CRMS wins state mountain biking championship
Who knew the Colorado Rocky Mountain School even had a mountain biking team?Well, last spring, it turns out, spurred on by a group of five enthusiastic CRMS mountain bikers, the Carbondale prep school founded a competitive team.And now the CRMS riders are high school state champs.Behind three top-10 finishes on a fast 12-mile course – with junior Mitchell Hoke in third, sophomore Colin Osborn fourth and junior Tate Fairbanks eighth – the CRMS wheelmen bettered 19 other schools at the state high school mountain biking championships in Colorado Springs the last weekend of October.Sophomore Jerred Blanchard and junior Paul Distefano finished 19th and 20th, respectively, in the 63-rider field.”We’ve had mountain biking at CRMS for maybe 15 years,” said Andrew Gardner, the cycling coach at CRMS. “But it was never more than two days a week, never more than just an afternoon activity. But we had some serious riders, and I’m serious about riding, so we turned it into a team last spring.””And really it’s their enthusiasm that’s spurring the team,” Gardner added. “I’ve never been so proud of these boys.”The team raced in NORBA-sanctioned Mountain States Cup events last spring and this fall. Gardner heard about the high school state championships event, now in its fourth or fifth year, by way of “an open invitation that went out across the junior channels.”In the race, Hoke, who is from Evergreen, and Osborn, of Carbondale, battled each other to the finish for the final podium spot.”They were sprinting against each other at the line and Mitchell just pinched Colin out at the line,” said Gardner, “which kind of shows how awesome they ride together.””Mitchell just has a little more experience – he’s a junior and Colin’s a sophomore – and you can see how the experience plays out.”Fairbanks, of Glenwood Springs, “had an awesome race,” said Gardner. And Distefano, of Telluride, and Blanchard, of Washington, D.C., rode well for rookies. “I believe it was their first mountain bike race ever,” the coach said. “They’ve gotten to be good riders just chasing the other guys.”Teams were permitted to enter any number of riders they wanted at the state championships, but only the top-three finishers from each team counted toward the team score.The CRMS team also competed in the 24 Hours of Moab last month, for a second time, and finished fifth in the junior division. “I have a feeling they’ll find a way onto the [junior division] podium in Moab next year, because they’re getting good,” said Gardner.The team has since disbanded for the winter, though Gardner expects the squad to grow when they resume Mountain States Cup racing in the spring.”We’ve had some great support from local businesses helping us along,” Gardner added. “Professional Auto Body [of Glenwood Springs] painted the boys’ bikes a very, very bright pink, and now Colin has taken to calling us the ‘Pinky Brigade.’ And Ajax Bike [in Carbondale] has been great to the boys. Well, they tolerate the boys walking in there and man-handling things, most days.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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