By Bill Plock
Oct 24, 2022–Electric. Inspiring. Authentic. Fun. Love. Those words describe the atmosphere at the Colorado High School Cycling Championship this past weekend in Glenwood Springs at the Colorado Mountain College campus.
As I trekked through the course generously sprinkled with Pines and high desert cacti, I paused for a moment in a stand of thickly twisted trees and listened. As dust filtered the sunlight, I found myself somewhere between the racing single tracks winding through the woods. All I could hear was joyful cheering in rhythm with loud vuvuzelas and cowbells. I heard it all around me. I couldn’t see the race, but boy did I feel it.
I picked a direction and followed the sounds. Up the hill, I saw a glimmer of light. The sun reflected off a bike tearing through the woods. And then another and another. Emerging back onto the course, fans blended with the trees screaming and cheering for the kids. It didn’t matter who’s kid, they all mattered.
This is when it really hit me. They all matter. That electricity I had been feeling all morning each time a group would start wasn’t born in loyalty to a school. Or by fans of one particular student-athlete. That electricity I felt was born in love. Love for cycling. Love of kids on bikes. Love of kids competing and having fun. And these kids are good.
If you looked around at the enormous crowds, many partaking in the disco-themed 2022 Championship, you saw many spectators in bike helmets. Not like team helmets or even team jerseys in support of their school. But everyday helmets. To enter the venue on a bike, spectators or racers must wear a helmet at all times. Well, guess what, a lot of these parents, who weren’t volunteering to sweep or be course rovers, were out on their own rides while the kids hung out in the pit with their teammates.
It’s this love of biking smothering the thin air and permeating those pine trees that create a bubble of joy that seemed like it could take off and float down the Roaring Fork Valley and bounce over the Maroon Bells and carry on for eternity.
For about eight hours 820 riders from 86 teams vaulted to the top of the first hill shrouded in crazy fans in eight different starts. Each wave completed the four-and-a-half-mile loop twice except for the varsity boys and girls who pedaled it three times.
Schools came from all over; Spearfish South Dakota, Taos New Mexico, Laramie Wyoming, and of course from every corner of Colorado. Boulder High School edged out Golden and Fairview to take first in division one. Durango barely rolled past Steamboat and Colorado Rocky Mountain School (Carbondale) in division two. In division three, Crested Butte out-wheeled Middle Park and Fort Collins. Team divisions are based on the number of racers during the regular season, not necessarily school size. D1 = 30 plus. D2 = 29-13. D3 = 12 or less.
The top rider for the Varsity Girls was Kira Mullins of Columbine and Nichols Konecny of Summit County won for the boys. Kira is a freshman and when asked what’s next, said with a shy laugh, “I hope to win all four years!” Nicholas said of his race, “all I was thinking, go as hard as you can and leave nothing out there.” When asked what he loves about this sport he said, “the places it takes you, I get to travel and ride bikes, what’s better than that?!
Results for all riders and schools can be found HERE
Cycling is a lifetime sport of passion and perseverance. To witness the next generation embracing it with such joy and vigor is hard not to love. Knowing the sport most of the spectators love is alive and thriving adds to the magic of Colorado High School Cycling League’s grip on showcasing a passion that runs far deeper than just competing for a school.
It’s about the legacy of the cycling lifestyle and the love of seeing kids have fun on bikes, being brave, and vulnerable, constantly smiling, and loving to ride.
Here is a video capturing the ride