2015 was a great year in the NorCal High School League. I was sad to see it come to an end, but on the bright side I had a GREAT time at all of the races. I had a good performance at the California State High School MTB League Championships race, my best so far this season. I came away with a 2nd place only 15 sec off the winner, and had the 2nd fastest time out of 190 Junior Varsity racers!
We arrived at the venue at around 6:00pm on Friday evening. My duty was to get out for a pre ride! Quickly, I found that the course was not yet marked. So I just took my best guess of the race course and did a hard 30 minutes of riding. By Saturday the size of the venue was HUGE! it was 1/3mi long and 1/8mi wide with hundreds cars, RV’s, campers and trailers parked in it!
It was definitely the biggest venue in the League history! Later Saturday morning Dad and Nye went and ran the course to get a detailed look at it. They told me what to expect, and I went out and did a couple of practice runs until I knew the course like the back of my hand. I woke up Sunday morning excited and ready to shred!
After getting myself prepped, and finishing my warm up, I headed to the start line ready to try to claim a State Championship Title. As the announcer called me and the racers up, 2 people were missing from the call up so they decided to start us 4 across. In order to put my strategy into play, I lined up in the 3rd row on the far left side of the road. “Your going to start in 5 seconds” said the Announcer, 5….4….3….2….1….GO! I took off like I was shot out of a Cannon and immediately passed the racers in front rows and shot into the lead. After about 1/4 mile I was passed but I quickly regained the lead. Just before the single track I was passed the SoCal leader Mikael Rogers and a NorCal High School MTB League racer, Charlie Velez. We knocked out the first mile on a frantic pace, once we hit the first long, steep and switchbacking climb (the Firestone Wall) we had developed a large gap on the next group of racers. We reached the top of the first climb leaving the rest of the 90 JV racers a long way back. Surprisingly, we were leaving them behind, but thinking back not really because we were really cranking out the Watts!
Next, after a longer, flat we hit a minor climb. Mikael and Charlie went so hard I had to dial it back, I knew that we still had 16 of our 18 miles still to hammer out! That allowed them to gain about 30 feet on me and it stayed that way the rest of 1st lap. On the 2nd lap I was starting to catch back to Charlie and by the time we reached the top of the Firestone Wall climb I had passed him. Now all I had to do was catch Mikael who was now 2 switchbacks ahead. All through the 2nd lap the gap between me and Mikael stayed consistent and I had the final lap to close this gap. On the last lap looking up the Firestone Wall switchbacks I could see Mikael was going slower than I was, so I pushed harder to catch him. Halfway into the last lap on a really tight and switchbacking climb, my job of closing the gap was DONE!
Soon after we caught a group of racers. They let Mikael by with no problem, but they seemed set not to let me pass. So when I did pass it was very forceful. They got so mad and yelled some pretty bad words! Not what I expected, but I have a job to complete! I tried to catch Mikael again but since I was held up so long he had reestablished the lead I worked so hard to close. So I chased, for the rest of the race (which was about 2 miles) as hard as I could! Race traffic made that a daunting task, but I came to within 15 sec of him, I happily took 2nd! All total there were 255 Racers on the 6 mile loop course. I passed 90 of the 97 Division 1 wave of Junior Varsity racers that started 6 minutes ahead of my Division 2 wave, plus probably a few other Varsity and my Division 2 class JV racers!
I was REALLY happy with my result. What if was what I felt, I felt I could have beaten Mikael if I would have been allowed to pass (the group of racers that held me up) as easily as he did. Still, I had my best result of the year a 2nd place in the Junior Varsity D2 Boys (and the 2nd fastest JV time out of 155 racers) at the NICA California State High School League State Championships!
Racing in the NorCal High School League this year has been a blast! I had a great time, racing for nearly 3 months and I am super sad that they are over. I can’t wait for next year’s NorCal High School League to start. I am super honored and proud that as a true 14 year old I have been able to accomplish the entire set (when I only need one) requirements for automatic Varsity Upgrade, very few, if any, race age 15 year olds accomplish that! I also look forward to when my brother Nye will be able to race Freshmen and to help represent our team!