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Champions! Monterey County Teens Bike: California State High School Mountain Bike Championships and elsewhere

Many teens, besides going to school and juggling homework and household chores, also have before or after school jobs, exceptional family responsibilities, and plenty of duties and activities that keep them slammed busy. When they finally get a little down time, it makes sense some just want to stay indoors and play video games, connect with people on social media, surf the web—and may even find themselves sliding into a Glow Kids trap; it’s not hard to do.

Not so much for the youth in this post,

and for many other pedal-pushing teens.

(Links go to related info on this site.) Some youth like bike parties and other social rides, doing BMX stunts, cruising on lowrider bikes, or mixing up family time with something out of the ordinary. Some simply like spinning spokes and telling jokes with friends. Some wanna be a bike fashionista—showing the world: no spandex required. Some like to shop by bike. Some anticipate every Open Streets event in the region with excitement, and bike festivals too; they just dig bike culture. Some ride recumbent, or use a handcycle. Some bike as a way to meet people they might have otherwise missed. Others enjoy dating-by-bike—it’s fun, it’s free, and has so many other pluses. For others, biking is part of their faith walk—well, their faith bike. Many care about climate change and other earth-care issues, and they know transportation choices impact the environment. Others like the freedom of bike commuting or using a bike-and-ride option, maybe an MST bus or trolley, to get where they need to go—no need to ask someone else to give them a ride.
Whether they think about the many benefits of bicycling or not, lots of teens like bikes! So, what about the mountain bike racing? In Teach Teens Well, about a high school bike ed program founded in 2012 by Bicycling Monterey, we include a 2-minute clip from “Singletrack High” by Pedal Born Pictures.  Check it out: Those two minutes give a little taste of why some youth love to do what those below do….

Meet some

Monterey County teens

who race mountain bikes

Credits for the photos below: Thank you to James Lawrence for providing photos 1, 3, 7, 8; George Garibay for photos 2, 4, 5, 6; and Jeff Lindenthal for photos 9-11.

Mountain bikes? Maybe there are things about mountain biking that turn you off, like bikers who are rude to hikers, equestrians, or others on shared trails. And mountain bikers who are clueless (or just don’t care!) about taking care of the land.

In this post, you’ll meet some great roll/role models among the mountain bike community. They’re such chill riders, in fact, that one of these teams received the first-ever Youth award among Golden Helmet Awards given by the Transportation Agency for Monterey County. They were told that among reasons they got the award: people report that these team members “bike polite”—they’re very courteous on trails, and they also practice safe cycling.

To learn more on that topic, see “More resources for responsible mountain biking” later in this post.
Okay, let’s get on to those racers. But first, another headsup: Monterey County’s annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day.
  • At TAKMBD, chances are you can meet some of the teens below and their teammates. They may be helping out as volunteers or just having fun on obstacle courses, skills structures, and more.
  • But you don’t have to wait till TAKMBD! Meanwhile, you’ll find some of these teens, along with adults, on Beginners’ Rides, No Drop Rides, No Mercy Rides, etc. organized by Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (, and you’re welcome to join them.

This post’s photos and more report about the 2017 championships, but there’s much information below that’s relevant any year. Check it out!

Above: You did it, bro, you’re a State Champ! Stefan Hubrich of Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite.

Below: Matthew Saldaña of Palma School likewise came away with a hard-earned State Champion medal and jersey.

Details below.
In the California High School Mountain Bike State Championships in Petaluma on May 14, 2017, two of Monterey County’s three teams had state champions! All three teams had high-ranking competitors, as outlined below.

Monterey County’s State Champs

  • Matthew Saldaña earned a State Champion title in the Junior Varsity Division 2. Matthew is a member of the Palma School Mountain Bike Team of Salinas.
  • Stefan Hubrik, a member of the Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team, which serves youth throughout Monterey County, took first in the Sophomore Boys D2 competition.

Raise that champ up—Stefan Hubrik.

Scroll down for news about more state competitors

from all three Monterey County teams. 

Above: Race in action!

Below: Matthew Saldaña on the race course.

Below: Matthew Saldaña with his parents, enjoying his victory.

Yes, there’s more!

Check out the Race Report from the NorCal High School Cycling League. You’ll see that Monterey County had additional high school team members who placed at state:
  • Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team: In the Freshman Boys D2 competition, Nathan Davis took fifth place. And, as noted above, his fellow Lightfighters team member Stefan Hubrik, a Monterey High School student, took first in the Sophomore Boys D2 competition.

    Monterey High? Yes, Lightfighters Composite team offers female and male students in grades 9-12 from any Monterey County public, private, or homeschool/unschool to join this co-ed team, unless your school already has its own team (i.e., unless you attend Palma or Salinas High). For more details, click here, then go to Section 7a.

  • Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team: In the Varsity Boys, Noah Lindenthal took fourth. In Freshman Boys D1 competition, Tyler Duffus  took third.
Kudos also to Palma’s first team captain, Isaac Thomas. The success of high school mountain bike teams isn’t only due to the energy of those in the saddle, as Bicycling Monterey’s feature story on the 2017 Sea Otter Classic pointed out.
Learn more in that Sea Otter 2017 story about Isaac, and about others in the high school mountain biking community.

Congratulations to all members

of all three teams

for successfully completing the season!

Want to reach any of Monterey County’s teams—co-ed Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team, all-boys Palma School Mountain Bike Team, or co-ed Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team?
  • Want to be part of a team? Just know when their next competitions are, so you can go watch? Or want to know other ways to support local teams? The head coaches for all of these teams welcome you to contact them.
  • Contacts for all three teams are listed in Section 7a of Bicycling Monterey’s 32-section directory, Monterey County Bicycling Resources Directory / Bike Community Leaders.
  • Note: Although this post happens to feature photos and mentions of only boys, two of the three teams are co-ed. (Palma is an all-boys school.) Bicycling Monterey’s “Granite Bay” post shows our local girls on the podium at other competitions, and “Got Bike? gave an idea about the increase in girls who race mountain bikes. As the Cowboys website shows, e.g., there were as many Junior Varsity girls as boys in 2017—check out their team roster.

Lightfighters also received a third place team award for 2017 at state.

And possibly the 2017 award they are most proud of,

Lightfighters received Team Spirit Award for the NorCal League!

Below, Tyler Duffus of the Salinas High Cowboys

took a D1 3rd Place, Frosh Boys.

Below, at left: Noah Lindenthal of the Cowboys

took a 4th Place, Varsity Boys.

Below, at center: Matthew Saldana of Palma School,

JV D2 State Champion.

About High School Mountain Biking

For an overview of high school mountain biking and its benefits, refer to from the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). If your school doesn’t have a team but might like to, ask any of the local team coaches how their team got started. Or contact the NorCal League or NICA with your questions.

League path to the championships: Monterey County teams first compete in California’s NorCal League, a Chapter League of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). Winning competitors go on to State Championship competitions. (The State Championships were held in Monterey County for the first time in 2014, at Laguna Seca, as noted on the Master Calendar for Bicycling Monterey County, 5/11/14. Curious about coaches back then? That calendar post includes those credits. For Bicycling Monterey’s most up-to-date team contacts, click here, then go to Section 7a.)

As stated on the NorCal site, “Regardless of ability level, the NorCal League is committed to providing a positive experience for all student-athletes, and helping them to create strong body, mind, and character through the sport of cycling.”

Bicycling Monterey appreciates all camaraderie and mutual support shown by our local youth. For example, twice a week, the Cowboys welcomed Matthew Saldaña of Palma to join them in the Cowboys’ training sessions; that extra push may have been just what it took that resulted in Matthew winning his State Champ title. And of course, Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team joins together youth who come from many different Monterey County schools, including homeschool/unschool students.

More resources for responsible mountain biking

  • Please respect and follow the recommendations of our local mountain biking community leaders about how to protect and love the land, how to ride courteously on shared trails, and more.
  • Who are the local leaders? Two organizations I recommend regarding mountain biking in the Monterey Bay region are (1) MORCA in Monterey County; and (2) Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz in our neighboring Santa Cruz County. You’ll find among MORCA and MBOSC members some excellent role models for how to mountain bike responsibly and more sustainably. Their most dedicated, longtime members—people such as Henrietta Stern and other leadership of MORCA, and Mark Davidson and other leaders of MBOSC—will be happy to answer your questions or refer you to other resources.
  • Be kind to the land. Ride dirt, not mud. Stay off trails until they’ve had a chance to dry up a bit. Read “Why we don’t night ride after rain” from MORCA and “Rules for Rainy Season Riding“from MBOSC.
  • Fort Ord National Monument, Fort Ord Public Lands, and the Monterey Peninsula include beautiful trails where mountain biking is allowed. Ride only on designated, marked trails. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reminds: To preserve these trails for future users, please do not use trails when they are wet or muddy. In addition, do not ride or brake on open terrain, and do not cut across switchbacks. Questions? Contact BLM at (831) 394-8314.
  • On a related note, you may enjoy a 3/28/17 Santa Cruz Good Times story by Geoff Drake about the work of MBOSC, “How Mountain Bikers Beat Heroin Hill.”

And of course, no matter what your own particular bike love is—mountain, road, BMX, fixies, cruisers, whatever– bike polite and bike safe. Refer to Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bike Laws. You may also want to share the poster below, and others, with your family and friends.


A sampling of related posts on this site

Awesome Bike Coaches of Monterey County

Lightfighters, Palma, SHS Cowboys: Conference Competitions

Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team – for High Schoolers Countywide

Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team

Got bike? Some Salinas High students do not–and want to ride with the cycling team

Sports Illustrated: K.C. Fontes of Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike Team

Campfires and Flat Tires: The Warwick Sisters on Keeping Up with Dad

Salinas High Mountain Bike Team Takes First Place at Granite Bay

Salinas High MTB Team needs you! Grooming for event

Little Bellas at Sea Otter Classic

Bike to School: In Monterey County and elsewhere

Remembering Kyle Beardshear

Salinas Youth Leading the Way in Monterey County Bike Community Firsts

Salinas Youth and Others for Bikes: Bikes Make Life Better

Bicycling Monterey celebrates


who bikes legally and responsibly!

This post was published on 20 May 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 18 April 2024.

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