Aspen prep mountain bikers race at Elbert
The Aspen Times
The Aspen High School mountain bike team added a number of firsts last weekend at the Peaceful Valley Invitational near Elbert.
The race was the third of four races on the fall mountain bike schedule of the Colorado High School Cycling League.
The mountain biking Skiers had their first photo finish of the season while racing for the first time at Peaceful Valley.
The Skiers fielded only eight cyclists with many back in Aspen for the annual Western Slope College Fair.
“Finally, the weather cooperated and every category was able to complete their full race distance,” said AHS mountain bike coach Aimee Ross. “The race loop was approximately 5.3 miles with 536 feet of climbing per lap for the JV girls, sophomore and freshmen categories.”
The JV and varsity boys raced an additional 1.3-mile loop on top of the 5.3 miles, she said, adding that the longer loop included the tough climb up “heart attack hill.”
Ross said Aspen’s Sonja Gagen raced in the girls division.
“She again showed her consistency on the race course,” Ross said. “Peaceful Valley proved to be an additional challenge as they added an additional lap to the JV girls distance.”
Ross said Gagen was steady on the longer course, finishing 12th in her division.
“Our biggest group of racers again was the sophomore class. These boys continue to improve and they certainly put on quite the show for the spectators,” the Aspen coach said.
Shaw Hughes improved his performance by placing 24th, moving up 10 spots from the last race.
“Nicolas and Connor Laughren certainly entertained us for a photo finish,” Ross said. “They worked together the entire race and duked it out in a sprint finish.”
Connor was 22nd with Niclolas a close 23rd.
“Matt Herndon continues to show his persistence to contribute to the team,” Ross said. He finished 40th and added valuable points for the Aspen High School mountain bike team.
Kevin Callahan, of the Skiers, rode onto the podium and nearly cracked the top three at Elbert.
He raced with the second and third riders, eventually finishing fourth.
Race organizers adjusted the race schedule last weekend to ensure the JV boys would have a complete race.
The first two races of the series were abbreviated for the JV boys because of bad weather.
The races were moved to Sunday morning and “the weather couldn’t have been more perfect,” Ross said.
Hunter Callahan and Ty Carpenter represented the Aspen team in a huge field of more than 100 cyclists.
“Both Hunter and Ty were able to manage a mid-pack start,” Ross said adding that they worked up in the final placings.
Hunter Callahan finished 33rd. Carpenter finished 61st.
With their combined finishes, the Skiers stand No. 13 out of 26 teams in their division in the Colorado High School Cycling League.
The team now will prepare for the high school state championships Oct. 20 in Eagle.
The cyclists will be racing on a new course designed specifically for the high school championships.
The team will go to Eagle this weekend to practice on the course.
Head coach Nat Ross said he believes the course is the best course of the season for the high school riders.
The Aspen High School mountain bike team is sponsored by Charlie Tarver and the Hub of Aspen.
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In 2020, after one particularly negative projection on the future of the pandemic and its effect on cycling, CS Velo team owner Kurt Dodds considered shutting it down. CS Velo started as a club before becoming an elite team in 2016.