There is a new team sport in our area that is making an impact on the lives of the boys involved as its first season gets underway.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Cycling Team (SCMCT) competed in its first race of the season on Feb. 26 at Granite Bay, near Folsom, Calif. The Granite Bay Challenge had over 600 mountain bike racers from around the state participating.
“The team killed it,” said Andrew Cavaletto, team coach and professional downhill bicycle racer. “The boys didn’t look like beginners to me. I was so proud. They made the newly formed SCMCT community proud.”
The team consists of 11 male riders from San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley high schools. One team member is an eighth-grader but will not compete until he is high school league age. The team competes in the Nor Cal High School Cycling League, which is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
The boys had their first experience of pedaling success with three junior varsity riders and four freshman riders placing top 20 in their field.Freshmen Sophomores Junior Varsity Joe V. - 1st place Karl S. - 43rd place Garrett H. - 12th place
Mitchell P. - 6th place
Nic D. - 18th place Dylon O. - 11th place
Josh M. - 20th place Ryan S. - 13th place
Ben S. - 32nd place
Christan M.- 43rd place
Each field consists of 50-70 riders in each race. The freshmen boys rode a 12-mile track (two laps), while the sophomore and junior varsity teams rode 18 miles, or three laps.
Mitchell P. rode his first competitive race on Sunday and loved it.
"Being on a cycling team is different,” Mitchell said. "Our team has a high skill level because of the area we train. It’s so much fun.”
The team came together last year after a who are now attending high school expressed an interest in competing on a local high school team. With our local schools struggling with resources, mountain biking was not selected as a school-based sport for the 2011-12 school year.
With this in mind, Scotts Valley parent Steve Simonovich, who owns Scotts Valley’s Santa Cruz Pasta Factory, teamed up with Andrew Cavaletto, who owns Scotts Valley Cycle Sport, to make the local boys’ competitive mountain biking dreams a reality.
Together the two put in many hours organizing the group and holding bike training practices. They recruited local sponsors and received biking technique training from Katie Holden, a professional women’s bicycle racer.
The team trained hard for its season by riding four days a week in Bear Mountain, upper UCSC campus fire roads, Wilder Ranch and trails near the Summit area.
The team’s goals are to improve riding skills, build character, make new friends and compete against other high school-level mountain bikers.
The SCMCT expects to grow once the word gets out.
“This is not a one-year team,” Cavaletto said. “We are hoping for new team members next year and hope to see girls join us. It’s definitely a co-ed sport.”
Now that the season is in full swing, the boys wear their team jerseys to school on the day before races. This is turning a few heads at school and bringing positive attention to the new mountain biking team.
The team’s upcoming races are:
Central Coast Classic (East Garrison, Monterey) - March 18
Laguna Seca Grand Prix (Monterey) - April 1
Boggs Mountain Classic (Boggs, CA) - April 15
NorCal Championship (TBD) - May 6
CA State Championship (Los Olivos) - May 20