"Sharing", "Development", "For the good of the athlete" or "I love those voicemail messages!"
I'm having a tough time with a subject line for this one so I'll just take the machine gun approach and hit them all... they are all connected
Late last summer former world Xterra champion and Junior World MTB competitor Neilson Powless and I connected about his racing on the road. He was quickly added to our roster.
When the Garmin junior cycling team folded last year we connected with 2013 National MTB Champ, BMXer, and roadie Christopher Blevins and he joined our team.
Both Neilson and Christopher race mountain bikes for Whole Athlete. Late spring 2014 and Whole Athlete teammate Sean Bennett saw how much fun Christopher and Neilson were having on the road, so we added him as a guest rider. All three race for Whole Athlete and NCCF/ Team Specialized. Common thread being Specialized Bicycles plus Dario and my belief that a junior loving to race any type of bike is good for their development and longevity.
2014 road nationals saw Christopher working with his 15-16 teammates to pull out wins in the road race and time trial, Gage won the time trial, while Neilson pulled off an impressive 4th in the individual time trial then made the decisive breakaway with teammate Jason Saltzman in the criterium. Unfortunately, a crash with two other riders extinguished the move. Fortunately, Sean Bennett was ready and in good positon for the next move. This one turned out to be the winning move and Sean finished 4th in a super competitive race. Even more impressive was that this was Sean’s 4th ever criterium! Nick led Matt out for the field sprint win and 5th overall so we saw every teammate play in the outcome of the race!
Fast forward to USA Cycling Junior Mountain Bike Nationals. Last Friday Christopher Blevins won his 2nd consecutive 15-16s MTB National Title and Sean Bennett won his first 17-18s stars and stripes jersey.
On Sunday Christopher, Sean and Neilson teamed up in the short track championships. One of the benefits of being director to this great group of juniors is the voicemail messages and e-mails I get after their races and here’s one I got from Christopher “It was a great weekend overall. Especially today. You would have enjoyed watching this one. Sean and I were trying to get Neilson the win after his bad luck on Friday in the cross country. We treated the short track like a criterium. We went one-two and four. It was great teamwork. Everyone was wondering why mountain bikers were using teamwork. Yay, that was kind of fun!”