The Albany High School Cougars is a racing team which represents the East Bay city of Albany, California. We participate in the Norcal Cycling League, South Conference, and are part of NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association). Our favorite places to ride include Tilden Park, Mount Tamalpais, China Camp, and the Bay Trail. Riders of all levels are welcome on the team; there are no try-outs and all participants are able to race. The team also has loaner bikes for riders who may not be able or willing to purchase their own bike during the first season.
The team’s existence is made possible by generous contributions of time and money from many in the Albany community. All of our coaches are volunteers and the team receives generous contributions from a number of sponsors. In addition, parents and guardians of the team’s riders donate their time by driving riders and assisting in race activities. If you are interested in the team, contact coach John Culp (whose email address is in the right sidebar) and keep your eyes out for notifications at the beginning of the school year.
The NorCal High School Cycling League was organized in 2001 to provide quality mountain biking programs for students in grades 9 to 12. Regardless of ability level, the NorCal League is committed to providing a positive experience for all student-athletes and helping them to create a strong body, mind, and character through the sport of cycling.
Ben Noble, Head Coach
Ben Noble has been head coach of the Albany High School Mountain Bike Team since 2021 as has been cycling for as long as he can remember. Ben’s favorite trails to ride in Tilden Park are South Park Single Track and Havey Canyon. Other than mountain biking, Ben enjoys reading, cooking, and playing the piano.
Dana Albert joined the team in 2015 and has been biking for 37 years in total. He has experience working at half a dozen bike shops and even coached a junior road team in the late ‘80s. His favorite race is La Marmotte, a cyclosportif in the French Alps. His words to live by are “Ride to eat, eat to ride.”
Andrew Tang joined the team in 2011 and has been biking for 7 years. He loves riding transit and is a planner at BART. His favorite ride is at China Camp.
Chris Knight has been biking for 22 years and joined the team in the fall of the 2017-18 season. He loves cooking, eating and passing cars on his commute. He likes riding anywhere in the East Bay Hills. He teaches Government and Economics at our school as well as MacGregor High School.
Dean Becker has been biking for 38 years. He has done long distance touring, commuting, and radical activism (“bikeshevik”). His favorite ride is the Minneapolis MN to Milwaukee WI tour. He can also throw a boomerang and catch it. He teaches AP Calculus and AP Statistics at our school.
Marion Russell joined the team in 2011 and has been riding for 34 years! She is a chemist doing research in the air quality at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and her favorite element is iron. Her favorite vacation so far was camping and mountain biking the White Rim Trail in Utah. Her favorite race is the Sea Otter Classic. She likes drinking chocolate milk to recover after long, hard rides.
Tom Long joined the team for the 2018 season, which is when he began mountain biking. He’s caught the biking bug and also started road biking in the summer of 2018. He loves road riding in West Marin and mountain biking anywhere on Mt. Tamalpais. His favorite activity other than riding is running in Redwood Regional Park. He’s also a tenor in the Albany Community Chorus!
Frequently Asked Questions
Who organizes the AHS mountain bike racing team?
The team is a co-ed AHS club open to all grade levels, sponsored by faculty and supported by parent volunteers. The Norcal High School MTB Racing League organizes our races and provides coaches training and licensing program designed and administered by the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).
What’s the commitment like for students?
During the season, from November to May, the time commitment includes up to 3 practices per week of 2 to 4 hours each (2 after school, 1 Sunday morning) and up to 7-weekend all-day races at locations ranging from Fort Ord to Granite Bay to Lower Lake and more. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and do 6 hours of volunteer tasks.
What’s the commitment like for parents?
The club relies on parent volunteers for many tasks large and small such as carpooling to practices and races, making meals and snacks for race day, organizing team events, etc. There is no team fee but costs for a suitable bike, helmet and other equipment, race registration fees, travel to races, etc. do add up. A team bike loaner program and other league programs can help.
What are practices like?
Most days we ride but some days we focus on bike skills or learn bike maintenance, and we also do some core/cardio days on land or in a gym. Practices build in intensity through the season, starting with flat 2 hour rides on the waterfront and progressing up to 3 to 4 hour climbs over Mount Tamalpais and back. Weekdays we usually ride the Bay Trail or in Tilden Park, weekends we often carpool to mountain biking spots like China Camp, Crockett Hills, or Mount Tam.
What are races like?
Exhausting, exhilarating and educational. Freshman races are 10-12 miles, Sophomores 15 – 18 miles, JV 15 – 20 miles, and Varsity may race for up to 25 or more miles. Everyone enjoys challenging courses and a post-race barbecue, it’s always a fun time at the Albany team tent on race day.
When are the races?
Races take place on a Saturday or Sunday from February to May. Check out our upcoming races page to know more about the dates, race courses and hotel information, or check out NorCal’s tentative race schedule.
Does riding for the team count towards the AHS P.E. requirement?
Riders cover 20 to 35 miles each practice, but unfortunately, as a club sport, this does not meet the AHS P.E. requirement.
Is racing co-ed?
While boys and girls do train together they race separately. Varsity, JV, Sophomore and Freshman Girls categories start around 9 am so the last girls are finishing their final lap as Sophomore and Freshman boys start around 10:45 am. The last riders in the first boys’ wave will be finishing as JV and Varsity boys start around 12:30 pm.
Do I have to be an experienced mountain bike rider?
No, new riders who want to make the significant commitment in time and energy to complete the season are welcome on the team, and racers compete by age and skill level. Club riders who started with no racing experience have progressed up to Varsity and earned scholarships to ride competitively in college.
Where do I signup?
You can visit the registration page on our website, or contact the team via firstname.lastname@example.org to get started. Stop by the team booth at the Solano Stroll to get more info, sign up at Club Rush, or come to the introductory team meeting in October.