Race #3 | High Sierra Showdown

Mammoth Lakes, CA
October 1st, 2017

Mountainous cheers as Yonas Kerkoub, a foreign exchange student on the Carson team, who just recently started mountain biking, emerged from the woods to cross the finish. A truly memorable end to an amazing weekend of riding.

back to the beginning…

Winter hit the Sierra early this year. As the event weekend approached, we anxiously watched the resort cams for the 6-8” of snow that had blanketed the mountain a week earlier to disappear. Thursday night the green light was given. We’re off to Mammoth!

The short drive from the Reno Tahoe is as much of an iconic adventure as the trails we were about to embark upon. Cruising past lush rural farmlands, fly fishing areas of the West Walker river, Mono Lake, Topaz $5.99 all-you-can-eat spaghetti, soon arriving at our final destination. At 8,000 feet Mammoth Lakes CA, surrounded by the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas, is the highest altitude event on the Nevada League’s fall schedule and the home of the “High Sierra Showdown”.

This year Mammoth Event staff pulled out all the hospitality stops providing access to their most popular mountain bike trails and the comfort of the Mill Lodge, complete with food service, including massively popular tacos and burritos – Nevada League patron favorites.

Saturday rolled in and event setup was knocked out in record time with the assistance of an amazing corp of volunteers. Stacey Cook, US Ski Team member and 3 time olympian, joined by SoCal riders Meade Plum and California JV State Champion Genevieve Plum, kicked off the weekend with the GRiT (Girls Riding Together) pre-ride. Once again, I was overwhelmed by the spirit and sheer numbers in attendance. As they gathered ‘round for the introductions, I couldn’t help but think – Girls On Bikes Are Cool – but GOBAC doesn’t zing, so we’ll stick with GRiT. Following the pre-ride and stoked to hear everyone was excited about the course, we wrapped up the day and said “good night” Nevada League.

The high school girls were the first up for Sunday’s event. The cold bite of the morning, added course length, downslope mountain breeze, along with the backdrop of snow covered peaks, set the frame for a great day of riding trails and racing with friends. Local high school Nordic Ski athlete, Lexi Craven kicked off the event with the singing of the National Anthem.

In 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 and the 3rd event of the Nevada League’s second season was underway.

A complete list of the weekend results and points standing can be found at – http://my3.raceresult.com/82959/

Varsity girls came thru first with Mya Dixon of Galena leading the group. Her stoic expression and sheer determination followed closely by teammate Mikaela Echo. The JV Girls field mixed it up with Kate Indart coming out on top, Emma Herschbach 2nd and Myla Kahn rounding out the podium. The small Sophmore Girl’s category were unable to finish a rider due to illness and altitude issues. We wish them well and are excited to see their return at the Championships. The Freshman Girls, largest of the morning waves, brought the morning to a close with Ciarra Wing pulling out a first place finish followed closely by Abby Swall and Paloma Nolan-Bowers.

Typical to the season, the middle school fields crowded the staging area with smiling faces and riders ready to roll. First off where the Boys Advanced category. While the venue was more than adequate in size, infield layout didn’t allow for separate start and finish areas. With several freshman girl riders still on course, a plan was formulated to finish them short of staging. Moments after this decision, without warning, the two remaining riders, Glynn Boltman and Gaby Ramirez emerged from the tall pine. It immediately became apparent they did not receive the memo. Realising I was about to become a speed bump, I jumped out of the way as they split side-to-side for a sprint to the line. To their credit the boys in staging realised what was happening and collectively pulled aside to watch the amazing finale – front row seats.

Following the exciting, sweat inducing pause, the middle school fields took off for their adventure on the course. Darting from the wooded singletrack first for the MS Boys Advanced category was Matt Seline easily recognizable by his trademark goggles, worn rain, snow or shine, followed by Placer Foothills Composite athletes Wyatt Hamilton and Khy Kinsey in chase. Jake Westfall, Aidan Gustafsson, Peyton Bishop, Reed Loper and Dylan Lach topped Middle School Boys field. In the Middle School Girls Advanced wave, Hayden McJunkin took the win and put down the fastest girls lap time of the day, with Hope Crockell and Elsa Harrison finishing 2nd and 3rd. Completing the mid-morning festivities, Middle School Girls Annika Robison of Carson rode for the win, Lainey Lowden continued her strong season finishing 2nd and Sawyer Villanueva captured the 3rd position.

High School Boys were the final group of the day with Varsity up first. We’ve seen some great racing by this group and after dropping back at the Rattlesnake Roundup, Jackson Miers rallied for the win, chased by teammate Matthew Nugent and Drew Swall. In JV Boys, familiar names once again crowded the podium with Soam Ouzounian 1st, Jason Muff 2nd, Justin Kinser 3rd. Sophomore Boys saw Axton Albrecht take the win, Kol Hanson 2nd, Cody Bishop 3rd. Freshman Boys wrapped up the weekend with Lucas Miers, Terran Hood, Luca Robillard capturing the podium positions. Did I mention the mountainous cheers for the final rider of the day?

On the Team side Galena and Wooster continued their stranglehold of 1-2. However in a surprise result (for me, not for them), hometown favorite Mammoth pulled off a 3rd place team finish.

Many memorable quotes filled the air – here are just a few of my favorites

“This is the best NICA course ever!” – Anonymous NorCal League Athlete
“The Tacos are egg~salant. At the top of my all-time list” – Kevin Joell / Race Ops
“This program is so fun, I wish I was a high schooler again!!” – Stacey Cook / US Ski Team Olympian

Congratulations to all the rode the Showdown. It was a challenging experience for sure, one I will not soon forget. Mammoth provided everything we could hope for in a Nevada League event; spending the weekend with family, introducing new people to the sport, riding with friends,  awesome trails, miles and smiles. If you missed it, plan on attending next year. You won’t be disappointed. This was undoubtedly the best race of the year, if not #1 in the short history of the League. We’re already planning for 2018.

Special thanks to Footloose Sports of Mammoth who provided neutral support for race day and much to my surprise Velofix followed us down from Carson as well. With Haro Bikes providing demos and the KTM sprinter van in the lot, the event was representative of what we’re trying to provide for all our amazing student athletes.

http://www.footloosesports.com – Mammoth Lakes premiere sporting goods store.
https://www.velofix.com/locations/renotahoe – Full service mobile bike shop.
https://www.harobikes.com – Bikes for every style of riding, every size rider.

A visual record of the event by our student photographer Owen Swall can be found at – https://www.flickr.com/photos/146749774@N04/albums

Filling in as Race Reporter, your League Director, Doug Bedient. See you at the final event in Truckee. Keep being awesome!