In preparation for the 2014 SoCal High School Cycling League season opener this coming February 23rd at Lake Perris Recreation Area, Jenson USA, one of the nation’s largest retailers of bicycles, parts and accessories, has signed on as a Silver Level sponsor for the year. The SoCal High School Cycling League conducts a five-race series for high school (grades 9 through 12) student athletes fostering both team and individual competition on a variety of challenging mountain biking courses and trails. The League is committed to teaching young cyclists the importance of safe riding practices and a deep respect for the wilderness.
“The SoCal High School League was organized in 2008, and our first competition was held in spring 2009,” remarked Matt Gunnell, the League’s executive director. “Our growth has been rather remarkable. We’re now about to begin our sixth season and the number of unique riders has increased from 106 to over 400 in that short span of time. We anticipate this number will grow to be in excess of 500 cyclists representing as many as fifty different teams by the conclusion of the 2014 series. As evidenced by its burgeoning popularity, mountain bike racing is definitely a sport enjoyed by high school age students. The League exists to afford these youth with an alternative opportunity to engage in an organized and supervised outdoor physical activity that promotes better health and fitness. Whether they participate in more traditional high school sports programs or not, mountain bike racing undeniably appeals to a diverse cross-section of male and female adolescents.”
“As a company, we are very committed to doing everything possible to promote mountain biking to our youth,” said Michael Cachat, founder and CEO of Jenson USA. “The SoCal High School Cycling League has made impressive strides in introducing organized mountain bike competition to high schools throughout Southern California. Not only do they provide a structured racing format, but they insist on licensed coaches to execute their program. With their vision and dedication, I see mountain bike racing becoming a mainstream high school sport in the future.”
With education budgets being tight, it is important to know that League high school mountain bike teams are self-sustaining. “Our race series does not rely on traditional high school athletic funding in order to conduct races,” says Gunnell. “The League relies on independent fund raising and the support of our sponsors like Jenson USA to run the operation. We’re very fortunate to have such generous partners who believe in the value of the sport and the student athletes.”
Gunnell continued, “ In 2014, the League is also launching a pilot program for middle schools. The plan is to hold two races this coming year, our first-ever for middle school riders will be at Sycamore Canyon in Riverside which is immediately adjacent to Jenson USA’s corporate headquarters.”
The SoCal High School Cycling League is a part of the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) with active Leagues in Texas, New York, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Arizona, Tennessee and Northern California.
For additional information about the SoCal High School Cycling League, please visit socaldirt.org.
Photo credit: Phil Beckman / PB Creative