By Cassady Rosenblum
Local athletes interested in becoming statewide champions need look no further than the Highlands Composite Bike Team, made up of middle schoolers and high schoolers from Tucker and Randolph County. Now in their fourth year, the young mountain bikers placed 1st in the state in 2018, 1st in 2019, and finished 3rd this season after a brief pandemic interlude.
Coach Todd Miller says that the league has continued to grow across the state, and is now comprised of 14 teams. This past season, the Highlands Composite Bike Team was one of the smaller teams in the league, and is looking to add new members to stay competitive. Miller says no prior experience is necessary. The co-ed team practices two to three times per week on local mountain bike trails, as well as the Allegheny Highlands Trail, focusing on technical mountain bike skills and endurance for beginning to advanced-level riders.
As a member of the West Virginia Interscholastic Cycling League (WVICL) and the non-profit National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), the team competes in 5 races held around the state, where over 200 male and female student athletes compete against other riders their age. Beyond building mountain bike and racing skills, the team emphasizes NICA’s goals of building strong body, mind and character, while ensuring that all athletes are treated equally and can fully participate in all practices and races.
This past season, the team came in first overall in the time trials at Canaan Valley Resort State Park, second in the Battle at Big Bear Lake, and third at Cacapon Resort State Park. Athletes raced hard but the team did not make the podium at North Bend State Park, and finished fourth at Twin Falls State Park. The team finished third overall for the season, beating teams from Morgantown, Kanawha, Putnam, Greenbrier and Harrison Counties, the New River Gorge and the Northern Panhandle. To celebrate their great season, the team recently gathered for one more fun ride at Blackwater Falls State Park, followed by an evening celebration with their families at the Elkins Bowling Recreation Center.
The team is sponsored by Allegheny Insurance, Appalachian Animal Hospital, Blackwater Bikes, Blue Ridge Risk Partners, Davis Medical Center, Elkins Physical Therapy Service, Jim Lively Insurance, Joey’s Bike Shop, Reckart Logistics, Red Creek Construction, Serendipity Gifts and Toys, Super Car Wash, and West Virginia Gastroenterology & Endoscopy.
To follow the team or inquire about joining the team as an athlete or coach for the 2022 season, go to https://www.facebook.com/highlandsmountainbiketeam/. Additional information on the WVICL and race results can be found at https://westvirginiamtb.org.