High school cycling program completes first season

Above is one of several cycling teams that have been formed in Oro Valley for high school students.

Courtesy Photo

The Arizona High School Cycling Mountain Bike League was organized in 2012 to provide competitive mountain biking programs for high school students, with the first full season recently coming to a close.  

The League sees itself as the ‘T-Ball’ of cycling.  Regardless of ability level, the Arizona League is committed to providing a positive experience for all student-athletes.

In the first season, Oro Valley was well represented with the Oro Valley Composite Team finishing 12th and the Ironwood Ridge High Team taking 14th place.  Tucson High/ El Grupo Youth Cycling won the overall and The El Grupo Composite team finished fifth.

On the varsity men’s side, three of the top five hailed from Tucson.  Cal Skilsky of Ironwood Ridge finished second.  El Grupo rider Christain Santa Cruz was the winner. In the junior varsity competition, Caiden Plummer from the Oro Valley Composite team took home third.  In the freshman boys competition, Brian Heritage just made the podium with a fifth-place finish.  

The Female Freshman champion, Carolyn O’Neill, and Sophomore boys, Tyler Stites, hailed from El Grupo Youth Cycling.

Oro Valley was coached by Kit Plummer, who when asked why he is coaching, said, “It was really important to me, from the start of the Oro Valley Mountain Bike Club, that we work to represent Tucson and Oro Valley, bringing our great trails and community to the rest of the state.  Pride in Tucson mountain biking and the desire to create an environment for boys and girls to grow, be active in a healthy community, and compete in the sport of cycling”. 

When asked about the difficulties of starting a team from scratch, Plummer said, “The two main challenges are the logistics of practices, 

and recruiting girl riders.  We run a consolidated practice and training plan, with riders from all of the Oro Valley schools twice a week.  Evening practices, usually held in the Tortolita mountains, are challenged by varying rider’s skills and a race for sunlight.  Some northern Arizona teams have an abundance of girl riders and we would like to represent well there too.  In the spring we intend to run an essay contest for girl athletes, with the winners receiving bicycles and gear donated by local shops.”

Plummer went on to say  “The first season has been a resounding success.  Aside from the racing results, we’ve established school clubs at Ironwood Ridge and Basis Oro Valley, and are working hard to get them running at Canyon Del Oro and Mountain View high schools.”

Now that the season is over, when asked about the plan for resting he said, “We don’t really have an off-season.  We’re fielding riders at various cycling events through the winter and spring, doing trail maintenance, and staying healthy and fit.  Our goal for the winter is to get Tucson a race for the 2013 AZHSCL season.”

Anyone interested in joining the Oro Valley team can email coach@ovmtb.org.

(Editor’s Note: Damion Alexander is a Bicycle Advocate in Southern Arizona and has a blog called bikepilgrim.com.)

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