Updated: Dec 5, 2022
Mountain biking is a sport that has been around for years. Most schools don’t even have a mountain biking team. There are many schools in Colorado that do have a team. Rocky, Poudre, Fossil, and Fort Collins all have their own team. Each school that does have a team races against other schools. They either race teams that are in their region or way out of their region. For example, Telluride Mountain High School and Loveland.
Now, of course, with a big group of teenagers, there are bound to be injuries. Such as skin abrasions, joint sprains, carpal tunnel, lower back pain, broken collar bone, broken leg, broken arm, concussions, and dislocations. Depending on the difficulty of the terrain of the track, there can be some more serious and extreme injuries like collapsed lungs, ruptured kidneys, severed arteries, and nerve damage. Although, these are all very unlikely. For school sports, mountain biking would probably be the most dangerous. Unless you only entered the athletes in easy races. Each race track has its own difficulty, green being the easiest, blue more difficult, orange freestyle, black most difficult, double black being extreme, and red being expert.
Now with these races, most of them are cross-country and enduro. In cross-country races, some of the race lengths vary from 20 to 100 miles. These races are a lot less technical than enduro races but involve a lot more climbing and less downhill. Enduro races are a lot shorter but have a lot more technical features and are much faster downhill. Enduro Races are also a lot more dangerous than cross-country in the fact that they are more flowy, much faster, and have more features including jumps. Unlike the podium finishes in cross-country races, Enduro races are all about time. The fastest rider down the trail wins.
There are many different race styles in Colorado and there are many different races that you can enter. ColoradoMTB is a mountain biking group consisting of many different high schools around Colorado. These people hold their own races for the high schoolers to compete against other schools. This group of bikers hosts many different cross-country and enduro races all over Colorado. Even though their name is ColoradoMTB, they do have a few items in South Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico. The ColoradoMTB group is slowly growing. So far, they have had races in Frisco, Leadville, Steamboat, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Snowmass, and Nathrop. These are just some of the locations that they race at in Colorado.
Even though this group hosts many different races in Colorado and surrounding states, there are many different styles or races and places to race. There are many different slopestyle and freestyle events. These events are tailored for those riders who like to jump and show off for the crowd. Many riders that do races all know one major race for all mountain bikers. Red Bull Rampage. Rampage is the most extreme and difficult event to get invited to. You have to be super confident in doing 25ft plus gaps and drops all while doing a trick down them. There are many other events like LooseFestXL, Crankworx Whistler, RedBull Hardline, and Red Bull Joyride. This year Crankworx is being held at Whistler Mountain, British Columbia, Canada. Whistler is the home to extreme downhill events. All riders want a chance to ride for a day, or week, at Whistler. Whistler is also a hotspot for enduro races and downhill.
There are many different races in Colorado. Some of them are short and easy, the others can be long and grueling. Some of these races are The Palisade Plunge, 18 Hours of Fruita, 12 hours of Mesa Verde, and the Emerald Mountain Epic.
The Palisade Plunge. This isn’t a race but mentioning it is ideal. The Palisade Plunge is a long-distance single track down from the top of Grand Mesa to the town of Palisade CO. This is a 33-mile-long track with over 5’000 feet of descent. This is a trail made for experts. On this trail, there are very few places to stop and get water. Most of the people that have done and completed the plunge take roughly two gallons of water per person. Many people died on the Palisade Plunge because they either didn’t pack enough water or they died on the trail. The Plunge is 33 miles total but there are places that you can start that are lower than at the top of Grand Mesa. One of the spots shortens it to only 16 miles. The last 10 miles or so are through a narrow canyon. More than half of the trial is along a steep narrow ridge that has many 100-plus foot drop-offs.
The 18 Hours of Fruita is a hot race even though the track itself is only 7.3 miles. For this race, you are at Highline Lake State Park. This track is 7.3 miles around the lake. It’s called 18 hours because you are biking and doing however many laps you can do in 18 hours. Now, this can get pretty hot because this track has little to no shade. However, the temperature of the Furuta desert all depends on the time of year this race is.
The Audi Snowmass 50 Mountain Bike race is a two-team race over 50 miles with two laps. This race is a relay race one racer would complete the 25-mile loop and come back to the start, or signal, their partner. This race has two different styles. It also has a 25-mile solo race. A solo race, in its own way, is harder than a team relay because you only have yourself to rely on. If you get hurt you have to help yourself and risk getting disqualified.
The Cycling Stages Leadville Trail 100 MTB. This race is a solo race. The participant is allowed to bring any necessary gear if they feel like they aren’t going to be able to make it to the finish in one day. Most of the 100-plus mile races usually end up with people getting done the next day. There are also 48-hour races that require people to take short naps throughout the race. The only downfall to this is, while you are taking a short nap, people can pass you making your current position fairly hard to maintain.
The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde. This race takes place in Phil’s World, Cortez. Phil’s World is a place that is well known for its fun trails. However, lots of the trails have no cover from the sun and you are likely to get heat exhaustion. Many of the trials at this place are fast and flowy, but that's when you get to the top of them. If you want to, a good practice run to time yourself on how fast you are is to do the Lemonhead Rib Cage loop.
Adventure Fest at 18 Road. This race is on a dirt road. This race would be a great race to enter if you have a gravel bike. It’s a total of 50 kilometers (31 miles). The good news is that these races are commonly held in the fall or in the spring before it gets too hot or cold. With all of these races, it’s a miracle if not a lot of people get hurt. With these races being mainly in the desert, the most common injuries will be heat exhaustion and dehydration. However, there are also many different races that are in the mountain that are cross-country, downhill, or enduro. The Emerald Mountain Epic is a race that takes place in Steamboat Springs. It’s a 52-mile-long relay.
With all of these races, there are definitely going to be crashes. These crashes can inflict some serious injuries. In 2017, when Remy Morton was 19 years old, he attempted the world's largest BMX jump during LooseFestXL in Belgium. He managed to clear the jump but he overshot it by a lot. Remy hit the ground at 75 km/h or 45mp/h. He broke 22 bones including his neck. He was in a coma for nearly a month. According to Couiermail, not only did he break 22 bones, he collapsed both lungs, ruptured a kidney, broke some vertebrae, including one in his neck, and suffered significant nerve damage in his arm that left it as good as paralyzed. He managed to make a full recovery and is back doing what he loves knowing about the immense danger that comes with BMX and mountain biking.
All and all, these events and races are super popular in many desert states like Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. As a matter of fact, RedBull Rampage, the most extreme mountain biking event in the world, is located in Virgin, Utah.
Even if you aren’t into Rampage, there are still many different races that you can enter. Like the 18 Hours of Fruita, Emerald Mountain Epic, and the Audi Snowmass 50 Mountain Bike race. Of course, these races are tailored to more of the races that have been racing for years. But there are still many different shorter races probably close to where you live. Whether that’s in Fort Collins or Steamboat, there are many races that you can enter. Now depending on where you go to school, there is likely a mountain biking team at your school or close to it. If you want to sign up to be on a high school mountain bike race team just go to ColoradoMTB.org or talk to someone at school, maybe they know a thing about a race group.
Nate Meeter is a junior at Poudre High school. He mountain bikes, skis, and plays baseball and tennis for fun and for a living. But mainly for fun. This is his first year on the Poudre Press. He also runs a blog that you can check out here!