By Eddie Clark
(November 13, 2011) CASTLEROCK, Colo.—The Colorado High School Cycling League held its final race of the four race series on a perfect day after being twice delayed due to bad weather. Additionally, the fourth race served as the Colorado State High School Championship race, and capped off an excellent second season of high school mountain bike racing in Colorado.
By all accounts, the series has been wildly successful and has nearly doubled in participation. Many schools recognized significant growth in their mountain bike teams this year both in racers competing and support from their local communities. With nine division 1 high school teams and twenty-one division 2 teams competing for overall standings, it was obvious there would be no shortage of good racing for the State Championships.
The weather was cool and windy which provided dry conditions to compliment the very contestable course for the series final. Depending on classification, racers had to complete two or three laps around the 6.2 mile course at Bison Park which featured 666 feet of climbing per lap. The clover leaf course allowed for great spectating, and the rolling nature provided racers plenty of fast downhills that were followed up with short healthy climbs. "The course was really fast and in good shape, and it was pretty technical so you had to stay on your toes all of the time", said Varsity Boy's series winner Christian Kloser.
First to start were the Varsity Girls at 10am with three laps around the well laid out course. Laurel Rathburn (Cheyenne Mountain composite) went to the front from the start gun, and clocked the only sub thirty-two minute lap time of all the girls who raced on her first lap. While Rathburn set the winning pace, Sage Kitson (Salida HS) and Arian Dittmer (Golden HS) rode wheel to wheel for the last two laps to gain valuable team points.
Kitson put in a great ride to take second, which helped her lock Salida High School into second place for the team competition, and Dittmer finished just behind to claim a well earned third place. Series Varsity Girls winner Dominique Fenichell finished in fourth place just 1:20 back, and also helped propel Boulder High School to a narrow overall victory over Salida High School.
Starting as the last group of the day, the Varsity Boys took off in a blaze that had the leaders all within sight of each other for most of the first lap. Fairview High's Justin Noel took an unexpected lead, and held it for all three laps to take the win with a narrow margin over Isaac Stackonis. "I was in the lead the whole way and It was going great, and then Isaac showed up and made it a lot harder".
With the end in sight Stackonis (Salida HS) put in a valiant effort by clocking the fastest lap time of the day at 26:23, but was just a few seconds shy of catching Noel before the finish. Third place went to Christian Kloser of the Vail Valley Composite team who competed consistently in all four series races to win the overall individual classification for the Varsity Boys. "It's a great series and a lot of fun, all of the events are really well put together and organized", noted Kloser about this year's high school mountain bike race series.