Team looks to build on successes of 2011
It’s 8:30 a.m. on a chilly February morning and some two-dozen high school students are strapping on helmets and lacing their cleated shoes. They’re not the “famed” Falcons, and this is not football. It’s mountain biking, a sport that is booming at Crescenta Valley High School.
CV Cycling, a co-ed mountain bike team that also includes Clark High School students, has grown from eight riders in 2009 to more than 25 who recently took part in a grueling race schedule at Vail Lake in Temecula.
For months, these highly motivated and fit students have been tackling rides three times a week in the San Raphael hills, Verdugo Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains, honing skills on single-track trails and fire roads. The training paid off at Vail Lake – five of the 10 finishes were Falcons. Pamela Bogust placed fifth in varsity girls, Adam Rowton took third in freshmen boys, Alex Deroche took eighth in freshmen boys, Sevag Bosnoyan placed eighth for sophomore boys (Div. 2 independent) and Evan Cobb took 10th in sophomore boys. The team next heads to Yucaipa this weekend for their second race.
But it’s not only competition that the riders learn.
“We teach them how to shift gears, proper use of the brakes, correct body position and technique,” said head coach Jim Rowton. “Our first and most important focus is always rider safety.”
The team had reason to expect good results in the contests that vary from 12 to 24 miles. Last season, CV Cycling finished third in the highly competitive SoCal League, part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Assn., and earned its first victory in school history as then-sophomore Lucas Rowton won round two of the four race series held at the Keysville Recreation Area near Lake Isabella.
In a thrilling come from behind victory, Lucas closed a one-minute plus gap on the third and final lap of the 18-mile race and out sprinted Jessie Rodgers from the Santa Clarita based Hart District team. CV Cycling’s cumulative team score at that event placed them third of 19 teams and earned the team a podium position and coveted team award, another first in team history.
Rowton earned the teams’ first leaders jersey, awarded to the rider with the best cumulative series score. The team rode strong all season and recorded several top finishes by individual riders and finished the season on the podium in third overall, another first.
“It was extremely gratifying to see our team break through and earn the recognition for our hard work,” said Rowton. “For the previous one-and-a-half seasons we had been the team that was finishing just off of the podium and had been close every time. We had a lot of very happy and tired riders and coaches on that podium.”
CV Cycling’s 2012 season will continue through May 20 at the California State High School Championships in Los Olivos near Solvang. The state championship race features the best high school cyclists and pits southern California racers against the cream of the crop from the storied NorCal League, now in its 12th season.
Perhaps the most remarkable story of the team is its open enrollment policy. There is no tryout. No one is turned away, and a dedicated staff of volunteers has slowly crafted riders of varied experience levels into a cohesive, competitive and lively team.
“Many of our student athletes have not had great success or satisfaction in other sports they may have tried,” Rowton said. “In our sport everyone plays, and the kids quickly discover that effort, and consistency really pays off. What we really are teaching are life lessons about effort, determination, commitment and pushing yourself beyond what you thought was possible.”
CV Cycling’s administrative staff, GUSD teachers Jan Babington and Carol Pettegrew, was instrumental in establishing the program in the Glendale Unified School District. The team’s volunteer coaching staff consists of Montrose Bike Shop owner and 2012 Ca. State Cyclocross champion Jonathon Livesay, head coach Jim Rowton and lead coaches Ken Pratt, Banner Moffat, Dale Standel, Crystal Mendez, Sue Thompson, Bryan Yates and Geoff Mohan. Additional support provided by parent volunteers Marco Ivens and Alan Ackerman and Chris Waldheim.
Mountain bicycling can be an expensive sport and the team, funded entirely from donations, would not exist in its present form without generous sponsors.
Contributed by Geoffrey MOHAN