Danielson leads Colorado High School League fundraising ride

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream)

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

The Colorado High School Cycling League is launching on Sunday, October 25 with a fundraising road ride led by former mountain biker Tom Danielson of the Garmin-Slipstream team. The ride departs at 9:00 am from the Bácaro Venetian Tavern in Boulder, Colorado.

As part of the recently formed National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the Colorado League is based on and supported by a long-running, successful high school mountain biking program established in California, where mountain bike racing has become a varsity high school sport. Funds from Sunday's ride will seed the early activity of the Colorado League.

"This is an exciting step for all of us. The Colorado League sits on a foundation of many years of work in the state of Colorado, which as we all know has a rich history in the sport of mountain biking, having been the site of the first UCI World Championship back in 1990 and again in 2001," said NICA Excutive Director Matt Fritzinger. "Enthusiasm for mountain biking has not missed a beat since then, and it makes great sense that the Colorado community should launch the first NICA League outside California."

Leagues in Northern and Southern California have been established since 2001 and 2008, respectively, and following the Colorado League launch will be one in Washington state. These four leagues will complete the first tranche of NICA regional chapters.

Colorado's mountain biking culture runs deep throughout the state. Numerous mountain bike racing heros including Ned Overend, Greg Herbold, Mike Kloser, Daryl Price, Travis Brown, Dave Wiens, Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan Kobelski, Jay Henry, Ruthie Matthes, Heather Irmiger, Alison Dunlap, and Julie Furtado started their careers in Colorado. The 2009 USA World Mountain Bike Championship Team was composed of 45 athletes, with 15 of them from Colorado.

The state is also home to several series in Colorado Springs, Winter Park, Crested Butte, and Summit County. More and more local events crop up every month, ranging from the opening of a new bike park to a new charity ride, and fat tire festivals abound from April through October. Several mountain bike industry innovators started in Colorado such as Rock Shox, Yeti, Maverick, Pearl Izumi, and CatEye.

Dave Wiens, one of the most accomplished of all the Colorado mountain bikers, said "It's fantastic, we're all really excited about this. There's a lot of buzz about this new league all over Colorado. Here in Gunnison, in Denver, for example, and at the Interbike trade show, I spoke to bicycle sales reps from across the state who were very excited about it. I can see a lot of high schools signing up to it."

The opening race of the first League season is planned for September 2010.

The Colorado High School Cycling League is currently recruiting founding board members. Interested individuals should contact League director Kate Rau at kate@coloradomtb.org.

For more information on the fundraiser, visit http://bacaro.com/Events.aspx.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.