Esther Grow, a junior from Los Alamos high school, gets a 4e finished at Arizona Nordic Village in the second race of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association season. Courtesy photoTHE
Esther Grow lines up with other competitors at the start of the second NICA race of the season. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos High School junior James Tyldesley jockeys for an advantageous position at the front of the peloton at the start of the race. Courtesy photo
BY PAULA KNEPPER
Los Alamos MTB Team
Los Alamos High School juniors Esther Grow and James Tyldesley have been bitten by the mountain bike racing bug. There is no ointment to relieve this bite, only quality training and competitions to scratch that itch. Esther Grow and James Tyldesley, along with coaches, traveled to Northern Arizona Village to compete in the second National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) mountain bike race of the season on Saturday. Members of the Los Alamos Mountain Bike Team compete in the Northern Arizona NICA Conference against athletes representing 40 teams from Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona Nordic Village is a year round destination for outdoor enthusiasts, made up of an intricate network of stacked loops, perfect for mountain bikers and Nordic skiers, located in a high mountain environment 16 miles north -west of downtown Flagstaff.
Some 400 competitors ran up to four laps on a five-mile loop course depending on age, gender and ability. Starting at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, the athletes had a half mile to go to position themselves in the peloton before beginning an aspiring two-mile climb. The thin, dry air amplified the effects of the excruciating climb, leaving the athletes with no time to refuel or hydrate, instead focusing on breathing and filling their lungs with as much oxygen as possible. The athletes passed a village of canvas and wooden yurts before approaching the middle of the figure-eight loop.
Finding a second wind at the top, Esther Grow and James Tyldesley adapted into an attacking position. The last half of the loop was a steep single track downhill and tough eroded dual track athletes with deep flex wheel ruts. The key to getting down on a mountain bike quickly is to be fluid. Anticipating faster lines, getting out of bends, pumping rollers, taking inside lanes on bends and soaking up the terrain while standing on the pedals are all techniques practiced by members of the mountain bike team. de Los Alamos so that they are comfortable, relaxed and loose on the fast-paced descents. There was little opportunity to overtake the competitors on the descent, so any fuel left in the tank was used up during the final sprint to the finish line on a wide, smooth double track.
Esther Grow sprinted across the finish line in a finish photo. Esther took the 4e end the day in an extremely narrow race. James Tyldesley placed in the top ten with a 9e finish in an exceptionally competitive field.
Esther Grow and James Tyldesley are both fortunate enough to have discovered lifelong sport early in their lives. The athletes of the Los Alamos High School and Middle School Mountain Bike Team are energized by their successful season. These athletes appreciate being on the podium frequently; however, these athletes will ultimately enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of sport for a lifetime. The Los Alamos mountain bike team hopes to include even more athletes in the coming cycling seasons.
For those interested, the team is currently selling t-shirts as a fundraiser. Please consider supporting the team by purchasing a perfect t-shirt to ride around town or show your community spirit at https://www.customink.com/fundraising/la-mtn-bike-team-shirts-2906
Members of the Los Alamos High School and Middle School Mountain Bike Team will compete against each other on October 9 at Pioneer Park near Prescott, Arizona. For more information on the NICA, race results and upcoming races, please see https://arizonacycling.org/races-results/