As the entirety of the Utah High School Cycling League traveled to us to race their final ride on Oct. 18 and 19, Cedar City was a sight to be seen. The State Championship race was held at the Three Peaks Recreation area and was different than anything residents of Cedar City have seen before.
A total of 2,078 riders participated in this race, creating a diverse environment where all could feel at home. All riders raced the same track, one that was constructed by the city, especially for this event.
“We make sure that each course is designed for the different levels of riders that we have,” said Spencer Shaffer, founder of the Utah High School Cycling League. “All can participate, and all can race at the speed that they choose.”
A total of 72 teams participated throughout the course of the two days. Typically the league is divided into regions, but it being the State Championship race, all the regions raced at the same time. Almost every rider is accompanied by family members, creating an absolutely massive environment of families from all around Utah.
The league started out a lot smaller than it is now; it has grown profusely since it began in 2014 when it had less than 200 riders.
“I think it started out as a focus on the competitive elements of mountain biking, but it’s become a lot more than that,” said Paul Andersen, assistant coach of Corner Canyon High School. “What’s happening now, is a lot of students are joining the team because of the social side of it.”
The race brought in various athletic and food vendors, occupying the family members that were on the sidelines during the time the riders were on the track. There were also many flags waving the league’s core values: respect, excellence, teamwork, and community.
“It’s a guideline for life, really,” said Jakson Ewell, a graduated rider of three years. “We all want to have fun, but we also want to be kind to each other while we are having fun and pushing ourselves to the limit.”
The Utah High School Cycling races are organized for the fall season of each year. It is an inclusive environment known to welcome all and provides students a way to build a strong body, mind, and character.
“I’ve made some great friendships being a part of this,” said Ewell. “It’s just a great way to live.”
Review by: Kylee Shaffer
Photo courtesy of: Kylee Shaffer