Titans and Bears compete in MTN Biking Champs

Titans and Bears join Glenwood Dirt Demons at Championship Race
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(Photo Credit Andrew Rydland Photography)
When the Glenwood Springs High School Dirt Demons go climbing up and flying down the mountain side this weekend at the Colorado League High School Mountain Biking State Championships, they will be joined by two Coal Ridge Titans and a Rifle Bear.


Coal Ridge’s Samantha Meskin and Asher Nichols and Rifle’s Max Mundelin have qualified for the state competition under the flag of GSHS — Meskin as the top Sophomore female from the Crystal Region.

 

“It's a lot of pressure,” said Samantha of this weekend’s race. “I mean, it feels good that my efforts have yielded something amazing, but it’s a lot of pressure when I go into races because I want to do well, and I want to keep that title.”


This is the first year that the Garfield Re-2 high schools have officially joined forces with the Dirt Demons. The Coronavirus hampered the initial interest in collaborating, said Coal Ridge High School science teacher and mountain biking coach Arthur Philipson.


“We joined with Glenwood in the summer of 2020, and had hoped to compete with them in their 2020 season, but with COVID it was a rough year,” said Philipson. “We ended up doing a modified season where we were learning the ropes and trying to become a part of the existing team.”


And out of some mountain biking fun, evolved the collaborative full-on race season.


United States Bicycling Hall of Famer Jeanne Golay is the head coach of the Dirt Demons. She explained that taking in riders from other communities and incubating future teams has been a hallmark of the GSHS team.


“We have a history of cultivating other successful high school programs,” she explained of the six-year old mountain biking program. ”When we started in 2015, there was a team in Aspen and at Colorado Rocky Mountain School and then we helped launch a team in Basalt and Roaring Fork.” (Basalt has since merged with Aspen).


Though Meskin is hopeful that Garfield Re-2 can have a team of their own before she graduates, she is excited to have an outlet for her passion.Asher


“I've been mountain biking since eighth grade, but I didn't get serious about it until freshman year, because I thought it was just for fun. I wasn't super serious about competition because I didn't really like it. This year was my first year competing and it totally revived the competitive drive for me”


Meskin loves to escape to a world on two-wheels.


“It is an escape for me. I have so much going on with school and stuff when I'm riding my bike, the only thing I can think about is my heart pounding in my chest and how bad my legs hurt. I can't think about school or friends or drama - just my bike. I also really like just the exercise part of it and seeing my progression and how much stronger I've gotten. My times are crazy different from last year, and that's just super cool to see.”


Golay says Meskin is reaping the success of hard work.


“She’s killin’ it. She’s a fast mountain biker,” said Golay. “State is a bigger race so it will be fun to see how strong the Crystal Region is in the state.”


In addition to her riding, Meskin and many other teammates have participated in building trails.


“I did some trail building last summer for the Grand Hogback trails in Rifle. I try to get out there if I can, because I'm helping to build trails that I know I'm going to ride and that others will ride. I'm riding trails right now that people have volunteered to build. So I like to help if I can.”


MaxMountain bikers will compete on Saturday and Sunday in Durango. There are four categories:: freshmen (boys and girls), sophomores (boys and girls), Junior Varsity (boys and girls) and Varsity (boys and girls). Both Nichols and Mundelin will ride in the Sophomore boys competition.


Phillipson and Golay added that while the season may be over, they are always interested in involving more youth in the sport of mountain biking.


“Anyone can join the team. You can be on the team, but don’t have to race. We have several students that ride with us, but don’t race,” said Golay. 


The new trail systems in both Rifle and New Castle create opportunities for both Glenwood and “down valley” practices, and she added that there are enough coaches to keep instruction small at one coach to eight riders.


Garfield Re-2 students (Rifle High School or Coal Ridge High School) interested in joining the mountain bike team should email Arthur Philipson at [email protected]. Good luck to all of the racers this weekend.
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