WYDaily.com is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.
The Colonial Revolution, an interscholastic mountain biking team based in Williamsburg, is coming off a successful inaugural season in which the team produced a state champion.
Competing in the Virginia High School Cycling League, a state affiliate of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, the Colonial Revolution hit the trails in four races around central Virginia.
In June, Colonial Revolution Team Director Rick Bartels told WYDaily he was actively trying to recruit middle and high school-aged riders from around Williamsburg to compete on his first roster. His recruiting efforts yielded a team of 16 riders, eight in high school and eight in middle school.
Most of the riders recruited by Bartels were beginners in cycling and some were first-time athletes altogether. Because competitive mountain biking is not exactly a common sport for young athletes, Bartels watched his riders work through growing pains during early practices and races.
“We had a number of racers who were competing in their first competitive race ever. They came out shy,” he said. “Once they got comfortable with the competition, you saw some kids really come out of their shell and put the hammer down.”
Perhaps no rider exemplified growth for the Colonial Revolution more than Yorktown Middle School student James Allmon, a cross-country runner who had the necessary endurance but needed to work on his racing technique.
After four months of practice and training with the team, Allmon’s first cycling season ended on a high note as he took home the middle school boys state championship in November.
“The first day he showed up to practice, I knew he was special,” Bartels said of Allmon.
But 2015 was just the beginning for the Colonial Revolution, which Bartels hopes will draw more participants moving forward. The 2015 season was always meant as a season to introduce riders to the sport and plant seeds for future growth.
With a successful season in the books, Bartels is now looking forward to the 2016 season that begins June 1.
Goals for 2016 include recruiting more athletes at both the middle and high school level. Bartels said he wants to see the Colonial Revolution add 10 to 15 new riders, which would essentially double the participation from 2015.
Additionally, Bartels also wants to see local schools become more involved in the sport and begin to develop their own competitive teams. In the future, Bartels wants to see local schools compete against each other similar to how varsity sports operate.
So far, Bartels said he has seen promising results out of Bruton High School, Williamsburg Christian Academy and Providence Classical School.
But until schools begin developing their own teams, Bartels plans to continue recruiting local athletes looking to participate in a non-traditional, yet still physically, demanding sport. Ultimately, Bartels wants to see other local athletes achieve the same results he saw out of his first crop of riders.
“They came out like new, fit little warriors after three or four months,” he said of his riders. “They all got strong and seemed to make friends. It was a lot of fun.”