VACAVILLE — The Dirt Dogs were flying down the trails of Lagoon Valley Park Thursday seemingly with ease.
It was the middle of February – still winter – but by California standards it was a sunny, spring-like day. Still, the Dirt Dog mountain biking team hardly broke a sweat traveling several miles around the park.
For Vacaville Christian High School student Aaron Grantham, it was a nice change of pace to be outside enjoying the sun. Like most high schoolers, Grantham used to love playing Xbox video games. Unlike most, he decided to ditch the Xbox for mountain biking.
“I started (biking) when I got sick of playing Xbox,” he said. “I came out to enjoy the sun . . . and it just keeps happening.”
About 10 students from Vacaville and Vacaville Christian high schools ride 10 to 12 miles at Lagoon Valley Park every Tuesday and Thursday.
The team was formed during the 2011-2012 school year by Vacaville High teacher Aja Cook and Justin English.
Cook and English have been friends and avid mountain bikers ever since high school and decided to pass on that love to future generations.
The team is a composite team, meaning multiple Vacaville-area high schools can participate. Since its formation, the team has grown from four racers to 10.
The racers include Grantham as well as Tatiana Sisneros, Kaylee Schlegel, Tyler Walhood, Garrett Parker, Dominik Lara, Darren Cradduck and Andrew Vidou.
Some of the racers came to the team with little to no mountain biking experience. Schlegel said her first time on the Lagoon Valley trails was definitely hard.
“It takes building up,” she said. “You have to be consistent about practicing.”
English described his experience mountain biking “like meditation.”
“All life’s troubles go away. You’re just focused,” he said.
Cycling fans such as Walhood were happy to hear a mountain biking team had formed in Vacaville, especially since the activity isn’t an official high school sport.
The racers do participate in official competitions, however, along with hundreds of other cyclists in state-wide competitions.
Everyone on the team is preparing for an upcoming race Saturday at Granite Bay. The end goal for the team is to make it to the national championships.
English said some of the riders are more ambitious than others, but as long as they all enjoy themselves that’s OK with him.
And for many of the riders, just the chance to ride and to push themselves every day is enough.
“It’s a minor addiction,” Walhood said. “We’re adrenaline freaks.”
Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.