New opportunities arise for Moab youth as the high school’s mountain bike team begins its second season.
The Grand County High School’s mountain bike team held their first camp that 20 students from around the state participated in between June 10 and 12. The three-day camp consisted of two mountain bike rides, a hike and river-rafting trip down the Colorado.
The first day, the students rode the Moab Brand trails north of Moab near the Bar M Chuckwagon. The second day ride was on the Klondike trails also north of Moab.
Both days also had a little play on the local pump and BMX tracks at Anonymous Park on 500 West, as well as hike Negro Bill Canyon. On the third day, the kids rafted the Colorado River.
“Towards the end, the kids were playing games, conversing and just having so much fun with each other that it was fun to see them come together even though they are from all across the state, they were able to make friends and that was really fun, positive aspect,” said Christa Green head coach for the Moab team.
Green and Melissa Nerone, head coaches of the Moab team, organized the camp as well as continuously coach the team throughout the season.
The team started in the spring of 2012 when Lori Harwood, the director of the Utah Cycling league, approached Green to start a chapter. The league had recently been sanctioned from the National Interscholastic Cycling Association better known as NICA.
Harwood also contacted Green and Nerone to put on the camp where the proceeds would go directly to the local team.
No financial support is given to the team from the school. The team is directly supported by local sponsorship, which Nerone said is the best in the state out of all the schools. “Our local sponsors really step up and help the team, donated money for the team jerseys, real happy to have the support of our sponsors,” Nerone said.
“We had such great community support of having people come in and demonstrate and just be ride leaders and it was just very generous for them to come in and help out with the camp,” Green said.
The team has community support and volunteers who help on a regular basis. Mike Smith, Dave Bagley and Michelle Hill are a few ride leaders who regularly support the team at their practices and races.
Though the team is open for anyone who wants to ride, the team now has four boys: Jamie Marshall, Preston Bagley, Tyler Flanders and Sam Hanson.
Not all who are on the team have to race, but three of them do. They participated in four races last fall leading up to the State Championship where Preston Bagley took overall champion. This year the state championship will be held in Moab on Nov. 9, with the course set at Moab Brand trails.
All the races leading to the championship are in northern Utah and have a lot of interval riding, steeper climbing and shorter descents.
“It’s a completely different style of riding down here, our desert style versus anything up north is more mountainous, the dirt and just the whole terrain and obstacles are very different up there, so we believe our course in the fall, there might not be as much climbing and its at lower elevation, but its going to be more technical,” Nerone said.
The team is beginning practices now, with three practices a week each day based on a different technique. One day will be for fitness, another for skill development and the last for trail riding. The team will also begin two-hour early morning stamina rides.
The races have four different levels and two divisions. The two divisions are divided by amount of team members. Division One has twelve or more members on a team and Division Two has eleven or less members. Division Two now has 25 schools and Division One has six. Most of the teams are from the northern Utah. Only two come from southern Utah: Grand County and St. George.
The levels range from freshman, sophomore, junior varsity (JV) and varsity. As each level progresses the races get longer. For example, a lap will consist of four or five miles and the freshman and sophomores could have two laps to race, then the JV will have three laps, and the varsity would have four laps.
This being the only Coed sport in the state, the team hopes to add a girl to the mix.
For the team to collectively be eligible for points at the races, the team requires both genders.
“The number one thing I take away from watching it, unlike every other sport I’ve seen, the individual/team competition, where you are competing for yourself and for your team, the amount of camaraderie there are between individuals of rivaling teams,” said John Marshall, the father of Jamie Marshall. “The guys from all the teams will still hang out, be friendly and be in support of each other, even if they are from a rival school, they will still cheer on bikers from other schools, and that’s just cool, I’ve never seen that in any other sport, that’s kind of a neat little twist to the whole thing.”
Towards the end, the kids were playing games, conversing and just having so much fun with each other that it was fun to see them come together even though they are from all across the state.”