Miners pedal to podium | TheUnion.com

Miners pedal to podium

They were warned in advance to be prepared … the heat would be unseasonably intense.

And still they came to a place without water, where the rocks reflected the sun’s heat back towards their faces, and the dust lay thickly over the trails and suspended in the air.

Yet, this was where they wanted to be, at the Mountain Biking State Championships at Bogg’s Mountain, in northern Napa Valley. Many families arrived early, parking their trailers or setting up tents in anticipation of an evening of pleasant conversation and fellowship.

They came by the hundreds, and soon the area was humming with athletes tuning their mountain bikes, swapping stories of past races and tracking down friends from other teams. Yes, these are competitive athletes, but first they share a love of the sport which transcends all rivalries. The preparation for Sunday’s race had begun.

In many ways, Sunday’s race was like the others, six to 24 miles in length, with a mix of exhausting uphill climbs, flat recoveries, and exhilarating downhills which tested the bikers’ skills. Because it was the final race of the season, however, the Nevada Union athletes prepared for it with a seriousness which showed in the results.

Repeating her first place performance for the sixth time since the beginning of the season was sophomore Christine Weir, finishing her 18-mile course with a dominating performance of 1:50, a full eight minutes ahead of her nearest rival, Lainely Aldridge from Harbor. With the finish, Weir retained her leader’s jersey for the entire season. On the 12-mile, two-lap course, Jillian Downs came in 17th among the JV girls, while Maya Ramos was 23rd for the freshmen.

For varsity boys, leading the NU riders over the 24-mile, 4-lap course was Chris Convis with a time of 1:30, only a minute behind the first place finisher, Daniel Boyes from Marin Academy. Following closely behind Chris was Greg Hermansen in ninth place, with a time of 1:35.

Casey Sanchez, churning up the three lap 18-mile trail, turned in a fourth-place finish for the 40 riders competing in the JV race, followed by David Lowe (ninth), Frank Piner (11th), Trevor Thomassen (17th), Buddy Newman (28th), and Trung An (35th).

For the sophomore boys, Ben Prairie was first for Nevada Union in 13th place, followed by Tyler Hayes (22nd), and Evan Thibodeau (29th); also competing over the 18 mile course were Julian Smallwood, Max Floyd, and Ben Keck.

In a field of 35 freshmen boys, Mason Bond (seventh) once again led Nevada Union with a time of 1:04, closely pursued 45 seconds later by teammate Eric Green (eighth); Andrew Smith (12th), Brian Biersdorff (14th), Jeremiah Newman (17th), Lucas Turner (19th), and Henry Alkire (31st) also competed for NU over the 12-mile course.

Over the six-race season, the NU freshmen boys turned in a stellar performance, capturing ninth (Jeremiah Newman), 10th (Mason Bond), 11th (Eric Green), 12th (Brian Biersdorff), 13th (Lucas Turner) and 15th (Andrew Smith), a solid achievement which bodes well for the future of NU mountain biking.

Out of 10 Division I teams, Nevada Union placed third for the state and for the season, a strong showing for a young team, most of whom will be returning next year for competition in the NorCal league.

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