As summer ends, 2017 Frisco Bay Invite brings 1000 high school MTB athletes to town Aug. 26-27 |

As summer ends, 2017 Frisco Bay Invite brings 1000 high school MTB athletes to town Aug. 26-27

Phil Lindeman
Summit Mountain Biking Team riders Tai-Lee Smith, left, and Elsa Bates interact before practice at the Frisco Peninsula Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Everyone who’s duked it out at the Frisco Bay Invite knows about Crown Point Road.

For the fourth year running, the Colorado High School Cycling League welcomes the 2017 fall season with two days of racing on trails and dirt roads at the Frisco Peninsula. The race route covers just about every slice of singletrack on the Frisco side of Lake Dillon — Balfonz Blitz, Jody’s Loop, Riechl’s Retreat and more — but for veteran riders like Henry Boyd, those are the easy stretches. It’s the wide-open flats of Crown Point Road where insanity goes down as dozens of riders jockey for position.

“That’s the toughest part,” said Boyd, a 17-year-old Peak School senior, before leading his team on a pre-ride of this weekend’s course. “When you have the opportunity to go as fast as you can, everyone is sprinting for position. A lot goes down on Crown Point Road.”

The Frisco Bay Invite begins today with North Conference athletes, including the Summit Tigers mountain bike team, and wraps up tomorrow with South Conference athletes. Racing starts at 9 a.m. both days and wraps up around 3:30 p.m., with awards around 4 p.m. The event is open to the public, along with the partner bike expo and all facilities at the Frisco Adventure Park, such as disc golf and the bike park. Parking will be extremely limited — plan ahead.

Small team, fierce Tigers

This year’s Summit Tigers mountain bike team is in good hands with Boyd. Beginning with his first solo attempt of the Firecracker 50 in 2016, the four-year team veteran made a promise to get better and better on his bike with each passing day. And it’s working: He placed fourth in the expert men’s 19-29 division at this year’s Firecracker — he finished in 4:48:47, just 16 minutes behind the first-place winner in a stacked field — and has been training hard all summer with coach Joe Howdyshell of Summit Endurance Academy, the newest face of the former Summit Velo program.

After a long summer of training, Boyd is ready to lead his small-yet-scrappy team to another dominating year in Division 2. The team jumped up to Division 1 last season thanks to an enormous senior class, but after racing against squads like Boulder and Fairview with 90-plus members, Boyd and head coach Fred Newcomer are ready to be back in the smaller — but just as competitive — Division 2.

“I have a lot of new faces (this year), but we’re always looking for that state championship spot,” Newcomer said of his goals for the season. “We’re always nipping at the heels for that.”

The Tigers get a huge boost in the form of freshman Tai-Lee Smith. She’s the youngest of the three Smith sisters — eldest sister Ezra is a two-time state champion who’s now traveling the world on the pro cross-country circuit, while middle sister Jazlyn planned on competing in the high school league until she broke her elbow doing something other than biking — but she’s just as decorated as her siblings (Ezra Smith won last year’s Frisco Bay crown). Most recently, Tai-Lee Smith won the U-14 National Championship title for cross-country at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia — and she did it by a whopping two minutes.

And yet, the youngest Smith wants to compete in the freshman division for her first season, just to see what it’ll be like.

“I was going to move up to JV but I wanted to see the freshman category first,” Tai-Lee Smith said, mentioning that her sisters didn’t give her too much advice about high school racing — as if a national champ needs it. “I know some girls from Colorado who are tough. There’s a girl from Durango who has beat me twice.”

While Tai-Lee Smith is leading a group of just four Summit girls, Boyd is hoping to inspire the team’s 14 guys, including nearly 10 sophomores, with regular top-10 finishes at the varsity level. He knows it won’t be easy against big competitors like Battle Mountain and Steamboat.

“I’d love to be top-10 in varsity at states,” Boyd said, referring to the season-ending championship on Oct. 22 in Eagle. “That’s the overall goal, but I just want to have clean races every time. No crashes, no mechanicals — just a clean race.”

And a little extra giddy up on Crown Point.

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