By Geri Kinsley
|Zoe Dunn and Hannah Madler ready to try the trail ride in Chino Valley.|
Photo courtesy Geri Kinsley
|Zoe Dunn, Daisy Ward, Hannah Madler, Monique Pua Mata Ready to start the 24-hours in the Old Pueblo Race held near Oracle, Arizona.|
Special to the Tribune
A 24-hour mountain bike race might seem like something only elite athletes could do, but three freshman girls from northern Arizona just returned from completing the 24-hour Old Pueblo Race near Oracle, in southern Arizona.
Hannah Madler from Bradshaw Mountain High School, Zoë Dunn, Chino Valley High School, and Daisy Ward from Flagstaff, who attends Laurel Springs Online School, participated in a recent promotion for the new Arizona High School Cycling League.
The girls were selected after answering a series of essay questions about their racing and riding experience and their future goals in cycling.
The winning girls joined seven-time national mountain bike champion Monique Pua Mata on a four-person relay team for the race that had 1,850 participants.
Mata's professional racing team, Sho-Air/Cannondale, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, AHSCL, Carmichael Training Systems, and many others sponsored the girl's team.
The race started at noon on Saturday, Feb. 16, and ended at noon Sunday, Feb. 17. The girls raced relay style, taking turns completing 16-mile laps on the desert trails throughout the 24-hour period.
"We were never alone on the 16-mile loop," said Dunn. "It started out at the exchange tent, which proceeded on to a dirt road that went to a single-track trail, then to a pipeline with some steep up and down slopes."
Four flat tires, Mata feeling sick, and encounters with cactus were all part of the challenges.
"We pulled another cactus needle out of Hannah yesterday," said her mother Tracy Madler.
"Yet, the girls came away successful. Though they didn't win the race, they gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about professional mountain bike racing, nutrition, learned new skills, and how to persevere when times get tough," said Zoë's mother, Janice Dunn. "The goal of forming the team was to give the girls an experience of a lifetime with a female professional mountain bike racer so they would promote mountain bike racing in their high schools."
Bradshaw Mountain High School has a mountain bike club and Chino Valley High School has formed a club that will begin practices in April.
Other high schools in the Prescott area, including North Point High School and Canyon View Preparatory Academy already have mountain bike clubs that plan to race next fall in the AHSCL series.
Janice Dunn is planning assemblies this spring to promote the club at CVHS and Heritage Middle School. Any high school aged boy or girl may join the bike clubs and participate in the opening season of the AHSCL this fall. No previous racing experience is required. All the clubs are looking for coaches and other adults to help.
The League provides extensive training for coaches and ride leaders, both online and in AHSCL Leaders' Summit events taking place in March and April.
"Chino Valley is a hard place to find kids to ride. Many kids have bikes with flats and there is no bike shop in town to help with repairs," said Janice Dunn. "We are hoping to have a fix-a-flat day at the beginning of the summer to help all kids that need their flat tires repaired here in Chino, and to promote the new mountain bike club."
Both mothers said the families had just as much fun as the girls did during their experience at the 24-hour race.