Over 800 Cyclists Return May 5th and 6th 2018
Flash-back to April 2017…
Visible tension came through the crowd as 1st and 2nd place pushed into the final turn before the finish. With less than a hundred yards to go, there was no doubt that the first man into the turn would be the first man out and across the finish line. So they came in hot, hard on the brakes as tires strained to keep traction on the loose gravel… until one gave it up. The inside man lost grip on his front wheel, which led his slide into the outside man, and both disappeared under the ribbons marking the track. Then the man in 3rd saw his chance, wasting no time for the two to get back on their bikes. With poise and control inspired by what he’d just seen, he came in and out of the final turn and flung himself to the finish line with calves pumping like pistons on a steam engine. Just like that, the top three spots on the podium were settled, leaving dust from the wreckage still in my eyes when the third man crossed.
But that wasn’t the most remarkable thing I saw last year at the first annual Six Sigma Slinger. Though 800 students raced that weekend, some of them already competing for professional points, my favorite moment happened after the race. Just as the last person crossed the line, all the students put down their bikes and began to clean up the place. They took down the ribbons and railings. They collected all the trash. All of them sweaty and some of them blood-stained, each one jumped in to leave the ranch as clean as they found it.
“How do you get them to do that?” I asked one of the race coordinators, unable to disguise my surprise. “That’s easy,” she said. “Nobody gets a prize before the place is spotless.”
And that summarized our experience hosting the Nor-Cal High School Cycling League. Eight hundred students and about 2,000 parents were the most courteous group we could have imagined. From student warm-ups in the driveway to parents meeting with friends between races at our tasting room, we didn’t have a single unpleasant interaction during the weekend.
“Nobody gets a prize before the place is spotless.” The statement stuck in my mind. With a culture like that surrounding High School Mountain Biking, I suspect these kids are learning more than just climbing and cadence. They’re learning life. And they’re welcome back any time.
PS God willing, the racing will return to Six Sigma Ranch this year, as we host the 2018 Six Sigma Slinger on May 5th and 6th. See www.NorCalMTB.org for details, and come on out to the ranch.