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New league cranks up local competition

By: Nick Pecoraro Gold Country News Service
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With the rapid growth of high school cycling teams in the Sierra foothills, county officials have decided to give the green light for a local racing series. A Saturday race will kick start the first of five mountain bike events in the inaugural Sierra Nevada High School Racing Series at the National Short Track Course at Granite Beach. More than 200 competitors from Folsom, Vista del Lago, Oak Ridge, Placer, Oakmont, Colfax, Nevada Union, Woodcreek, Sacramento Waldorf, Burbank and Union Mine are expected to compete for points in the NorCal Cycling League. One of the main advocates in bringing this kind of event to Northern California is Folsom High cycling coach Jason McMillen. “We’ve had a team (at Folsom High) since 2007 that has raced in a regional series for the NorCal Cycling League and the competition has been intense,” said McMillen, whose Folsom team has grown from seven members in 2007 to currently more than 40. “The Folsom Park and Recreation Department has been really supportive of area cycling and it has grown enough to where now we can have our own local series.” McMillen attended a Folsom Athletic Association meeting over the summer and learned that the youth soccer leagues in the area have more than 3,500 participants. “I thought that if I could just get 350 kids, 10 percent of what soccer gets, that it would be a great event,” McMillen added. McMillen and other local coaches convinced promoters to put on a series. “I hope to have fun during these races and the way Sierra league is set up, I can compete in this league and gain experience plus race in the NorCal league like previous years,” said Kyle Luther, a Folsom team member whom McMillen praises as one of his top racers. Registration for the series is open to all high school age students, regardless of experience. The series will continue with two cross-country races on Feb. 5 and 19, respectively, in Granite Bay before concluding during the weekend of March 11-13 at Rodeo Park in Folsom. For more general information or registration details, visit www.sierranevadamtb.org.