Two years have passed since the Aspen High School mountain bike team has had the chance to defend its state championship. But the wait ends this weekend with the Durango Mesa Pursuit, the final races of the fall’s Colorado Cycling League season.
Competing as a composite team with both Aspen and Basalt students this season, there is belief a repeat championship is within reach. The expected nine-rider group will be led by AHS senior Markus Dewire and BHS senior Emma Borchers.
Dewire has been especially strong this fall and will be one of the first on track in the boys varsity race come Sunday, while Borchers is among the second group in the varsity girls race.
“He’s won every race of the series through the region that we are in,” team coach Scott Leonard said of Dewire. “So, he’s the No. 1 guy going into the race.”
The high school mountain bike team started nearly a decade ago now, and since then Roaring Fork Cycling, a local nonprofit, has taken over operations. While the riders might wear Skiers’ red or the Longhorns’ purple, the high schools don’t directly administer the teams.
Leonard took over as the team’s primary coach in 2018, and a year later in 2019 Aspen won the Division 3 state championship. Colorado has three divisions, divided up by how big each team is, with Division 3 being for the smallest of teams and Division 1 for the largest. Boulder edged Fairview and Summit for the Division 1 title in 2019 — Glenwood Springs was sixth — while Durango took the Division 2 title that year.
The 2020 high school mountain bike season was canceled because of the pandemic, so the Aspen group has been able to hold onto its title as reigning state champion since 2019.
Along with Dewire and Borchers, other racers who qualified for state (but might not compete) this weekend for the AHS/BHS composite team are: Finn Johnson (varsity boys), Levi Logan (varsity boys), Miles Johnson (JV boys), Harrison White (JV boys), Megan Heath (JV girls), Brody Fox (sophomore boys), Liam Heath (freshman boys), Monte Musselman (freshman boys) and Cole Chism (freshman boys).
Racers qualified by competing in the three prior races this fall, including Aspen’s own Snowmassive Chase on Sept. 25 and 26, collecting points each time out. Dewire’s 1,175 points (only two of the three races make up the final point totals) are tied with Summit’s Lasse Konecny, Fairview’s Liam Baartman and Durango’s Ivan Sippy for tops in the varsity boys race. Of those four, only Dewire competes in Division 3, although all will compete in the same race come Sunday.
Leonard said Konecny and Sippy stand out as Dewire’s toughest competition, both riders who have given him plenty of difficulty in past races.
“It’s not a math equation. It is a race. He has a chance on paper,” Leonard said. “He’s raced these guys a lot outside of high school races and those two I just mentioned, he’s never beaten before. So on paper, third, fourth, fifth is probably where things will settle out. But you never know. He has improved since the last time he’s faced those guys at nationals in July. So we’ll see.”
Roaring Fork’s Corbin Carpenter is among those in the second wave of the boys varsity race, while Glenwood’s Chloe Lutgring — competing in Division 1 — is tied with Durango’s Bailey Cioppa as the top qualifier in the varsity girls race.
The current schedule has the freshman and JV races running on Saturday morning, with the sophomore and varsity races slated for Sunday morning.
More detailed information can be found at coloradomtb.org.