“He stayed motivated and kept training”
Mother Nature dealt a serious blow to the Colorado high school mountain bike season. Just as athletes were gearing up for the state championships, a rash of storms crushed Colorado, forcing not one but two delays of the final race. In fact, with little improvement in the weather expected, there was some talk that the state championships may never happen.
Fortunately, race organizers rallied and saw a window for the race on Sunday, November 13 in Castle Rock.
The delay pulled the wind out of the sails of racers across the state, including here in Crested Butte.
“Seven of our riders were planning on going until it was delayed,” says Alpine Orthopaedics high school mountain bike team head coach Torrey Carroll.
It may have been different if the local riders had a chance to at least ride their bikes to prepare, but with the local trails snowy and the temperatures dropping, motivation waned.
Varsity riders Ian Kelly and Josh Gallen kept the faith but when Kelly fell ill, Gallen was left to carry the torch alone.
Gallen mixed his training, riding outside when he could and spending a majority of his time in the gym on the spin bike.
He remained focused and was determined to finish his season with a showing at the state championships.
“Josh was definitely impressive, keeping the faith,” says Carroll. “It was pretty cool. He stayed motivated and kept training.”
Going into the race, coaches Carroll and Jason Stubbe were looking for Gallen to peak and post his best result of the season.
While only nine riders made it to the varsity state championships, they were the cream of the crop for the state, aside from Kelly, so the competition was fierce.
“The top five fastest guys were there,” says Carroll.
While it didn’t snow, it was windy, with kids getting blown off their bikes during training rides the day before, on Saturday. The winds subsided a little for race day on Sunday but still had a massive effect on the race.
Gallen charged off the start line to stay with the lead group for the first half of the race but as the others pulled away, he was left to battle the winds solo.
“When that happens and it’s windy, the gap will grow,” explains Carroll. “While the four guys up front can work together, there was no protection from the wind for Josh.”
Gallen kept hammering away through the wind and when one of the riders in the lead group fell off the back, Gallen reeled him in on the final lap and passed him to finish fourth with a time of 1:28 on the 19-mile long course.
Gallen’s efforts in the final race of the season bumped him up into fifth place in the overall season standings. Despite missing the final race, Kelly finished his year in sixth overall among varsity riders.
Team Alpine Orthopaedics sophomore riders Tristan Kraatz and Michael Ryan placed 20th and 29th overall. Derek Schomler led the local freshmen athletes, placing 11th in the overall standings. Emerson Wohlers took 13th, Ozzie Scott 14th and Colton Schnaitter finished his season 26th overall.
“It was definitely a good second year for the program and the kids,” says Carroll. “It felt a lot more like a team this year. We had some team spirit and camaraderie going.”