Miller School Hosts Growing Mountain Bike Race

By: Ruth Morton Email
By: Ruth Morton Email

April 22, 2014

Students from around Virginia competed in cycling race in Albemarle County.

The Miller School hosted a race for the Virginia High School Mountain Bike Race Series.

Miller's home course is the third stop on the five-race schedule.

"Our goal here is to turn mountain biking into a traditional high school sport," said Peter Hufnagel, the series director. "We want the mountain bikers to feel the same way a football player feels on Friday night when he runs out into the stadium."

Miller school started the series in 2010, hosting the first cycling race on its campus, Hufnagel explained.

About 130 riders from elementary to high school competed on Miller's home course.

"It's growing. It's expanding year by year, so we're really ambitious and enthusiastic to think that three or four years from now, we'll come out to races here at the Miller School and instead of 120 kids, there'll be 520 kids. And really, really, get every junior athlete in the country, have this be a viable option for what they can do in high school sport," said Andy Guptill, Director of Miller School Cycling.

Elementary school racers and friends Caleb Nevins, Tyler Corliss, and Autumn Corliss biked one 3.5 mile lap.

"It's fun," said Corliss.

"We love biking," said Bartels, smiling and jerking her arms out to emphasize her point.

"It's about the fun, not the winning. More about the fun," Corliss added.

"Yeah," agreed Bartels.

JV riders biked two laps, or seven miles, and Varsity riders biked three laps, or fourteen.

Older students enjoyed the progress they've made in mountain biking.

"Riding every day, enjoying and developing skills, just helps us want to become better riders every day," said seventh place finisher and Miller School Varsity cyclist Leo Yip, who has been a road cyclist until starting mountain biking at Miller a year ago.

"I was just not that great at cycling and then I came here to the school and, within a year, I was really serious about it," said eighth place finisher and Miller Varsity cyclist Chris Derby.

Student improvement has surpassed high school medals.

"We've actually just graduated two to the professional rank," said Hufnagel.

One of those in the professional ranks now is Jake King, who won the boy's varsity race. King credited Hufnagel and Guptill coaches at Miller for helping him improve since he was his first race in 9th grade.

"My first mountain bike race, in 9th grade here with the Miller school, I think I got close to last place," said King. "It really is a testament to how well Andy Guptill and Peter Hufnagel kind of are developing riders here, and just the support and attitude, keep the riders in the sport, loving the sport, and we'll keep doing it forever, keep improving."

Having signed a pro contract, King may soon compete against his brother, pro cyclist and Tour de France hopeful, Ben King. Ben King attended Tuesday's race, which students appreciated.

"It's really cool having Ben King here," said Derby. "Having that kind of support like him just cheering us on is really cool."

"I think everyone here wants to be a professional one day and be like Ben as an icon," said Yip.

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