High school club finally cranking

Placer Foothill Mountain Bike Club welcomes all levels of riders
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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It’s not hard to tell Marianne Levine is a kid at heart. So it only makes sense that local high school students would catch on to her favorite hobby. The Placer Foothill Mountain Bike Club’s genesis is as simple as that. “I was having so much fun riding my mountain bike with my friends in the canyon, I thought it would be a great thing for kids to do,” Levine said. The actual formation of the club was a little more complicated. But after filing piles of paperwork, raising thousands of dollars and spreading the word throughout the foothills, the club is up and cranking. There are now 14 members of the Placer Foothill Mountain Bike Club, which is open to high school students from Roseville to Colfax and everywhere in between. “It’s pretty cool to have a club that’s local, where anyone can join,” said Colfax High sophomore Julie Barton, who has turned in some impressive results early this season. “It’s been really fun getting to know other people who ride.” Levine and a team of ride leaders guide the kids on local trail rides a couple of times each week. The training is all in preparation for competition in the NorCal High School Racing League and other events around the region. Many club members are racing in the Prairie City Race Series on Wednesday nights and several are gearing up for the grueling Coolest 24 next month. The NorCal High School Racing League has been around since 2001 and now features 33 teams. Many are school-sponsored teams, but the Placer Foothills club is not associated with just one school. Levine and fellow Auburnite Chris Townzen initially approached faculty members at Placer High in an effort to get the club going on the Auburn campus. She ran into administrative roadblocks along the way and opted to make the club an independent venture with no official ties to the school. “It meant we could invite other kids from Forest Lake (Christian), Colfax, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville and even home-schooled kids,” Levine said. “After that it started taking off.” Many Auburn businesses, including all three local bike shops, pitched in to help. The club held a movie night fundraiser in December and raised thousands of dollars to pay league fees, non-profit organization fees and have all the ride leaders trained in CPR. “It’s exciting to see how the community has come together,” Levine said. “The bike shops have all wanted to make this happen. We’ve gotten a lot of help and sometimes we didn’t even ask for it.” Levine said the club’s first official ride on Jan. 9 was the culmination of almost three years of waiting. She believes the Placer Foothill club could develop into a juggernaut, like the team at Drake High School in Marin County, which boasts more than 50 riders. “I expect it to grow quite a bit,” Placer freshman Cole West said. The Placer Foothill team had a modest showing at its NorCal League debut last month. West took 35th out of 50 in the Frosh Division II race. Barton finished third in the girls sophomore race while Lance Ulmer, a home-schooled student from Roseville, placed 39th in the boys JV Division II event. Levine believes the results will come with time, but now it’s about building a foundation for the team. Club members do not have to race. They’re all given the club’s neon green and black jersey with the $100 registration fee and scholarships are available. The club’s promise is a thrill for Levine, who is a native of Sweden and has lived in Auburn with her husband Steve for a decade. “I couldn’t live in the flatlands,” Levine said. “We love Auburn. I’m in the canyon almost every day. Kids need a purpose and I think the (mountain bike club) is a great thing for them to do to stay out of trouble and enjoy the best part of Auburn.”