CBMST downhill bike team back in action for summer 2024 season

“In addition to focusing on the skills of riding and racing, we put heavy emphasis on physical conditioning” 

By Than Acuff

For the second summer in a row, the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) has a contingent of downhill bikers training and racing both locally and throughout the west.

CBMST has been almost entirely snow sports centric and has seen massive growth throughout the years with over 200 local kids involved in the CBMST winter programming last year. But when Eddy Cohn took over as the CBMST manager prior to the 2022/2023 ski season, he said from the get-go he wanted to bring downhill racing back into the fold.

“When I came on in the fall, I said I’m going to be pushing pretty hard for a downhill biking team,” says Cohn.

Thanks to support for Cohn’s idea from Vail Resorts and Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), the CBMST downhill bike team started last summer and returns to action this summer with 11 kids ages 8-16 years old on the competitive bike team with Cal Hill as the head coach.

“Cal grew up on two wheels racing BMX as a little guy, and riding Moto around the Vail Valley with his dad growing up,” says Cohn. “He started racing DH at Western, where he made the Nationals Team. Cal is a tremendously talented athlete and an incredible mentor for the young athletes of the Gunnison Valley.”

“This bike team is very special to me, I care about the kids like family,” says Hill. “All the kids get along and all the kids absolutely shred on their mountain bikes!”

While the CBMST winter programs offer a variety of levels for kids, the downhill program is specific to training with the intent of racing.

“The Mountain Sports Team downhill program is tailored to competitive racers,” says Cohn. “We train three days a week with a mix of technical skills, race craft and physical conditioning. Everyone on the team will be racing.”

The kids have an abrupt switch from skiing to biking and Cohn and Hill tailor the season start-up ritual to get the kids up to speed with attention spent on all aspects of biking.

“We start every year with major attention spent on bike set-up. Kids grow so much from year to year, both physically and as riders. It’s vitally important to make sure their bikes are set-up appropriately as the season begins,” explains Cohn. “During the early phase of the season we focus on the fundamental skills of mountain biking, ride stance, bike/body separation and pressure control.”

As the season continues, Cohn and Hill switch gears into race mode getting the kids ready for the rigors of competing at the highest level possible.

“After a couple weeks getting back up to speed, we shift our focus towards the demands of racing,” says Cohn. “How to read a track, race strategy, how to build, control and maintain speed. In addition to focusing on the skills of riding and racing, we put heavy emphasis on physical conditioning. We finish every practice with some high intensity intervals to prepare athletes for the demands of a downhill race run.”

The CBMST athletes have a full schedule of racing as part of the Downhill Rockies Series that started the first week of June when they headed to Angel Fire, New Mexico, for the first race of the season. With the local downhill trails not open yet, the athletes and Hill headed to the venue a week prior to get their race legs back.

“With the trails being closed early season we took advantage of the early opening at Angel Fire to allow our team to get back in the saddle,” says Hill. “We shook the cobwebs off and realized we didn’t forget how to ride bikes.”

They returned to Angel Fire the following weekend for their first races of the season and laid down a great start to the race season with five of the CBMST athletes stepping onto the podium in the respective race classes.

“It’s a difficult challenge for CB kids to dive right into the race season, so quickly after the ski season,” says Cohn. “That said, the kids did a great job. Overall, a very successful weekend from a race results perspective, but more importantly the weekend served as a great starting point for the season in terms of everyone’s riding level and race craft.”

The athletes are now back to training on the CBMR downhill tracks and then hit the road for their next race in Winter Park on July 21-22. CBMR will then host the fourth stop of the Downhill Rockies Series on August 3-4, and then the kids head to Keystone on August 24-25 for another weekend of racing and close out the season in Purgatory on September 15-16.

Check Also

Consistent bats pace Pitas to win over Kochevar’s in softball

Playoffs start next week By Than Acuff Here we go again. Pitas avenged a loss …