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12 BikeLife Boulder THE COLORADOLEAGUE A Community Built on High School Mountain Biking Five four threetwoone.GO A swarm of high school mountain bike racers sprint off the start line to the sound of ringing cowbells and cheering fans. Someone mutters I wish I had this when I was in high school while they watch a wave of colorful team jerseys fly by. Participants greet one another at the finish line with high fives and smiles. This is the typical festive fall scene at a Colorado High School Cycling League race. Teams descend upon a host community that welcomes the electric and healthy vibe. The culture instills courte- ous competition and integrity while supporting personal achievement and establishing community connections. Riders are welcome regardless of their ability and when a rider has a tough race their entire team and several spec- tators gather at the finish line greeting them with heart- warming smiles and words of encouragement. The camara- derie that develops throughout the season is truly magical. Cycling is freedom a joyful exploration of ones environ- ment and an effective tool to galvanize community. The more opportunities available for youth to develop passion become self-sufficient set goals and create a strong sense of belonging while maintaining and expanding their unique individuality the better. One student never viewed herself as an athlete until join- ing her high school mountain bike team. She lost 20 pounds during the season. Another rider struggled with adjusting to high school and her participation on the mountain bike team became a lifeline that allowed her to blossom. A par- ent stated The Colorado League series guarantees that I will spend four weekends in the fall camping and riding with my teenage son. By KATE RAU PhotoLINDAGUERRETTE