Hayley Bates ’18 Heads to Mountain Bike Nationals
Senior Hayley Bates is representing Colorado College on the national stage, heading to Missoula, Montana, this weekend to compete in her final Collegiate Mountain Biking National Championships. Bates says regular season racing this year has helped prepare her for the stacked field at nationals.
“It was the biggest and fastest field we’ve ever had in Colorado; we’re the most competitive collegiate state for mountain biking. And, with heading to Missoula, we have had the opportunity to train at altitude and in the cold.”
The races, Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, include a cross-country course that lasts about 90 minutes, and a short-track course, which is a 20-minute race plus three laps on a short course. Missoula is home to professional mountain biking races, too, and Bates says it should be a fun place to ride. She hones her skills training in Colorado Springs’ Ute Valley and Palmer Parks.
It’s her third time toeing the line at the mountain biking nationals, though this season, she’s had an extra challenge to tackle.
“The idea of hitting my face again really affected me,” says Bates. Bates had a serious crash at the end of the 2017 road cycling season. She crashed two weeks before nationals and while she sustained a broken nose, broken teeth, and severe facial trauma, she was cleared to get back on the bike within a week of that crash. “My first ride outside was the day before nationals; it was great to have the support from everyone at that race, and people were so happy to see me there. It was a good comeback,” she says. “And it was intense.” Just days after that crash, Bates won a sprint to the finish and placed fifth in the nation in collegiate club road cycling.
While she is CC’s only representative at the collegiate mountain biking national competition (this is her third year as the team’s sole qualifier), her leadership has helped grow CC’s presence during the regular season. “The team at CC got huge this year, with an average of 20 cyclists going to races. I remember my freshman year six people going to races was huge; now, I think we’ve had a max of 24 which has been a significant increase.”
Bates says the growing cycling community at CC helps in her own training, with more riders on group rides. “It’s really nice that we can train together, even if we are doing our own efforts,” she says.
Wrapping up this final mountain biking season is bittersweet for Bates. “Collegiate cycling has done so much for me at CC. Initially, I had to convince my parents to let me bring my bikes out here (when she moved to CC from her home in California). From there, I’ve built myself up to get my pro card and be considered for professional cycling teams; and so many of my friends are from cycling; it’s such a supportive community.”
Now, while Bates considers her next steps — likely law school eventually, and internships in the political science field — she’s also talking with teams in the competitive world of professional cycling. She says her strong suit is road cycling, which is what she plans to pursue post-collegiately. “I love mountain biking; it’s 100 percent your own effort when you’re out there. In road cycling, I like having the group dynamic, reading the field and that analysis element of it.”
Bates will get her chance to be a part of that group dynamic when road cycling season starts up in the spring. “I’ll take a break after nationals this month and will continue training year round. Then we’ll start road racing in March,” she says. Her family will be supporting her in Missoula this weekend and the campus community wishes her the best of luck!