RACE 1--Forest Hill Park, Richmond, Virginia
VAHS MTB 3--Tevendale Farm
VAHS MTB 2--Blue Ridge School
VAHS MTB 1--Miller School of Albemarle
VAHS MTB Series Race 1
Miller School of Albemarle
The 2012 Virginia High School Mountain Bike Series kicked off with a hotly contested event hosted by the Miller School of Albemarle on March 20. As the first venue in a six-race series, junior riders from across the state and even as far away as Pennsylvania took the start in hopes of becoming the first wearers of the coveted VAHS MTB Series Leaders Jersey.
As riders began congregating at the start line, the top 10 finishers from the 2011 series were recognized and called to the front row before the blast of an air horn promptly started the race at 5:30. Twenty five varsity riders sprinted off the line, banging handlebars and popping gears as they flew across the lawn in front of the school’s scenic Lotus Pond and fought to be first into the narrow trails. Ahead of them they faced three laps of a challenging, four-mile course consisting of equal parts technical singletrack and wider gravel and fire roads.
From the start, three riders separated themselves from the chasing field and established a sizable advantage. Dylan Johnson, representing McLean High School in Northern Virginia, Jake King from the Miller School of Albemarle, and Jonas Zimmerman of Harrisonburg sprinted up the hills and carved the descents at a pace no others could match. Johnson was clearly in a league of his own, however, and dispatched of both King and Zimmerman shortly before the end of the first lap as he pedaled to victory, leaving the two of them to battle for second step on the podium. Going back and forth over the ensuing laps, King finally pounced on the last climb and set a tempo Zimmerman was unable to match and the two crossed the line in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Behind them, a similar battle was unfolding for 4th and 5th with Cameron Ritcher from Harrisonburg able to get the better of Richmond’s Parker Brookfield, while Miller School’s Taylor Clarke finished a close 6th with Derek Elliot of Harrisonburg hot on his heels in 7th. Young Adam Croft from Virginia Beach finished in front of Rawls Fortenberry and Brian Purdy, both representing Miller School of Albemarle, to round out the top 10.
In the girls race, defending champion Emily Croft from Virginia Beach picked right up where she left off last year and rode to a convincing win. Mason Hopkins finished 2nd with some impressive lap times, and Lindsey Carpenter from Harrisonburg, Virginia finished close behind her in 3rd . Madison Henry crossed the line to in 4th place in her first race of the series. Madison was one of the youngest competitors in the race, and she demonstrated that she will be one of the dominant forces in the Series this year and into the future.
New for 2012 is Junior Varsity category to encourage younger riders and first-time racers to try their hand in the sport of competitive mountain biking. These riders faced a one-lap race, but it was held on the same challenging course that Varsity had to tackle. In the race, Miller School of Albemarle’s Ben Scheiner was able to get the holeshot and never looked back. His lead slowly but steadily increased until he crossed the line, where he collapsed with a giant grin on his face. Behind, Scheiner’s MSA teammate Sanders Evans rode a great race and finished slightly ahead of Monticello’s impressively strong Winston Hoy to round out the top three. MSA duo Nate Smith and Niall Lovelace finished 4th and 5th, respectively, and Harrisonburg’s Douglas Ritcher held on for 6th in front of a pair of Blue Ridge School riders: Nana Ohemena, 7th, and Ned Nichols, 8th. Andrw Li from MSA and Bonjun Koo from Blue Ridge School rode strong races to finish off the top 10.
When all racers were safely across the finish line and the points tallied, the final result was the closest in VAHS MTB Series history: Miller School of Albemarle tied with Harrisonburg’s “Rocktown” squad. The tiebreak is based on each team’s 6th finisher, and in this case, MSA’s rider crossed the line just one position ahead of Rocktown’s, thus affording the Miller School of Albemarle victory by a single point.
The second race in the VAHS MTB Series will be held at the Blue Ridge School on Tuesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m. Blue Ridge School just completed a huge trail-building project that added 4 new miles of trails to their existing extensive network of challenging singletrack. Tuesday’s race will be held on trails built this fall by Progressive Trail Designs.
2012 VAHS MTB Schedule Announced!
A few additions for the 2012 Season:
- J.V. Category! It starts 2 minutes after the Varsity race. Courses are designed to make the J.V. race last approximately 30-40 minutes.
- Registration is now ALL on Bike Reg. A Season Pass is available for riders who are planning to complete in most of the series. There is race-day registration, but participants save time and money by preregistering.
- Varsity teams must start at least 5 riders at each race to be eligible for the team competition.
- New trails and more participants for the 2012 season! It's going to be a great season for racing.
- In addition to the VAHS MTB Leader's Jerseys, there will be medals and prizes for the top 3 finishers in each category.
- New "All-State" honors for the top ten riders in the series. "All-State" riders eligible to order custom VAHS MTB ALL-STATE Jersey at the end of the season.
- Exclusive VAHS MTB Series pricing on custom clothing from Starlight Custom Apparel! See Below.
We are pleased to announce that Starlight Apparel, Virginia's premier custom cycling clothing producer, is the official apparel provider for Virgina High School Mountain Bike Series. In addition to providing leader's jerseys, Starlight Apparel has exclusive pricing for custom team kits for all high school teams participating in the series.
To begin customizing a jersey and shorts for your school for the 2012 season, please contact Peter Hufnagel (firstname.lastname@example.org). Pricing and templates available upon request.
Learn more about Starlight Apparel at www.starlightapparel.com
Watch DGB Productions' Documentary of the 2011 Season.
2011 Race Reports and Photos
Bell and Croft Win Rocktown Race
Connor Bell takes his fourth win of the series and inches closer to taking the series lead on his hometown trails. The VAHS MTB series traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Harrisonburg, Virginia for the penultimate race of the spring season. Riders were treated to some spectacular views on the drive to the race. Led by Ken Bell, the Rocktown crew set up a fast and technical course that challenged and thrilled competitors. Racers flew across rock gardens, roots, and a pump-track section during the 4-lap race. In addition to the phenomenal trails and spectator-friendly course design, riders and families had the opportunity to once again spend time with Virginia's top professional cyclists. Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), Andy Guptill (Jamis-Sutter Home), and Andrea Dvorak (Colavita-Fornodasalo) attended and gave riders pointers before, during, and after the race. A Miller School rider commented, "Andy (Guptill) rode behind me on the technical rock garden and gave me advice on which line to take. It is pretty incredible to have someone I see in cycling magazines riding with me in a high school race." To have professional athletes like Bishop, Guptill, and Dvorak at the VAHS MTB races is inspirational for the athletes and shows how committed Virginia's professionals are to the development of the sport.
|Bishop discusses the course with riders.|
Before the race, Connor Bell was finishing up some quick calculations in his head while eyeing the VAHS Leader's Jersey hanging above the podium. After crunching the numbers he realized that if he won the race, and Keeling didn't finish second, he would be going home wearing the coveted leader's jersey. Understanding this, Rocktown riders had some extra motivation to finish ahead of Keeling to help their teammate take lead. The race started at a blistering pace, and Bell (Rocktown) jumped to an early lead to insure that he would be the first into the single track. Jake King (Miller School) was the only rider who could match Bell's early pace on the non-technical opening circuit; however, King flatted early in the first lap and fell out of contention. After recovering from a slow start, series leader Chris Keeling (CBC) rode into second place and kept the pace high to hold off a small chase group that included Clair Walizer (EVMA), Cameron Ritcher (Rocktown), and Jonas Zimmerman (Rocktown).
The three riders worked together to close the gap to Keeling. By the final lap the trio trailed by only a few seconds. Ritcher pulled away from his teammate and Walizer and gave it one big effort to catch Keeling on the closing circuit, but he couldn't quite close the gap and finished 9 seconds out of second. Ritcher's impressive ride earned him his first trip to the podium and shows that he will be a contender at states later this month. Zimmerman showed once again that tennis shoes and platform pedals can't slow down a big engine that is motivated and fit. His fourth place finish helped Rocktown win the team competition with an all-time low score of 8 points. Walizer crossed the line in fifth place and continued his impressive performance in the series. Ahead of everyone was Connor Bell who won the race by nearly 5 minutes.
Dillon Long (BRS) and Derek Elliot (Rocktown) spent most of the afternoon within a few seconds of one another. The two riders are both working to earn points to move up in the points series. Long used his experience and technical skills to cross the line a few seconds ahead of Elliot. Adam Croft (EVMA), Daniel Nelson (BRS), and Hayden Castle (BRS) rounded out the top ten. Emily Croft (EVMA) won the girls race and finished an impressive 15th overall.Bell makes it three on Blue Ridge School's technical course
Keeling retains leader's jersey
VAHS MTB riders were treated to some of the most impressive "big mountain" trails in the region on the single track surrounding Blue Ridge School in St. George, Virginia. Over the past seven years, Tony Brown and his army of BRS trail builders have worked tirelessly to engineer an incredible variety of rocky, root-covered, and steep single track trails on the school's 900-acre campus.
While some of the riders were learning how to negotiate rock gardens for the first time on Tuesday night, Connor Bell demonstrated his superb technical skills as he seemed to float over technical sections of trails. Bell cruised to victory on the 7-mile course in a remarkably fast time of 45:57, nearly 6 minutes ahead of second place finisher and series leader Chris Keeling and third place Clair Walizer. Both Keeling and Walizer demonstrated excellent fitness and technical skills as they duked it out for second place. Keeling climbing skills allowed him to pull away from Walizer, who almost caught Keeling on the final descent.
Perhaps one of the most impressive rides of the entire series was 10-year-old Adam Croft's incredible fourth place finish. The EVMA rider finished only a few minutes off the podium and showed once again that he is one of the best mountain bikers in the state. Croft's ride helped EVMA get closer to taking the lead in the team competition. One of only a few riders in the series to have completed the grueling Shenandoah 100 mountain bike race, Croft is no stranger to technical and steep trails.
BRS's Dillon Long came back this week with a strong ride on his home course to round out the podium. Derek Elliot, who was recently announced by VORS as the winner of a free spot in Charlottesville Bike Camp's mountain bike camp, had an impressive ride and finished a few seconds behind Long and just in front of CBC alumnus Taylor Clark. Still rocking the platform pedals, Jonas Zimmerman showed that he is a contender even with tennis shoes. MSA's Kyle Ottaway and Will Chambers both had untimely mechanicals, but both were able to repair their bikes on the trail and finish just outside the top ten. Cameron Ritcher, Michael Khaliph, Daniel Nelson, Campbell Rutherford, Brenton Nichols, and Bowman McCuiston all rode great races and completed the grueling course.
Emily Croft Wins and Finishes in the top ten in the boys race
In the previous race report, it was commented that Emily Croft would soon be a giving the top boys some serious competition. Well, one week later, Emily Croft shows that she is competing for more than just the series in the girls competition. Her incredible ride earned her the first top-ten result for a girl in the short history of the series. Emily completed the 7-mile course in an impressive time of 1:10. Using her amazing fitness and technical skills, Croft rolled through the rocks and roots that left many of her competitors walking.
At this point, Emily is the most decorated rider in the series. She has earned 4 VAHS MTB Leader's jerseys. If she continues to dominate, she will be wearing blue camo this summer at Charlottesville Bike Camp for free.
Rocktown wins the team race by one point ahead of EVMA
Clair Walizer, Adam Croft, and Emily Croft (note that this is a co-ed team) almost took top honors ahead of the red Rocktown riders. Bell's win along with Elliot's 6th place and Jonas Zimmerman's strong 8th place finish was enough to give Rocktown their second team victory of the series.
Connor Bell Wins VAHS MTB Race #4 ahead of Whit Zirkle and points leader Chris Keeling
Connor Bell jumped to an early lead on Miller School of Albemarle's challenging 12-mile course and never looked back. He crossed the finish line over a minute ahead of second place Whit Zirkle and nearly two minutes ahead of last week's winner and series leader Chris Keeling. One of the race's most exciting duals was between Clair Walizer and Jake King. The two riders duked it out and traded off the lead numerous times each lap. In the end, Walizer pulled away from King on the final single track switchbacks and held the lead up the infamous "MSA Wall" to cross the line in fourth. King rode well for an impressive fifth place finish.
Riders were treated with beautiful weather and a new single track section of trail recently built by Miller School students. One addition to the course was a 1/4-mile grass climb with an average grade of nearly 20%. Spectators gathered at the summit of the climb to watch riders working hard to clear the brutal climb.
Miller School of Albemarle's Headmaster Rick France and his wife Sandy were among the numerous VAHS MTB fans who attended the race. Like most high school athletic events, athletes had the extra motivation of a cheering crowd on much of the course.
1. Connor Bell (Rocktown)
2. Whit Zirkle (Charlottesville Bike Camp)
3. Chris Keeling (Charlottesville Bike Camp)
4. Clair Walizer (EVMA)
5. Jake King (Miller School of Albemarle)
Emily Croft continues to dominate the girls series
Emily Croft may be the most talented high school athlete in Virginia. Remarkably, she is only in 7th grade. Croft impressed VAHS MTB fans once again with here aggressive riding and incredible technical skills. She floats up climbs and dances across rock gardens. While it is clear that Croft is the strongest female competitor in the series, it is becoming obvious that she has the ability to compete with most of the boys in the series. Her consistent strong riding has helped the small and young EVMA team climb to the top of the team competition. Furthermore, Emily has more series points than any other competitor in the series--it is looking likely that she will win the FREE entry to Charlottesville Bike Camp's mountain bike camp this summer.
1. Emily Croft
Taylor Clark wins Middle School and under race ahead of Adam Croft
After missing last week's race due to a crash in a VORS race, Taylor Clark came out swinging in round #3 of the VAHS Series. The Charlottesville Bike Camp rider from Richmond showed that his spring fitness is coming around as he stormed around the challenging Miller School course and left many high school riders in his dust. Clark's technical skills helped him negotiate the tight single track and his climbing prowess allowed him to power up the brutal climbs on the course. Not far behind Clark was 10-year-old Adam Croft who showed once again that he is one of the most talented young mountain bikers in the country. While Croft couldn't quite match the speeds of Clark on MSA's course, it will be interesting to see how the two match up on Blue Ridge School's highly technical course next Tuesday. VAHS standout rider, G Shulz did not attend the race, but he will certainly be a factor in Race #4.
MSA-CBC Elite Team Riders Dominate VAHS MTB Series
It is hard not to notice that "blue camo" kits are on the podium a lot in the VAHS MTB Series. The top-three riders on the podium of Race #4 all had some "blue camo" on their kits. So, what's with the blue camo?
Spearheaded by professional road cyclists Andy Guptill (Jamis-Sutter Home), Miller School of Albemarle and Charlottesville Bike Camp combined forces to create one of the nation's premier U-19 junior development cycling teams. While it is only one month old, the team has already proven to be one of the strongest squads on the road and trail. Current VAHS MTB series leader, Chris Keeling, finished a remarkable 5th place in the Tour of Battenkill, which is one of North America's most competitive road races.
Connor Bell has clearly demonstrated that he is the strongest mountain bike rider in the state with his two VAHS MTB victories and recent 12th-place finish at Sea Otter Classic. Likewise, Whit Zirkle regularly impresses at both USCF road races as well as VORS and VAHS MTB mountain bike races. While these riders do not all ride on the same high school team, they will be working together all summer in both road and mountain bike events. Team director Andy Guptill commented, "the VAHS MTB Series is one of MSA p/b CBC's top priorities for the spring. The series is one of the biggest things to happen for junior cycling in Virginia; it is incredible that cycling is now a high school sport and great for our riders. Another great aspect of the series is that it is showcasing the talent of junior riders in the Commonwealth. It is impressive to see the number of committed athletes at these races--the future of American cycling is looking very bright."
Chris Keeling wins round #3 of VAHS MTB Series and takes Leader's Jersey
Fresh off his 5th place finish at the Tour of Battenkill over the weekend, Chris Keeling (Charlottesville Bike Camp) rode to victory ahead of Danny Ortiz (Albemarle) and Clair Walizer (EVMA) in Race #3 of the Virginia High School Mountain Bike Series held at the Tevendale Farm in Earlysville, Virginia. The race began at a furious pace led by Albemarle High School senior, Danny Ortiz, who jumped to the front of the pack and drilled through the mud, roots, and rocks on the windy trails. Keeling and Walizer kept Ortiz in their sights while slowly pulling away from Blue Ridge School's Dillon Long, road cycling star Jake King (Miller School) and standout rider Adam Croft (EVMA). After one lap, the three leaders were within a few yards of each other. However, Keeling made an unexpected pit stop at the start finish to tighten a loose seat collar, which allowed Walizer to move into second place. Once back on the single track, Keeling reeled in both Walizer and Ortiz and used his climbing skills to ride away to victory and into the leaders jersey ahead of Walizer and Race #1 winner Connor Bell (Rocktown), who missed the race to compete in Sea Otter Classic. In the pack, it was a dual between Rocktown, Blue Ridge School, and Miller School of Albemarle for team standings. Dillon Long showed that he is quickly becoming one of the top riders in the series with his strong 4th place finish. Kyle Ottaway (MSA) rode a superb race to finish in the top ten to help MSA finish 2nd overall on the day. Tandem Friends School showed great improvement since the first race and rode a consistent and strong race.
|Adam Croft rides to 5th place overall|
In the middle school and under competition, G Shulz showed that he has the motivation and talent to give Croft serious competition. After missing the start of the race by nearly four minutes, Shulz jumped onto the course and started picking off high school riders while riding his way into the top 15. The Northern Virginia rider demonstrated poise and confidence on the technical trails during his impressive ride. He will certainly be a contender for the overall title in a few years.
Realizing that the team competition rested heavily on his performance, Adam Croft kept up a furious pace to finish 5th place overall. Croft showed that he has the potential to win a race this year.
Emily Croft Wins and helps EVMA take over team competition
|Emily Croft and Ursala Nelson on the podium|
Bell and Croft win the first race of the VAHS MTB Series.
|Bell celebrates his historic win|
|Keeling concentrates on descent|
|Whit Zirkle on his way to a podium spot|
Emily Croft Cruises to Victory
|Nelson uses her descending skills to keep Croft in sight|
Middle School and Under Competition
Adam Croft finished fifth overall in the race and secured the title of the top middle school and under rider. Close behind was Richmond stand-out Taylor Clark (Charlottesville Bike Camp) and Adam's older sister Emily. Northern Virginia rider G. Schulz showed that he is well on his way to being one of the top contenders in the high school series in a few years with a top-20 finish. Close behind Schulz was Rocktown rider Campbell Rutherford and Tristan Naftez.