A recently formed youth mountain biking team will compete in an Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League event

 - Prineville Composite Bike Team members Cade Grogan (foreground) and Todd Teskey take a quick break from practice with Coach Jon Conway. Practice was held on the same Barnes Butte Recreation Area trail system as the races.

The Prineville Composite Bike Team is barely a month into its existence.

The group of high school age kids participated in their first practice just two weeks ago.

But in two more weeks, they will be competing in a large event that will bring numerous other young mountain bike racing teams to town.

The local bike team is part of the Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League, which is comprised of teams of sixth through 12th grade kids throughout the state. On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, the league will hold one of its five races, the Butte, Scoot and Boogie, at the Barnes Butte Recreation Area.

Randy Winders, the league's Crook County Chapter President, said the new Prineville teammates are not planning to participate in the entire series of races, which are spread out over a two-day timeframe, but "all three are going to at least race in a couple of the events."

The races will make use of the looping trail system in the local city-owned park space. According to race information provided by the league's website, three waves of races are planned, which are broken into different age and skill level groups. Races range in distance from seven miles to 14 miles.

"The races are set up on cross country courses that all riders can ride," Winders explained. "Primarily, they do laps."

The league race information characterizes the course as an exciting single trace with rocky sections and punchy climbs. Each lap is 3.5 miles and 250 feet of elevation change per lap.

Winders said that the race was actually scheduled prior to the team forming, although one did not necessarily lead to the other. Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League reached out to Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), a regional cycling organization, about hosting a race on the Barnes Butte Trails. They in turn contacted city of Prineville officials who greenlighted the race.

Once the race was scheduled, volunteers from the Crook County community and COTA went and spruced up the trails, getting them race worthy.

The Prineville Composite Bike Team would not form until early August. This is the second time that Winders has tried to form a youth cycling team.

"Years ago, I tried setting one up through the 4-H program," he said, explaining that his goal as to encourage kids to ride bikes and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

He left Prineville for a while, but when he returned, he decided revisit the goal.

"I just came back to Prineville and when I heard that there was a parent who was thinking about wanting to be a coach," he recalls. "I contacted them, and we started the process of getting a team registered."

He and coach Jon Conway posted fliers throughout the community, trying to recruit team members. They scheduled a parent-rider meeting in early August. Three families showed up and registered a child. Team members include Cade Grogan, Todd Teskey and Samantha Ramos.

"So, it was a pretty successful outreach for our very first year."

Winders couldn't say for certain how many teams will participate in the Prineville race, but he knows about at least 400 kids have registered for the Oregon Interscholastic Cycling League this year.

The league racing information includes camping and lodging information during the two-day event, with onsite camping at the recreation area offered on a first come, first served basis. It went to note that various hotels are available in Prineville as well as Airbnb options.

Races are scheduled throughout Saturday and Sunday mornings, with start times as early as 8:30 and as late as 11:30. Prineville Composite Bike Team members are expected to compete on Sunday.

Additional races are planned throughout the next two months, with future events planned at Mt. Bachelor and Klamath Falls before a state championship is held in Madras in late October.

Winders hopes to see the local bike team grow in subsequent years as more kids take an interest in mountain biking and competing.

"For us, it's a recreational activity for them that can last a lifetime," he concluded.

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