Race #2 | Ironhorse Roundup

Hidden Valley Regional Park, Reno NV
September 10th, 2016

Bringing its “A” game once again to its second-ever event, this time to the hills east of Reno, the Nevada League scoffed at the idea of the sophomore jinx.  For many of the volunteers, the event began early Friday morning during course and infield setup.  Their work was not in vain as the course and infield area could easily have been mistaken for a world cup mountain bike venue. Molly Hunsberger kicked off the festivities with a gorgeous a cappella version of The Star Spangled Banner.  League Director Doug Bedient, obviously moved by the purity and power of such a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, did his part by re-enacting his crowd-pleasing flag run from the North Tahoe Challenge.  Sprinting (fast-jogging?) from the start line before each race while at the same time carrying the over-sized Nevada league flag is not easy, but Doug was up to the task, to the obvious delight of the gathered throng of athletes, parents, coaches, and other supporters.

Tahoe had its yellow jackets, but Hidden Valley, true to its wild-west nature, presented riders with a different type of poisonous brute – the rattlesnake!

The course itself was sneakily difficult.  If out for an easy pedal with your dogs, the winding, gentle track didn’t pose much of a problem. But once attempted at race speeds, the loose, dry soil proved more challenging.  More than one racer experienced the sensation of tires losing grip on the ball-bearing desert earth, quickly followed by bike and body abruptly hitting the ground.  For the most part, riders popped back up and soldiered on, and except for a little dust on the kit, no worse for the wear.  But loose dirt wasn’t the only potential hazard.  Tahoe had its yellow jackets, but Hidden Valley, true to its wild-west nature, presented riders with a different type of poisonous brute – the rattlesnake!  At least two sightings of the toxic serpents were confirmed, and for the lucky few to see one of nature’s most impressive creatures, no adverse effects resulted – only a thrilling memory and a story to tell.

In accordance with the expected chivalry of old-west heroes, it was “ladies first” at the Ironhorse Roundup.  The first competitors out of the gate were the varsity and JV girls, and they did not disappoint!  A division of only one racer at the North Tahoe Challenge, the varsity girls’ division grew to four at the Ironhorse Roundup, with first time racer Ursula Volz from Incline Village Composite joining points leader Aubrey Milner of McQueen High School and former JV racers Anna Yamauchi of North Tahoe and Syra Fillet of Truckee High.  The pace was fast and furious from the beginning, with all four racers battling for the lead.  After only one lap, however, Fillet established herself as the rider to beat, taking a clear lead over Yamauchi in second and Volz in third.  Fillet and Yamauchi held these positions for the rest of the race.  Milner, however, was determined to try to catch Volz for third.  The two raced hard, with Milner eventually passing Volz to take the final spot on the podium.  In the JV race, North Tahoe’s Lily Bradley led from the start and finished over three minutes ahead of Galena’s Carli Cheek.  Another Galena rider, Veronica Gardella, took third.

Two minutes after the JV and varsity girls, the freshman and sophomore girls started together.  In the freshman race, Galena seventh grader Mya Dixon crushed the course, passing every girl on the track except the two varsity leaders to earn the win.  Dixon’s teammate, Emma Herschbach, raced hard to take the second spot.  Galena’s team strength continued to show in the girls’ sophomore race, won by sophomore points leader Mikaela Echo.  Reno composite’s Adelaide Crow fought hard to earn the second spot, while Carson High’s Taylor Jenkins took third.

The middle school girls’ race was a nail-biter with Ciara Wing of Truckee High nipping Reno Composite’s Astrid Crow by only seven seconds!

Three middle school divisions raced for titles: two boys’ divisions (middle school boys and advanced middle school boys), and one middle school girls’ division.  The advanced middle school boys completed three laps on the shortened, middle school course, and it was a tight and exciting race from beginning to end.  Khy Kinsey of Placer Foothills United laid down some impressive lap times to earn the win.  Close behind, Finn Loper (I love these names!) finished second. Travis Boucher completed the course less than a minute behind Loper to take third.  The regular middle school boys also came to race.  Truckee High School’s Cody Flynn and Matt Seline finished the two laps in first and second respectively, with only 35 seconds separating them.  Less than a minute behind Seline, North Tahoe’s Kai Morgan took the last spot on the podium   The middle school girls’ race was a nail-biter with Ciara Wing of Truckee High nipping Reno Composite’s Astrid Crow by only seven seconds!  Now that’s a race!  In third was Incline Village Composite’s Paloma Nolan.

The freshman boys’ division was YUGE!  Thirty riders toed it up at the line to race.  Luckily for freshman champ and new points leader Justin Kinser of Alta Alpina Composite, he had a seeded call-up position at the starting line, which gave him a relatively open road ahead.  He took advantage, posting three very fast lap times to get the win. Only about a minute behind, North Tahoe’s Alan Tester laid down the fastest freshman lap of the day on his final loop to earn the second spot.  Reno Composite’s Crispin Hilliard narrowly missed toppling Tester for third, less than two seconds off Tester’s time!  It will be exciting to follow these three at the High Sierra Showdown!  The sophomore boys’ race featured a very strong showing by points leader Tobin McRae of Carson High School.  McRae took first place over Galena’s Jason Muff by less than a minute, another very competitive race.  Andrew Bourke of North Tahoe finished a strong third.

The race of the day may have been the boys’ JV contest.  Friends Matthew Nugent and Drew Swall pushed each other over four laps, with Galena’s Nugent finally shaking Reno Composite’s Swall on the last lap.  Nugent smoked the course, posting the fastest time of the day for all riders, with Swall less than a minute behind.  Galena’s Jackson Miers raced to a solid third place finish, seven minutes behind Nugent but six minutes ahead of his closest competitor in a large, sixteen-person field.  Austin Smith took control of the varsity boys’ race early.  North Tahoe’s Cooper Anderson, battling illness and a mid-race crash, fought valiantly, but was no match for Smith’s consistent output of power.  Smith steadily pulled away from Anderson, earning his second consecutive Nevada League varsity boys’ title.  Anderson also repeated his result from the North Tahoe Challenge with a second place showing. Connor McRae rounded out the podium for the varsity boys, riding himself into a strong third place showing and putting himself into position to compete for the season title.

There is no doubt that the Nevada League is moving forward on solid footing.  Pre-race and post-race, the infield was abuzz with exuberant, excited mountain bike racers.  FUN was the order of the day, and true to the NICA mission of inclusivity and sportsmanship, the Nevada league racers, coaches, and fans supported one another, whether teammates or rivals.  Two races down, two YUGE successes.  Of course, none of this would be possible without ALL of the volunteers who chose to donate their valuable time and efforts.  Of course Doug and Lois Bedient are much appreciated by all of us, but we would be remiss not to thank other Core Staff who have so selflessly donated their time:  Kevin Joell – Race Operations & Pest Control, Jim Kelly and Crew – Chief Course Setters, Eric Blodgett – Infield Manager, Rusty (just Rusty) – Chief Course Marshall, Karl Volz – Chief of Scoring and unofficial League photographer Owen Swall.

Complete event results of all the amazing athletes who participated in the “Roundup” can be found at http://my2.raceresult.com/61054/

Middle School Individual Overall Points – As of Race #2 Leaders in the Middle School categories remain the same with the tie in the girls middle school category going to the first points leader.

We meet again in Mammoth, home of high-altitude trails and bright bright blue skies, for the High Sierra Showdown on September 25th.  Until then, ride on!

— Chris Anderson – parent, volunteer, and over-all Nevada League supporter.