Motto of Manti Mountain Bike Team: ‘Everybody rides’
By James Tilson
MANTI—A youth sporting group started by and coached by parent volunteers is poised to build its own track and sponsor races that could draw 1,000 participants.
But when you talk to organizers of the Manti Mountain Bike Team, you will find that building a track and hosting competitons are not their primary goals.
“The league’s goal is to have everybody ride,” says assistant coach Dallas Cox. “There are not qualifiers. Everybody on the team will ride the race. Even at state.”
Cox’s wife and assistant coach KariLynn Cox agrees. “That’s their whole vision. Everyone rides; no one’s benched; and everyone gets a chance to do it.”
Head coach Monica Nielson tells of the “core principals” of the volunteer-led Utah High School Cycling League: “Fun, inclusivity, equality, respect and community. Their vision is to strengthen the body, mind and character of the participants through the sport of cycling.”
The league, which is not school based and not connected with the Utah High School Activities Association, has only been in existence for seven years, but it is soaring in popularity.
According to KariLyn Cox, Utah has the largest high school cycling league in the nation. The league has recently split into three regions—north, central and south.
According to the league’s web-site (www.utahmtb.org), there are 72 clubs or teams in Utah. The teams compete within their region until the last race of the year. Then all clubs compete in the same race. The Utah league competes under the auspices of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).
The regions are defined by geography. The north region takes the northern part of Salt Lake County and north, the central region is southern Salt Lake County and parts of Utah County, while the south region includes American Fork, a
“Mount Nebo” team, and everything south of there. The Manti team is in the south region.
Training starts for the teams on June 1. The races start on Aug. 24 and are held every two weeks after that for four races. The last race of the year, in which all the clubs in the state race together, will be held in Cedar City on Oct. 18-19.
According to Dallas Cox, the races do not have specific lengths. “The races are based on time. They want the beginning riders to get off the trail in between 45 minutes and an hour.”
Cox said the trails are usually 5.6 miles long, must be a combination of double track and single track, and must start and end with an incline “that spreads the riders out at the start and makes the finish slower.”
Beginning riders will race one lap of the course, and higher classifications will move up in lap counts, between one to four laps. A typical race will go for somewhere between five to 20 miles.
The Manti Mountain Bike Team hopes to sponsor a race of its own in the near future. “Our plan is in the next year, either 2020 or 2021, to hold a NICA sanctioned mountain bike race here, west of Manti,” says Nielson.
Their planned location is next to the West Mountains, close to the Gunnison Reservoir. It is partly on private land, partly on Gunnison Irrigation Company land, and partly on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property.
The team has permission from the private and corporate owners, but is still finishing up all the requirements to use the BLM land. However, the group does have permission to ride on the property, just not to improve the land for a track.
The Coxes and Nielson think a racing event will bring considerable outside revenue to Sanpete County. “Typically for a race, there will be 1,000 riders, which means there will be 5,000 people coming to the race,” says Nielson. “And between all the hotels, restaurants, gasoline and groceries, there can be over $100,000 spent at a race.”