Race to the Top - One of California’s top mountain biking teams is based right here in El Cerrito

by Matt Larson

When considering what sport to go for in high school, mountain biking is rarely even on the list of options to choose from. Unless you’re attending El Cerrito High School, that is. The ECHS Mountain Bike Team just wrapped up their most successful season yet this past May, finishing first in Northern California, and second in the state! They competed against 85 other schools and hundreds of other riders; ECHS made their presence known, going undefeated in league races.

Established in 2001, Head Coach John Garrison joined the team about 4 years ago when his twin boys, Evan and Matt, reached high school age and joined the team as well. When they were in 8th grade he also helped start the El Cerrito Junior Mountain Bike Team which is still going strong today.

When Garrison came on board, the team was in last place with only 15 riders. The following year they got second place in their league and have remained a force ever since. Now, as NorCal champions, they’ve got about 27 riders on the team, 5 of which are girls.

A common conception for mountain biking is that racers are flying over gap jumps and forging down rocky declines, but Garrison explains that this is cross-country mountain biking, which is much more of a fitness sport.