First-Ever Student Mountain Bike Race Held At Lake Fayetteville

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LAKE FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- The Arkansas league of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association had their first-ever student mountain bike race Sunday (Sept. 11) at Lake Fayetteville.

More than 100 kids in junior high and high school raced around Lake Fayetteville trails.

Fifteen schools were represented in the race while other kids whose schools don`t have mountain bike teams raced independently. They rode between six and eighteen miles depending on their age.

For most riders, like Cate Mertins with the Haas Hall Academy team, it was their first time to compete in a mountain bike race. She rode twelve miles and said she was really tired at the end.

“It was kind of tough to stay motivated because I was kind of out by myself a lot during it. So it was hard to not want to slow down,” Mertins said.

Mertins won first place in her division, which was something she said was surprising. She said she is looking forward to the next race.

“I think that NICA is an awesome program. I'm thankful that we have all of this here in Northwest Arkansas and it's just a great opportunity,” Mertins said.

Neyland Robinson, whose belongs to the Lincoln Junior High team in Bentonville, has only been riding for a year and the Lake Fayetteville event was also his first mountain bike race.

“At the end it is up and down and up and down and that`s kind of the tough part of the trail, but in the very beginning it`s just kind of flat and smooth,” Robinson said.

But he said the hills didn't slow him down.

“In the very beginning, I was in first and in the middle of the race, I was actually in third, and at the end I sped back up and came back into first,” Robinson said.

The next race in the series will be Oct. 1 at the Slaughter Pen bike trails in Bentonville. After that, the series goes to Lake Leatherwood in Eureka Springs and the championship race will bring riders back to Bentonville.

NICA has leagues across the country. This year, Arkansas became their 16th league.