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Orange County high school mountain bike racing blooming

Leave it to Orange County racers to add a touch of style to their race kits!
Leave it to Orange County racers to add a touch of style to their race kits!
Andy Somerville

Like a fragile seedling that sprouts into a sturdy sapling, after six years of cultivation and care, high school mountain biking is firmly established and blooming in Orange County.

The seed was planted back in 2008 with the start-up of the SoCal High School Cycling League. The league's mission: to establish a quality high school mountain bike racing program offering students an alternative to traditional campus based sports.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Easton Foundation and the hard work of scores of volunteers, March 2009 saw the first ever high school mountain bike race held in Southern California. Among the 70 racers toeing the start line that day were six Orange County student athletes representing three area high schools: Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor and San Juan Hills.

The number of high school teams has grown each year since. The sixth season kicks off this month at Lake Perris, and over 400 racers are expected to participate, including more than 50 students from Orange County. Local high schools represented include Foothill, El Toro, Trabuco Hills, Tustin and Corona del Mar. Independent and home-schooled athletes can also compete by registering directly with the league.

And, in a league first, middle schoolers can get in on the action as well, at two special races that will run adjacent to the high school events.

Interested families are encouraged to contact the league for more information. Come check out a race for yourself and see why high school mountain biking has taken root in Orange County!