YONKERS, N.Y. – A high school mountain bike league has hit the ground rolling in Yonkers.
The New York High School Mountain Bike League kicked off its inaugural season Saturday inside Sprain Ridge Park as more than 60 high schoolers pedaled through the 3.4-mile course.
"Just one year ago, this league was a vision,” said Jason Cairo, league director and co-owner of the Endless Trail Bikeworx store in Dobbs Ferry. “We had a dream of bringing high school mountain bike racing to New York State. Today that dream became a reality and I think I speak on behalf of all of the coaches and volunteers when I say that today's turnout and positive energy far exceeded our expectations."
Based in Dobbs Ferry, the New York league is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the governing body of high school mountain biking in the United States. Featuring 10 leagues in nine states, the association’s members span from California to Tennessee.
In Yonkers, the league fielded teams from 12 high schools for its inaugural co-ed race, the Ridge-2-Ridge challenge, hailing from places such as Elmira, Lewisboro and Long Island. Organizers said the track inside Sprain Ridge, a 3.4-mile loop of pavement and dirt trails, was designed with the goal that even novice riders could complete the race.
Bikers were spilt into freshman, junior varsity and varsity groups for the competition, with individual finishes tallied and added to the team score.
At the end of the day, it was the bikers from Bronxville High School who were atop the standings.
Included among Bronxville’s top performers was 14-year-old Eli Sills who took home the win in the freshman grouping.
"I thought the course was really good," Sills, who spent the past few weeks practicing the course, told the league’s official website. "It was pretty dry in there, so that was nice."
The six-man team from John Jay High School in Lewisboro was also well-represented at the podium, finishing third in the team standings.
Coach Brittany Serra said the performance was a testament to the bikers hard work.
“We've been training hard and most of the kids already had one race under their belt,” she told the racing league. “I couldn't be more proud of these kids.”
Bronxville High School freshman Emma Waters also raced in the event, the only girl to do so. She said she hopes more girls will turn out to the league’s next race in Rosendale on June 2.
"Let's prove to the boys that we can do mountain biking just as well," she told the New York High School Cycling League.