Sunday, February 23, marks the start of the 2014 SoCal High School Cycling League season at Lake Perris Recreation Area in Riverside, California. Jenson USA, one of the nation’s largest retailers of bicycles, parts and accessories, has pledged its support to the five-race mountain bike racing series for high school aged boys and girls as a Silver Level sponsor for the entire year.
Jenson USA founder and CEO, Michael Cachat, remarked, “The growth and future of mountain biking depends greatly upon introducing youngsters to the sport through organized events like the SoCal High School Cycling League. Not only do these young cyclists benefit from well supervised instruction and education from certified coaches, but they are exposed to a healthy and active lifestyle that carries with them into adulthood. As a cycling enthusiast myself, I know how important it is to learn these lessons early. I’m very pleased that Jenson USA is taking an active role in supporting this effort to spread a love of mountain biking to high school students throughout Southern California.”
The SoCal High School Cycling League, which is spearheaded by executive director, Matt Gunnell, is experiencing impressive growth across southland schools. Approaching the start of its sixth season, active riders number nearly five-hundred representing more than fifty teams. “Mountain bike competition is one of the fastest growing sports among high school aged students,” commented Gunnell as he and his staff get ready for the “Beach to Boulders” competition at Lake Perris Recreation Area this coming weekend. We are preparing a challenging five-mile course over sand, dirt and grass plus a significant climb to really test endurance. Depending on their grade level and classification, cyclists will race from two to five laps over rugged terrain. We are also offering and encouraging participants the opportunity to pre-ride the course on Saturday afternoon or early Sunday morning. And you don’t necessarily have to be a member of a specific high school mountain biking team to participate. Independent student cyclists are also welcome to compete.”
“The SoCal High School League was organized in 2008 and is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) that organizes and conducts mountain bike races in multiple states including Texas, New York, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Arizona, Tennessee and Northern California. The purpose of NICA is to emphasize skills education, proper techniques and a healthy approach to riding and racing. In addition, NICA aggressively promotes safety, responsible riding and a committed philosophy to trails advocacy. “If we’re going to be good stewards of the outdoors and wilderness areas that we ride on, we have to know how to sustain and nurture the environment in order to support our sport,” said Gunnell. “Leaving the smallest possible footprint on nature is all part of being a good rider.”
“We’re also very excited about launching our new middle school program in 2014,” continued Gunnell. “This will afford youngsters in grades six, seven and eight with a chance to form school teams and ride in similar competitions. Our first event for middle schoolers, Carving Canyons, is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, 4pm followed by high school grades racing on Sunday at Sycamore Canyon Park in Riverside, California which is immediately adjacent to Jenson USA’s corporate headquarters. It should be a great event and a fine way to kick-off our introduction of mountain biking to middle school age children.”
“The SoCal High School League is definitely on the right track when it comes to getting youth involved in mountain biking,” said Cachat. “Youngsters naturally enjoy bicycling as a physical activity. What’s missing many times, however, is a lack of supervision and structure which these events, clinics and camps provide. The importance of learning to ride properly and safely thanks to the SoCal High School Cycling League can’t be emphasized enough. Qualified mentors are the key to success and the future of the sport. Since the SoCal High School Cycling League does not rely on government funding, it’s incumbent upon us in the mountain biking industry to help support the operation of this effort. That’s why Jenson USA got involved in sponsorship to do our part.”
For those planning to attend the “Beach to Boulders” race on February 23 at Lake Perris Recreation Center, exit Highway 215 near Perris at Ramona Expressway/Cajalco Expressway and head east. Turn north on Lake Perris Drive. Enter the park (get a map if available) and continue east onto Alta Calle. Camping and infield area for participants and spectators are near the intersection of Alta Calle and Transition Road. Non-camping vehicles are charged $5 per day at gate as you enter the park.
For additional information about the SoCal High School Cycling League, please visit socaldirt.org.