Race #3 | High Sierra Showdown

Mammoth Lakes, CA
September 30th, 2018

September 30th, 2018 may have been an ordinary, gusty, chilly Sunday for the vast majority of the Mammoth residents, but with the Nevada Interscholastic Cycling League taking over the mountain, it certainly proved to be memorable for a plethora of riders, families and supporters. Walking up the short dusty incline to the race start, it was difficult to ignore the sheer majesty of the towering trees and dignified mountain. The views are stunningly diverse.  From the bare mountain chair lift stopped in time, lifelessly hanging above a deserted grit, to the majestic greens that blanket the surrounding skyline, I knew that this race was truly special in every single way, including the course.

The Mammoth hospitality was not unnoticed. Camping in the parking lot, along with The Mill Lodge doors open for use, with music beating through the speakers and the most insane breakfast burritos and street tacos for lunch, all cooked to order, added to the manifestation of community.  The atmosphere was one that mirrored the forest and the wholesome nature of every NICA event.  Taking a moment to scan the surrounding, one encountered a profound mix of new growth in the upcoming athletes, not pushing out the old, but rather adding depth to the scene.  One cannot truly understand the complexities of support until they divulge in the experience of the event itself.  Little girls sat in a circle stringing beads onto leather, making bicycle bracelets with Lois Bedient, while Ginni (69) and Jeff (71) eagerly shared that they were there to support Alta Alpina rider Audrey Keisling.  “I’ll never forget when her grandpa called me, letting me know that Audrey wanted to ride Mammoth with me.  I thought we’d just go out for a ride around town and then have lunch, but she was so skilled and so excited that we ended up doing a full day.”  It doesn’t matter how old you are, riding bikes never gets exhausted by age.

Following a trumpet played national anthem by Mammoth (CAT/RACER), the races started promptly with gusts of sand storms blasting the spectators and competitors.  The Varsity and JV girls took off together in a pack, with JV Hayden McJunkin of Sugar Bowl Academy proving that she is near untouchable regardless of the terrain.  “I found some difficulty with the altitude and the amount of climbing, but this single track is my favorite.  I love the Mammoth berms.”  She took lead of both the JV and Varisty pack, doing near 20:40 minute laps to clinch her series championship title for the 2018 race series.   Varisty girls Emma Herschbach fought through allergies and back pain to clinch her title as Number 1 as well.

The day was not without triumphant finishes and extreme crashes.  The Advanced Middle School Boys rode in a pack of 7 riders until near the finish when the top three racers had a photo finish with Alta Alpina racer Matteaus Solkusky coming from a few bikes behind to take the victory.  Middle School Boys riders Joshua Bodenstein of Alta Alpina and Trevor Purdy of Truckee High School 1st and 2nd place spots were distinguished by just 7 hundredths of a second.  Varisty Boys Leader Jackson Miers of Galena High School felt the wrath of the wind and climbs stating, “That 4th lap was rough.  I went all out the first three laps, then had to push hard to finish the 5th.  There was a lot of twists and turns and my strategy was to push where other people normally wouldn’t.”

Sophmore girls’ Paloma Nolan-Bowers of Incline Village Academy finished third off of her first place win at the last race, starting her race without her cycling shoes, as they were lost the day prior.  Exiting the finish line, she fought back tears as she breathlessly told her mom that she had two interferences.  “A mountain bike rider with a full face mask came out of nowhere and crashed into me.  I went head over the handlebars.  Then another spectator all in black was crossing the track as I came around the corner and I flew off my bike.”  The fight within these riders is profound.  She exudes the NICA core value of a strong mind being mentally tough and resolute, too focused to quit, but not naïve enough to adapt to their situation.

To conclude, unlike the roots of the towering pines planted deep within the surface, these riders plant their bikes firmly onto the top soil of the earth only momentarily.  They race by, disturbing the air as they pass, but just as quickly as they zoom by is how fast the atmosphere returns to its tranquil state.  Spectators surely feel the silent calmness, leaving them lost in the majesty of the Earth, as well the sport’s power and beauty alike.  As the day came to an end and teams and families pile on top of one another at The Mill for awards, the loud excited talk of the race slowly turned to a relaxed, busy chatter of bike-less topics.  I looked around and realized, this time more than ever before, that we are all one big family, built on diversity and respect.  The values that are being imprinted on our youth extend well beyond their cycling moments.  We are a united team under an inclusive, equal Nevada Interscholastic Cycling League with strong bodies, strong minds, and strong character at every edge of the spectrum.

– Race reporter and League mom Kimberly Bodenstein

Special Thanks to Haro Bikes for their support of the League, great demo bikes and stepping in as our Neutral Tech Support provider – https://www.harobikes.com – Bikes for every style of riding, every size rider.

Complete results can be found at – https://my1.raceresult.com/108412/

See you at the final event in Truckee. Keep being awesome!