbin was grateful that Ashten kept him focused on a section of trail that felt precariously off-camber to Corbin a new Freshman racer.

Legacy racer Graysen Duffy, JV, Bear Creek, exemplified ingenuity and tenacity after breaking his rear derailleur on the first lap. He converted his bike to a single-speed and tackled the course for a second lap ultimately running across the finish line.

Graysen Duffy

Graysen Duffy, JV, Bear Creek Legacy racer finished despite a major mechanical.

Freshman Manitou

Kirianna McNerney, Freshman, Manitou Springs.


Emmett Sanders, Freshman, Cheyenne Mountain.

More than twenty riders received Neutral Support from professional mechanic, Scott Banks, of Absolute Bikes. Donated parts, tubes, and Squirt Lube products got them back in the race.

Hot tips to "BANK" on:
1. Come prepared with tools and equipment, no one is out on course to help you.
2. Do regular maintenance to prevent having unforeseen issues arise (lube your chain!).
3. Have a professional build your tubeless wheels. Moral support often goes hand in hand with his repairs. He educated competitors while fixing a flat or installing a new chain, empowering them to be more self-reliant.

Tom Fox of Optic Nerve showcased slick new technology for switching out lenses. Spectators and participants heard directly from Professor Cooper Mallozzi about outdoor curriculum such as trail building at Colorado Mountain College. Western State CU had sunscreen on hand for everybody and provided information about many educational opportunities in Gunnison.

Race #3 is at Granby Ranch, where the North Conference races on Saturday, September 23rd and the South Conference competes Sunday, September 24th.

Toyota Venue


November 4th Annual Shift Primal Art Party Fundraiser, Denver, CO

2017 Race Schedule:
Race #1 August 26 (North) -27 (South) Frisco Peninsula
Race #2 - South September 10 - Colorado Mountain College, Leadville
Race #2 - North September 17 Emerald Mountain, Steamboat Springs
Race #3 September 23 (North) - 24 (South), Granby Ranch
Race #4 October 7 (South) - 8 (North) McMurry Ranch, Nathrop
Race #5 October 22 State Championships, Eagle


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