Taos Composite bike team battles elements, gravity in Granby Ranch

Snow, rain, mud and wind added obstacles in third race of the season

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The Taos Composite high school mountain bike team traveled to Granby Ranch, Colorado, for its thirdrace of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association's (NICA) Colorado League regular season Sept. 24.

Due to rain and snow, the team was unable to ride the course in advance. The course had more climbing than most high school races - winding through glowing aspens and across open slopes of a ski area. More than 1,200 high school athletes competed over the weekend.

The junior varsity boys were the first group to compete in the morning. However, due to muddy conditions, the course was shortened from three laps to two laps. Liam Haworth and Joe Colonius rode the entire race together and finished 31st and 32nd, respectively, out of 128 racers. Freshman Cole Hughes rode in the second race and finished in 14th place.

In the sophomore boys division, Finn McMullin and Nate Steinberg finished 86th and 112th, respectively, in a tough field of competitors.

As the girls races started, heavy winds picked up - creating additional challenges. Alina Moore placed 47th in her division.

Juniper Cortopassi and Nalia Kast raced the girls sophomore race. Cortopassi earned the team's first top-10 finish of the season. Her 10th-place finish was closely followed by Kast, who finished less than two minutes behind Cortopassi in 11th.

"I'm happy to see the team have a race where all of our athletes persevered through individual and environmental challenges," said coach Sean Cassily. "They finished strong."

With Cortopassi and Kast leading the scoring, Taos Composite placed eighth overall out of 31 Division 2 teams.

"The top five scoring athletes count for Division 2 teams, so Cortopassi, Kast, Hughes, Haworth and Colonius all scored for Taos," said coach Susie Fiore. "It was truly a team effort with all athletes putting in big efforts."

Next up is the last regular-season race on Oct. 7 in Nathrop, Colorado, followed by Colorado State Championships in Eagle, Colorado, on Oct. 22nd. The team is still looking for sponsors as it trains and prepares for the final two races of the season.

Two fundraisers for the local high school mountain bike team are coming up. A bike swap will occur Oct. 1 at Field Institute of Taos Base Camp from noon until 7 p.m. The Ride the Rift free community event is slated for Oct. 15. See "Sidelines" on Page B2 for additional information about those events.

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