Robert Moreno

Fri May 29, 2015 12:00pm

The Eastlake High School mountain bike team was formed six years ago and in 2015 the team keeps peddling.
The team was started by a teacher who wanted a club to get kids involved in cycling; along the way the club evolved into a mountain bike team.
The Eastlake mountain bike team joined the Southern California Cycling League and competes against bicycling teams in the region during the competition season which runs from December through May.
Competitions are held as far away as Los Olivos in Santa Barbara.
“Our team is the farthest southern team in the league,” said team director Carmen Richardson. Richardson and her team of coaches are volunteers who are licensed through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Currently there are 20 members on the team, though not all of them compete. Depending on the age of the rider, they can compete in races 10 to 24 miles long.
Richardson said the skill level of the athletes varies. “To be on our team requires zero experience,” she said. “We take riders of every ability.”
Richardson also said, unlike most sports, there is no grade point average required to be on the team.
This is Mckenzie Richardson’s third year on the team. The high school senior joined the team as a sophomore barely knowing how to ride a bike, she said. Today she is the club’s captain and last year was named the team’s most valuable player.
“It’s very surreal,” she said about her experience the past three years. She said she had joined the team after struggling to find a sport that she fully enjoyed.
“The club has been a really amazing experience for me because I was always that kid who wanted to play sports but never really found a place where I can fit in,” Mckenzie Richardson said.
On top of the competitions, the team, through the school’s Associated Student Body, is a cycling club aimed at bringing awareness to students and the community about the benefits of bike riding.
The club participates in trail clean-ups and events like the recent opening of the new Sweetwater Bikeway.
Carmen Richardson said the team has come a long way since it first started and its growth can be seen with a new team at Eastlake Middle School.
Mckenzie Richardson said it’s difficult to get notoriety at school because mountain biking isn’t a popular sport.
“It’s actually very frustrating getting recognition through the school that we are a very competitive sport,” Mckenzie Richardson said. “We wear the name Eastlake High School on everything.”