With a rush, dozens of bikers push away from the starting line, cycling hard to gain a good position on the narrow trails. For the next six hours, waves of Varsity, JV, Sophomore and Freshman riders — both boys and girls — will climb hills, cross streams, ride over rocks, and careen down steep trails as they compete to cross the finish line.
This was the first season of competition for the Oakland Tech Mountain Biking team. Prior to 2018, Tech students competed as part of the Oakland Composite team, with schools from across Oakland. Now, with seven riders, Tech has qualified to compete as its own team in NICA – the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Over the past three months, Tech students have competed at courses from Fort Ord in Monterey to Six Sigma Ranch in Lake County. All students compete on the same course – typically a 5-6 mile loop – but riders complete a different number of laps depending on their level. For most students, completing the challenging 12-24 mile race is a big accomplishment.
Aden Lounds, a sophomore, joined the team this season after watching her older sister, Emily, compete with Oakland Composite. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to race,” said Aden, “but I decided to give it a try and I’m surprised by how much I like it. The team and the other riders are so supportive and I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I finish.”
Desmond Griffith and Finn Capurro-Durkee, both seniors, have competed for the past four years. “I’m really going to miss the team,” said Finn, “biking has been such a great part of my Tech experience.”
“I’ve loved biking,” added Desmond, “because it’s helped me get in great physical shape. I’ve been surprised, though, by how it’s also helped strengthen my mind. I’ve learned a lot from biking.”
Students practice several times a week – spinning indoors at CruFit when it’s raining or hitting the trails in Redwood Regional Park. For kids without bikes, NICA provides loaner bikes. The team is petitioning now to get PE credit like other sports at Tech.
Devin Lounds started as a coach for the Oakland Composite team three years ago and now coaches the Tech team. “It’s been a pleasure coaching and mentoring these awesome student athletes. Mountain biking is a great way to spend time in nature, and teaches lessons around hard work, self sufficiency and preparation that will pay off in college and beyond.”
“Being on the biking team has been a great experience,” added sophomore Lanie Goldberg. “The trails can seem a little daunting, but then I’m always amazed at what I’m able to do once I get on my bike.”
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