Several years ago, Miller School of Albemarle founded a serious mountain biking program. Led by professional cyclists, the students in the program dominated both the Virginia NICA fall race series and VAHS spring series. A few years later, Sam Lindblom started a team at Monticello High School. This team quickly picked up speed and riders improved very quickly, becoming legitimate competitors to those from more refined, private teams. Finally, two years later, every high school in Albemarle County jumped on the bandwagon. In these new teams' year and a half of existence, they have each gained more than two dozen members. Riders compete in both the Spring VAHS (Virginia High School) MTB league under the governing body of USA Cycling and the fall season under NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association).
At Albemarle, our team of around 20 riders takes part in two organized practices per week from 5:30 to 7:30 to both have a great time and train for races. Racing is not required; one can simply be on the team for the joy of it. However, taking part in races is encouraged. As far as coaches, they are simply parents of kids on the team who so kindly stepped up to give us a place to practice in the sport we cherish.
In the fall, NICA hosts four races across the state in which hundreds of racers ranging from 6th grade to 12th show up. Races are XC (cross country) style in which racers start all at once out in the open before heading into the woods. Each lap is between 3 and 4 miles and is a mix of challenging singletrack and fire roads. Races are divided into heats segregated by gender and age/ability. Both boys and girls categories have middle school boys A and B groups, freshman, sophomore, JV, and Varsity races. The number of laps one completes differs between each category. Every race is a logistical masterpiece. From the finish line to advanced chip timing to the announcement system, the event as a whole is a sight to behold.
Get more kids on bikes! Mountain biking is drastically different from traditional sports and we want as many people to experience it as possible.