For the second consecutive year the Colorado State Championships of mountain biking were held in Durango’s neighboring mountain town, Telluride. Last season Devo swept up over 10 total state titles, U14/19 athletes and coaches took wins in cross country, short track, super d and downhill. This year wins were not as easy to come by, but there was something more to take from the weekend than wins alone. Yet its not really something you can put your finger on.
The weekend started with a rush as friday morning team pre-rides were quickly assembled to beat the storms lurking over the valley. The U19 mens team and RMCF/Sweet Elite’s headed out for the 12 mile lap from Mountain Village along side The U14 girls and one 8 year old smiling Jr Devo cyclist. The locals said the storm wouldn’t hit until 4pm. At 2pm, the majority of the cyclists in the base area, including the second wave of Devo course pre-riders, stood undercover and talked over the course maps and discussed most everything, all the while waiting out the large amounts of water falling from the sky. It was dumping. Thirty minutes passed and everything soaked in come the Devos after the 12 mile loop, finishing the last 4 in the rain, with smiles as big as the rainbows we were about to see two hours from then.
Later that night it was family dinner and pre race rest time around the Telluride Town Park which from an aerial view might have looked like a bunch of ants running all over the place with excitement. The Devo Coaches site was centrally located and provided the tent and meeting place for the post dinner, ever famous Schwag Fest. An event where Durango locals donated cycling gear, parts and oddities are tossed to those who call out the loudest. The random treasures always seem to go to those who could use, and many trades are made after the dust settles. The team atmosphere reaches its peak at this time around the Devo Team Race campouts. Nerves are settled, tummies are full and the day of riding and smiling makes for quick work getting to sleep.
The fields were not that big at this years race, it seems with so many races to choose from in a season, a cyclist can only travel so much. It could be a dismal scene to some, but the junior athletes that showed up in Telluride were there to have fun and could not care less. The entire Devo squad ages 9-19, rode out of Town Park, caught the gondola to Mountain Village and split off in category groups to warm up for the 8am start. This is where the nerves are most present and in most need of being calmed. Coaches are there for them.
The racers race off the line in their start waves. All leaving in 2 minute intervals, most all doing one lap of the 12 mile course. The older juniors with the most experience leave first, with the youngest and least experienced to bring up the back of the field. Coaches walk in and out of the young athletes, grabbing jackets and arm warmers, giving final advice and high fives. The athletes roll out to course and take on the challenge that they have signed up for, the test that they choose to do.
Many of the Devo riders had great finishes. sprinting to the line as hard as possible, even 10 yards past the finish, sprinting only themselves. Smiling across the line, pushing the bars out for a last second effort, wheelies before and after, it was all so positive. Coaches, parents, teammates and competitors packed the finish shoot, telling race stories, comparing notes, taking photos and plenty of post race high fives. Devo had 3 State Championship titles during the cross country in Telluride, but by looking at the riders, you wouldn’t of known whom had won, they all seemed to have that same silly, painful yet satisfied look on their faces.
What went on out there on that race course that day, coaches, parents and spectators may never know or if known, will most likely be forgotten. But to those riders, these are the tests that make memories that are hard to forget, good or bad. With the Devo athletes having so much fun all weekend in Telluride, it seems hard to loose.
Note: The super d and downhill state championship racers were also held that weekend along with the pro cross country that followed the junior races. Devo had athletes and coaches participated in those as well. Devo U19er Mikala Smith unfortunately broke her collarbone during the pre-ride and in good spirits, had to abandon her attempt at her first race ever! U14er Lucas Robbins came to support his team with a broken wrist. Devo had 1 Jr Devo, 7 U14 boys and girls, 10 U19ers, 3 RMCF Sweet Elite Pro Team members and 8 Devo coaches in attendance. And 30 amazing family members!
State Champions-Kaylee Blevins Cat 1 15-18 XC, Robin Austin Cat 2 15-18 XC, Alumni Howard Grotts Pro Men, Alumni Grady James Cat 1 19-29.
Cross Country; Stephan Davoust 2nd, Levi Kurlander 3rd, Sepp Kuss DNF (flatted in the lead) Cat 1 15-18, India Waller 2nd Cat 1 15-18, Bryce Gordon 2nd, Will Berger 5th and Keenan Desplanques 6th in Cat 2 15-18, Galen Blair 3rd Cat 2 19-29, Keiren Eagan 4th and Ivan Sippy 8th Under 14, Camryn Sippy 3rd, Kayja Freeburn 4th, Marit May 5th, Carter Reiter 6th and Maddie Joe Robbins 7th in Under 14 Girls, Howard Grotts 1st Payson McElveen 4th Pro Men, Sarah Sturm 5th Pro Women, Brianne Marshall 2nd Cat 1 30-39
Super D; Stephan Davoust 4th, Sepp kuss 9th and Levi Kurlander 14th in the Junior Super D, Coach Chad 3rd Pro Men and Sarah Tescher 1st on day 2, Pro Women.
Downhill; Shane Ellis 2nd Under 14, Coach Lucas Lemaire 10th and Max Lowenstein 17th in Cat 1 19-29