Laramie’s high school and middle school mountain bike team, 7220 Racing, is set to continue its season this weekend with conference championship races in Granby, Colorado.
The team competes in the Colorado High School Cycling League, which has grown over the last decade to include almost 2,000 athletes from 80 teams in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
Seniors Isa Naschold and Tristan Smith are leading the team, each competing in the highly competitive varsity division and recording podium finishes at their last race Sept. 26 in Eagle, Colorado.
Naschold finished second to Keira Bonds of Boulder, Colorado’s, Fairview High School during a neck-and-neck finale to the 18-mile event. They were both more than 3 minutes ahead of the third-place rider.
“I’m looking forward to this next race because we’re probably going to be battling it out again,” she said.
Naschold beat Bonds by 15 seconds and recorded the top finish during the first event of the season, an individual time trial Sept. 11 that served to sort riders into divisions because there was no in-person racing last year.
She has been participating in local youth mountain bike programs for years and said she hopes to continue racing on a collegiate club team after graduating next spring.
Smith finished fifth during the time trial, about 15 seconds behind the winner, and took third during the mass-start race in Eagle. He said his season started slowly as he was dealing with lingering sickness and fatigue from summer racing.
“I got excited again for how much fun the high school racing is, and I’ve been working out harder and getting excited for state,” he said.
He plans to keep training hard for another couple weeks before tapering in time for the state championship race Oct. 24 in Durango, Colorado. The top riders from each of the league’s four divisions will meet there for the first time.
“Hopefully by the time we get to state, I’ll be low fatigue and in high form and high fitness,” he said.
Smith competed in races around the region this summer and plans to keep racing collegiately next year, as well as explore the wide variety of races within the mountain bike world.
“I’m going to keep racing bikes,” he said.
Coach Cindy Dywan said the team has a couple dozen middle school and high school athletes this year, many of whom have been coming up through Laramie’s youth cycling programs.
“We’ve got a really strong group, and they continue to get stronger and stronger every year,” she said. “They’ve been riding and working on their skills for some time.”
Last year, the Colorado league didn’t hold in-person races and instead offered virtual challenges for teams to do remotely. Laramie’s team used the opportunity to camp together on several occasions.
“It’s fun to get back to traveling down to Colorado for the races, but also bittersweet because those weekends were super fun,” Dywan said.
Seventh-grader Dylan Rowe, who has been mountain biking for three years, said he’s looking forward to racing when he joins the high school ranks.
“I like mountain biking because it’s intense sometimes, and there’s a lot of things you can learn and try,” he said.
7220 Racing is in first place in Division 3 of the Platte Conference, ahead of the three other teams from Wyoming. The team trains on the Schoolyard Trails east of town during the week. On the weekends, it rides at Happy Jack, Curt Gowdy State Park or in the Snowy Range.