A little over a week ago, I participated in my first Minnesota High School Cycling League race. This is the second year Minnesota has had a high school mountain bike league and this year Duluth has a composite team. I think Cycling being a high school sport is a amazing way to grow this sport and as such I greatly admire what NICA and the Minnesota High School Cycling League is doing. While I will be unable to participate in most of the high school races due to 'Cross, the first race on the calender did not clash with my racing schedule so I was able to attend.
Brain Hayden -who is one of the coaches for the DCT (Duluth Composite Team)- drove some of the riders on the team and myself to the race course on Saturday to pre-ride the course and have fun socializing with each other. I had previously met some of the people on the team but also was able to meet many new faces. The course was located at Salem Hills and was 4.5 miles of completely flat, very fast ski trails with a hard packed rut though the center and some surprisingly fun flowing Singletrack.
We woke up at 6:40am the next morning, ate breakfast, and drove over to the race venue to set up our team tent. The girls raced at 9:30am, the boys at 12:00pm. We had one girl on our team, Amanda, who raced the Frosh/Soph category and placed 13th. After the Freshmen, Sophomore, JV, and Varsity girls all finished, I did a easy spin around the course to see if it changed at all. As I expected, the already sandy soil was very loose from almost a hundred girls riding on the course. This made the once relatively easy course challenging due to lack of traction
At 11:40pm, after finishing my warm up, I found my way to the call up area for the Varsity boys. only the riders who raced in the series last year and scored points were called up to the front row, however I was attentive enough to snag a second row starting position.
On the first corner I was 5th wheel, I worked my way up to second wheel after the first few corners and stayed there for the first half a lap or so, getting used to the course. I attacked then and rode the next few laps alone until coming into one to go, I had to stop for a long line of lapped traffic. I waited there for about 30-45 seconds and by the time I got by everyone, Second place had caught up to me. I let him lead through the start finish stretch, then attacked. It stuck and I won the Varsity boys. The Duluth Composite Team got 3rd overall! I had a lot of fun racing with the team in a high school setting.