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High school bikers racing for championships this weekend in Durango

Volunteers still needed to help with event
Ivan Sippy of Durango High School wins the Colorado Cycling League high school mountain bike state junior varsity race back in 2019 at Durango Mesa. On Sunday, Sippy will compete for a varsity title. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Nearly 900 mountain bikers will descend on Durango Mesa this weekend for the Colorado High School Cycling League’s state championships. Teams from New Mexico, Wyoming and South Dakota will also race for titles.

“This is a fantastic event to have in Durango and show off what we have to offer,” said Durango Devo executive director and high school coach Levi Kurlander. “I’m looking forward to some good racing.”

The riders will be able to pre-ride the course on Friday. On Saturday, half the championships will be contested, and the second half will take place Sunday.

The course is a 6.44-mile loop and features 664 feet of elevation gain. The varsity competitors will do three laps, and the other divisions will complete two laps.

“It’s a little longer than other courses in the series with a little more climbing,” Kurlander said.

The course also features a figure-8 design with an overpass in the middle so spectators can watch the bikers pedal by multiple times in the same lap.

“That was by design,” said Gaige Sippy, who is part of the event’s local organizing committee. “We wanted to make it as spectator friendly as possible.”

With the trail being on private property, however, most of it hasn’t been ridden since the 2019 state championships. Last year’s season was canceled because of the pandemic.

To prepare the course, Durango Trails has worked on the dirt, cleared brush and whacked weeds.

“Durango Trails spent the week out there getting it ready, and they got it dialed in,” Sippy said.

Durango will be represented by four bikers who finished as the Piedra division’s point leaders after the three regular-season races, including Bailey Cioppa (varsity girls), Ivan Sippy (varsity boys), Liam Bezek (sophomore boys) and Chase Connors (freshman boys).

“The varsity races will be very competitive,” Sippy said, adding that the team has “really strong riders” in the freshman boys and sophomore boys races.

Durango also won all three of the Piedra’s division 1 team titles during the regular season, and will compete with three other teams that matched the feat in the Platte, Crystal and Yampa divisions: Boulder, Fairview, which is also in Boulder, and Colorado Rocky Mountain from Carbondale.

“It always comes down to bragging rights between Durango and Boulder,” Sippy said.

In division 3, Animas won all three of its races and will battle the Aspen/Basalt composite team, Estes Park, Nederland, Laramie and also as Piedra rival Pagosa Springs for the team title.

Some more volunteers are also needed to help with the event.

Out of 302 volunteer shifts, 234 had been filled as of Thursday evening. People interested in helping out can register at https://bit.ly/3pq8Om5

“We definitely need some more volunteers,” Kurlander said.

Disco is the theme for this year’s championships, and Kurlander encouraged people to get out their costumes, cow bells and other noise makers for the event.

“It’s looking like it will be a great weekend for weather so it should be great,” Kurlander said.

Race Schedule

Saturday

8:30 a.m.: Freshman boys

9:50 a.m.: Freshman girls

11:10 a.m.: JV boys

12:30 p.m.: JV girls

Sunday

8:30 a.m.: Sophomore girls

9:50 a.m.: Sophomore boys

11:10 a.m.: Varsity girls

12:45 p.m.: Varsity boys