Race #3 | High Sierra Showdown

Mammoth Mountain – Mammoth Lakes, CA
September 25th, 2016

A jewel among jewels, the Eastern Sierra called, and the Nevada League’s high school and middle school mountain bike racers answered. Sweet single track, crystal clear air, formidable altitudes – it’s the opportunity to be places like this, only a few hours drive away, that makes our part of the world, and our racing and riding opportunities, so special. Sure, there are other NICA leagues that are bigger (for now!), and other race venues that are beautiful, but it would be hard to believe that there is anything more grand than the high alpine trails parents and their children were shredding this past weekend at Mammoth. What did our kids want to do when they were done pre-riding the course? Ride some more, of course! How do you tell mountain kids it’s time to stop doing what they were born to do and go get dinner? You don’t – you let them hop on the wheels of another group of friends and ride it again! Ernie Banks would understand.

It’s the opportunity to be places like this, only a few hours drive away, that makes our part of the world, and our racing and riding opportunities, so special.

More than one rider exclaimed that the Mammoth course had more descending than climbing. Since the race began and ended at the same place, it’s hard to understand how this could be possible! But with mostly gradual ascents and descents that included banked, pavered downhill sections, loose sandy s-turns, and more than a few rocks and roots, one can see the truth in this statement. At Mammoth, bike-handling skills were at a premium. Climbers – better wait for next time! This race was about handling the trail. Of course, racers reveled in the opportunity tackle this circuit, and more than one rider was seen grinning from ear to ear barreling down the final s-turns toward the finish.

There might not be crying in baseball, but there is definitely smiling in mountain biking. With its usual machine-like precision, the Nevada League stoked up the competition on time, beginning with the varsity girls. Winner of the Rattlesnake Roundup (Oops, I mean the Ironhorse Roundup!) Syra Fillet of Truckee High and North Tahoe’s Anna Yamauchi battled for the lead throughout the first lap. Unfortunately for Yamauchi, a flat tire and a crash knocked her bike out of the race. But it didn’t knock Yamauchi out. A course marshal generously lent her a bike, and off she went to catch the leaders. But another hiccup in Yamauchi’s day came when she realized she could not pedal the flat pedals of the new bike with her cleated shoes, so off came the cleats and on went the sneakers. Yamauchi worked hard for the remaining laps, trying to catch second place rider and points leader Aubrey Milner of McQueen, finally nipping Milner at the finish. However, two five-minute penalties for outside assistance meant an official fourth place finish behind another dominating ride by Fillet, Milner in second, and third place Ursula Volz of Incline Composite.

At Mammoth, bike-handling skills were at a premium.

The JV girls’ race proved to be another win for North Tahoe’s Lily Bradley, who looks to be the rider to beat at the upcoming league championships. Madison White of Galena finished four minutes behind Bradley to earn second, and Carson High’s Mallory Otto finished third. The sophomore girls’ top three were points-leader Mikaela Echo of Galena High, Adelaide Crow of Reno Composite, and Taylor Jenkins of Carson High School. Seventh grader Mia Dixon, racing for Galena High School, showed once again that she is a force to be reckoned with by racing up and winning the girls’ freshman division, followed in second place by teammate Emma Herschbach. The girls’ middle school race was a close affair, with Ciarra Wing of Truckee nipping Incline Composite’s Paloma Nolan by less than a minute. Truckee’s Hayden McJunkin was only a minute behind Nolan. Lucas Miers had some back luck at the start of the advanced middle School boys’ race, hitting the dirt within the first few yards. Undaunted, he climbed back onto his machine and finished a strong fourth in almost a dead heat behind third place rider Finn Loper of Truckee. Travis Boucher of Placer Foothills Composite took the second spot, while Galena High School’s Sam Evans posted a blistering last lap time to get the win. A massive field of thirty-six riders lined up for the middle school boys’ race. Cody Flynn edged out Truckee teammate Matt Seline by a two second margin. North Tahoe sixth-grader Kai Morgan finished third.

The boys’ high school races were also well attended. In the freshman race, points-leader and Rattlesnake Roundup champion Justin Kinser of Alta Alpina Composite took the early lead but was eventually caught and passed by Galena High’s Sam Ouzounian, who took the win. A little over a minute behind second-place Kinser, Galena’s Arturo Oti took the third spot on the podium. The sophomore race saw points-leader Tobin McRae of Carson High School continue his winning ways with a convincing win over second place Shane Swigard of Truckee High School. Third place went to Galena’s Jason Muff. The JV race was another blazing ride from Galena High’s Matt Nugent. On his second loop, he laid down the fastest lap of the day for all riders to pull away from his competition. Galena’s Jackson Miers showed that he is coming into form by finishing a strong second, one place behind his good friend Nugent, and one place ahead of his good friend Drew Swall of Reno Composite. The boy’s varsity race was a coming out party for North Tahoe’s previously unheard of (at least in the Nevada League!) Ross Tester, who blistered the course with two blazingly fast laps, jumping out to a huge lead. The other varsity riders fought for position behind him, but it seemed like it was Tester’s day. But the dreaded bonk took the spring out of Tester’s pedaling stroke, and the never-day- die attitude of Alta Alpina’s Danner Hilman paid off as he caught a fading Tester on the last lap. Tester hung in their for a second place finish in his first effort at a Nevada League race – no small feat! North Tahoe’s Cooper Anderson battled back from a poor start and poor first lap to finish third. Perhaps due to Tester’s participation, North Tahoe was able to squeak by Galena High, the team champion of the last two Nevada League races, to take the overall team title – a first for the Lakers.

Let’s keep the good attitudes and helping hands coming to make our last race of the season, the League Championships at Tahoe Donner, the best race of the year.

Volunteerism has been strong, with parents working hard to help Doug and his crew put on these amazing races for our kids. Let’s keep the good attitudes and helping hands coming to make our last race of the season, the league championships at Tahoe Donner, the best race of the year. Of course, with three outstanding races already under our belts, it will be tall order to top any of them, but the excitement around the championship race could put it over the top. As always, thanks to Doug and Lois Bedient and their crew, including but not limited to Kevin Joell – Race Operations, Jim Kelley – Chief Course Setter, Eric Blodgett – Infield Manager, Rusty JustRusty – Chief Course Marshall, Karl Volz – Chief of Scoring, and official league photographer Owen Swall. Until the Sierra Nevada MTB Championships on October 16 th , this is Chris Anderson – parent, volunteer, and over-all Nevada League supporter, wishing you happy trails. Ride on!

Complete event results of all the amazing athletes who participated in the High Sierra Showdown can be found at http://my6.raceresult.com/61900/?lang=