Open with best result ever
by Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Devo High School race team opened the 2019 high school race season in top form as they took second place at the opening race in Nathrop on Sunday, August 25. It was the highest team finish for the program at any race since its inception.
The team has 21 riders this year, with coaches Jenny Smith and Torrey Carroll sharing the role as head coach. In addition, they have a couple of assistant coaches and several parent ride leaders to help keep the team on point. They opened the pre-season strong, as coaches asked the athletes to come into the pre-season workouts starting July 29 on pace to build from there.
“We really encouraged them to build mileage and stamina over the summer,” says Jenny Smith.
Once they got together and hit the local trails and roads for workouts, the coaches continued to emphasize certain aspects of the program they wanted to see this season.
“One of biggest things this season is team participation,” says Smith. “We stressed attendance at workouts and races and one of the main goals is that kids are on board.”
That dynamic took hold throughout the workouts in August and certainly bore fruit in the first race as all 21 athletes lined up for their races in Nathrop.
“I noticed that once the season started, everybody came to the party,” says Smith. “The energy has been really positive.”
But race day can run the gamut of issues that no one can truly prepare for. Especially considering it was the first race ever for the freshmen on the team and the first race of the season for everyone else. As a result, the coaches gave the riders an over-arching theme for the day of races.
“There are a lot of unknown factors so our main emphasis was that each rider do the best they could do and contribute to the team,” says Smith.
The athletes followed that mantra to the word from the standout results to the riders that suffered mid-race mishaps but remained focused to finish the race. In the end, all 21 riders completed their races and that played out in the overall team result.
“It played out great,” says Smith. “Super successful all around.”
Senior varsity racer Olivia Gordon and JV class racer sophomore Sarah Bivens had the top results on the team. Gordon battled against an incredibly stacked field to post a fifth place finish and step on the podium.
“She’s been training really hard for that,” says Smith. Then there’s Bivens. She stormed onto the high school bike racing scene as one of the top racers in the freshmen class last year. Typically riders then move onto the sophomore class for a season and then jump into the JV class. Bivens bypassed the sophomore class and jumped right into the JV races this season and opened the year winning the first race of the season.
“She really took three steps up from last year,” says Smith.
On the other end of things were a handful of riders who overcame adversity in their races to remain focused and finished. Marko Alling made it through all four laps of his varsity race with a busted seat post, Emma Jean Lovett survived a bike crash in her race to rally to the finish line and Math Alagna’s chain got sucked into his cassette at the start of his first high school race but he did what needed to be done to get back in the saddle and make it across the finish.
“It was impressive how they all came through it,” says Smith.
And, ultimately, all of those efforts—from the podium to the carnage and everyone in between who also finished—helped pace the team to second place overall.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” says Smith.
The team will continue with its training regimen the next two weeks as they prepare for the second race of the season, the Cloud City Challenge in Leadville on Sunday, September 8.