Once again it’s mountain bike season. It’s the time of year when 40 Tehachapi students brave the cold weather and mountainous terrain to prepare for NICA’s SoCal mountain bike races.

Tehachapi High School, Jacobsen Middle School, Valley Oaks Charter School and Heritage Oak School have all come together to train, ride and support each other through one of the toughest and most physically demanding individual sports available to students.

In the next three months, Tehachapi will compete in five races against 75 teams and 1,326 registered SoCal league riders. The top finishers in each division will race against the Northern California League at the end of the season to hold the title of state champion. In the past few years, several Tehachapi riders have stood at the top of the podium as California’s State Champion.

The following is a list of the upcoming races, dates and locations. All are welcome to cheer on our town's competitors and show their support. This year two of the races will be held right here in our town at the TMTA Lehigh mountain trails. For more information, visit Socaldirt.org.

• Feb. 23 and 24, Beach to Boulders at Lake Perris, Calif.

• March 16 and 17, Vail Lake Challenge at Vail Lake Resort, Calif.

• March 30 and 31, Victory at Vail at Vail Lake Resort, Calif.

• April 27 and 28, Cruise the Keys at Keysville, Calif.

• May 11 and 12, SoCal Finals at Tehachapi.

• May 18 and 19, NorCal and SoCal Championships at Tehachapi.

The riders would like to give a special thank you to all of their sponsors for their continued support, and are grateful for the opportunity to embrace the sport of mountain bike racing. Let the races begin!

April Wood is a parent and coach with the team.