James Tyldesley holding his lead while being chased by a competitor at the 4th NICA race of the season. Courtesy photo
Esther Grow in a desert of Saguaros racing to the finish at the White Tank Mountain Bike Race on Sunday Courtesy photo
BY PAULA KNEPPER
Los Alamos High And Middle School
Mountain Bike Team
Esther Grow and James Tyldesley, juniors at Los Alamos High School, competed in the fourth and final regular season National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) mountain bike race at White Tank Regional Park located west of Phoenix, AZ on Sunday. A solid performance at this race was a prerequisite for a coveted invitation to the AZ NICA High School State Championship as well as the last opportunity to earn overall series points.
The five-mile loop was punctuated by several large washes and multiple “g-out” drainage crossings. “G-outs” are typically steep walled drainages that are difficult to see in advance and will fully compress the bike’s suspension. This type of feature can leave a racer in a vulnerable position as the racer is unable to absorb additional immediate features after fully compressing the bike’s suspension. The fast race course at White Tank kept the nearly 400 youth cyclists looking forward so that they were anticipating these unexpected steep drainage crossings and other obstacles.
The AZ heat took its toll on the Los Alamos athletes racing midday with temperature soaring into the low 90s. Saguaros provided just a bit of shade from the intense desert sun. Despite, the adverse conditions both Grow and Tyldesley finished in the top ten qualifying them to compete in the NICA Arizona State Championships. Esther Grow finished in 5th place in a very tight field. Tyldesley finished in 10th place in a field dominated by a large competitive high school team.
Riding solo in a team event provides an additional layer of complexity. Hopefully, in future years the Los Alamos High and Middle School Mountain Bike Team will build a team of competitive athletes able to work as a team in these events and better yet, compete closer to home.
Grow earned 4th place for the overall AZ NICA mountain biking series and Tyldesley earned the 10th place overall position. Both Grow and Tyldesley had incredible seasons in fields of extremely competitive and talented youth cyclists.
The Arizona State Championships will be held at Wren Arena, Fort Huachuca on November 7th. For results and race details please see https://my.raceresult.com/184462/results