This year, the Littleton mountain biking team is the largest it has ever been since its was started in 2014. The Littleton team consists of 22 LHS students, including seniors Breighton Miller, Christian Rodriguez, Fernando Ibarra, and Ethan Garret. The team is coached by Christine Snider, a 1897 LHS graduate.
The Littleton team is part of the Colorado High School Cycling League, a part of National Interscholastic Cycling Association. The current Littleton team is a composite team of student in the area, with 17 from Littleton High School, 2 from Kunsmiller, 2 from Littleton Academy, and 1 from St. Mary’s Academy. The Littleton team trains with the 18 riders from the Heritage team as well.
LHS riders with friends on the Heritage team
“Heritage and Littleton are practically one team so, it’s practically no different that we are separate now. Everyone is super nice to each other and sometimes I forget that we are on different teams because it’s such a close group. Everyone from both teams are always super supportive of each other,” said senior Breighton Miller.
“The LHS team is known for accepting riders from schools that do not have teams. What a great representation of the LHS spirit!” said team director Trent Miller.
Riders practice for approximately 2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Depending on how long riders practice on their own, students usually ride between 16 and 30 miles a week. Practices take place around the west side of Littleton in places such as the Deer Creek Open Space, Green Mountain Park, Bear Creek Park, and South Valley Open Space.
“We try to practice at these areas due to the similar types of trails and obstacle that are found here as compared to the race courses. From there we break down into groups based upon the rider’s biking ability. Then we go ride with some days focusing on mountain biking skills and other days working on hills or just good long hard rides. Then we have a fun get together on some weekends where we try to go somewhere new,” said director Miller.
Before 2017, mountain biking was not recognized as a club or activity at Littleton High School. In 2017, Assistant Principle Travis Amonson and science teacher Mike Montgomery helped mountain biking become a sport. Since then, the club sport has been advertising at freshmen orientations and in the 2017 Homecoming parade to increase membership.
“In general, the increased visibility has helped us a lot. We have kids, parents, and even teachers come up to us and say that they didn’t even know there was even a mountain biking league, let alone a team at LHS. Once they hear about it, many want to get involved, with many parents saying ‘I wish they had this when I was in high school’. Also, mountain biking in general is exploding all over the region and this is just another way to get kids out and be active. Plus, this is one of the few high school sports which you can continue to do until you are way past 70 year old,” said Trent Miller.
Also this year, senior Breighton Miller is the first LHS student to become a Legacy Rider. Competitors earn this title after competing all four years of high school. Legacy Riders are given a special race position that signifies this accomplishment. Miller was the first rider to ever represent LHS in Mountain Biking, and has qualified for the State Championship Race four years in a row. Littleton mountain biking anticipates current sophomore Clara Landreth as its first female Legacy Rider in two years.
First LHS legacy rider senior Breighton Miller
During the season, there are five races, four of which are regular season, and the final which is the State Championship race for those who qualify. Students compete in one of the following divisions: boys or girls varsity, junior varsity, sophomore, and freshmen.
“We have several kids who were never athletic, but they could ride a bike. They are now completing mountain biking races that are over 12 miles long with a lot of climbing involved. And the best part is that they finish with a huge smile on their face knowing that they have accomplished something that is pretty awesome”, said Trent Miller.
Each course is about 6.0 to 6.5 miles long, composed of laps with between 500 and 800 feet of climbing, and other natural obstacles such as rocks, roots, sand, and more. As the division level increases, so does the number of laps. Riders compete non-stop for 90-120 minutes.
“It takes a lot of energy and stamina to race. In most other sports you aren’t going 100 percent for the entire game. There are breaks in between points but mountain biking is a race so its all out of the entire race,” said rider Breighton Miller.
Littleton Mountain Biking will compete again October 6 at the Conference Championship in Eagle, the final race before the State Championship October 20-21.