Young riders ready for NORBA stop
The Young Riders are more than happy to welcome the country’s best mountain bikers to their backyard. Recent successes, both individually and as a team, in regional races means that they are more than ready for the National Off-Road Bike Association (NORBA) National Mountain Bike Series this weekend at Deer Valley.
"NORBA is an opportunity for us to have a big race at home," said Young Riders head coach Tom Noaker.
Deer Valley serves as the fourth stop on the national mountain biking circuit and brings many of the best pro mountain and downhill racers, as well as many of the region’s top riders, together for three days of grueling competition in the hills above Park City.
Noaker says that besides recent strong performances, he is excited about the logistical ramifications of a local race. The Deer Valley locale means no transportation or lodging headaches and kids can invite friends and family to come out an support them on the trails.
"Anytime you don’t have to worry about logistics, it’s a big advantage," Noaker said.
Familiarity with the course is also helpful. Noaker and the team members both rode the course as part of a regional Intermountain Cup Series race last month and checked out the course on Thursday to make sure they were prepared.
"It’s rare we’re able to memorize the course," Noaker said.
Noaker will compete in the open single speed category and his team of youth riders will mostly be scattered among the sport and expert categories. Noaker is leading in the single speed category and hopes to continue his winning ways among national competition.
"It’s a mystery," Noaker said. "You never know who is going to show up."
Without the advantage of switching gears, Noaker and the other single speeders must rely on momentum and leverage rather than leg speed to get ahead.
The course should benefit all of the riders. The course features lots of sweeping turns, single and double track for passing and beautiful terrain throughout.
"Among all the kids and all of the coaches, we agreed its one of the better courses on the circuit," Noaker said.
Much of the Young Riders’ success stems from the time of the season. Noaker says that every year, his riders tend to peak around the Fourth of July. He admires their spirit and is excited for this weekend’s results, but he also worried about their ability to maintain those top performances through the end of the NORBA season.
"To have Deer Valley fall at that time is a big bonus but we’re trying to preserve energy for Snowmass and Brianhead races at the end of July and the beginning of August," Noaker said.
Noaker says that no matter how hard he tries to design training schedules, the riders always do their best at this time of the year and has yet to figure out how to keep it more steady throughout the season. Right now, the Young Riders have backed off of intense training to try and sustain energy for the end of season push.
One thing that he has mastered is maintaining enthusiasm. The entire team is ready for this weekend and already looking forward to continuing on and doing well on both the regional and national circuits.
"Its confidence, conditioning and ability all coming together," Noaker said.
Some of his top riders are expecting big results this weekend. Keegan Swenson, a 12 year-old rider, will put his recent state championship in the 13-15 Sport Division to the test as he takes on even older riders in the NORBA Sport 16-and-under Division. In the expert categories, Alex Gordon and Tres Wilson also look to do well. Noaker says that he has about five or six kids that may dominate over the weekend.
"They are riding well and are better athletes than the average kid just naturally," Noaker said.
One difference in this year’s NORBA races will be the implementation of drug testing. Although, the testing is done at random and may not happen this weekend, Noaker said just the fact that they are part of the circuit is a big change. With 58 pros pulled from the Tour d’ France recently, Noaker said that it was only natural that the other bicycle sports would start getting more serious about doping.
As both a competitive rider and a coach of children, Noaker is all for the testing.
"I don’t want to race against people who are cheating," Noaker said.
Fairness is always a concern, but Noaker hopes that the bigger message is that kids might steer clear of temptation if they know the penalties for doping. In general, if caught, the first infraction results in a one-year suspension and two offenses can get a rider banned from the sport for life.
"It’s a bad message that kids will need drugs," Noaker said.
The Young Riders, as well as other local teams and riders will race throughout the weekend.
All races are free and open to the public. Visit http://www.norbanationals.com for the race schedule. The event is expected to draw more than 2,000 amateur and professional riders. Events will include Cross Country, Downhill, Super D, Slalom, Mountain Cross, Short Track, Kid Races and more. For more information, contact Team Big Bear at 909-866-4565 or visit their Web site at http://www.teambigbear.com. , or Deer Valley at 800-424-DEER (3337) or 435-645-6510.
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