Local high school students embrace off-road racing

Keegan Pelton” width=
Courtesy of Byron Renfro
Mountain View High student Keegan Pelton proudly displays the second-place trophy his team won earlier this month at a league race in Redding.

In this time of social distancing, Coleman Renfro seems to be in the right sport – mountain biking. Although races have been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, the Mountain View High sophomore can still go on solo rides to train as he holds out hope that the season will resume. 

“I’m my keeping fingers crossed,” Renfro said. “For now, I just get out and ride in the hills when I can and have fun.”

Renfro at least got to participate in the first race of the year with Black Mountain Composite, a team featuring boys and girls from several area high schools. He placed second in the Sophomore Boys division of the NorCal High School Cycling League event, held March 7 in Redding.

In addition, Renfro helped Mountain View High, as a subteam (five or more riders who attend the same high school), finish second overall. Delaney Lantz, Owen Peterson, Renfro and Keegan Pelton posted the Spartans’ top four scores.

Pelton also earned an individual award, taking third in the Varsity Boys division.

It’s uncertain whether the team will ride again this season. The league’s next three races have been canceled, according to Renfro, leaving only two in May before the state championships.

Black Composite won the state Division II title in 2017 under co-head coach John Vahlberg, who founded the team eight years ago.

“He’s a great mentor and coach,” Renfro said, “and his son is one of the best riders in the state.”

Renfro found out about Vahlberg and Black Composite three years ago while searching for opportunities to race in a sport he was “getting more and more in to,” the Los Altos resident said.

He joined in eighth grade – before he was old enough to race with the team – training with Black Mountain during its run to the state crown.

Once Renfro started racing last year, he was hooked.

“It’s so much fun,” he said. “You really have to push yourself, and it’s great to see my race results get better.”

Renfro praised his dad for helping make it happen. Byron Renfro has not only supported his son’s interest in the sport – he is also one of the team’s assistant coaches.

“My dad really enjoys helping out,” Coleman said. “He pitches in when needed.”

Byron noted that mountain biking is a growing sport – some Bay Area high schools even have official teams with more than 60 riders – and the league is a great introduction to the racing side of it.

“The goal for NICA is to get kids interested in bikes and have fun,” he said. “While events are competitive, the focus is on being outside and having fun on

Races are usually several miles long on trails that come with challenges such as hills and mud.

“It’s kind of a niche sport; the bikes are quite expensive,” Coleman said. “But the team has loner bikes, so anyone can get in on it.”

Black Composite includes nine boys from Mountain View High and a girl from Los Altos High, Shilpa Rao. Other members attend Homestead, Fremont, Mitty, Bellarmine and Valley Christian.

For more information on Black Mountain Composite, visit

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