Meet Junior Rider Sam Roach

This Friday marks the eighth week of Bear Development Team’s Junior Series! We are honored to dedicate our weekly post to the introduction of one member of the Bear Development Team.
Check in every week to get the inside scoop on Bear’s Junior Team!
This week, meet…


Racing Age: 17
Hometown: Roanoke, VA
Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL
Favorite Training Song: “Freaks and Geeks” by Childish Gambino
Best Post-Ride Snack: Almond Butter & Banana Toast

I’m pretty sure I was born on a bike. I never really remember when I started riding because my infatuation with speed is the thing only that occupies my earliest memories. My father was a speed junkie who raced cars, BMX, road crits, long road races, and now mountain bikes. Mom was a Marathon runner who has done about as many marathons as miles in one. I was born either to ride or run and since it allowed me to go faster, the bike was the obvious choice. I wish I could start my bio off with something that being on Bear doesn’t already tell you about me but cycling truly makes up my earliest of memories.

I started racing consistently at five and since then have kept up the same pace. Racing my bike is an addiction for me, not winning. The pain, competition, preparation, and adrenaline make up something that I can’t live without. Where I come across the line in relation to my competition has only ever been a small part of that addicting rush of racing. Going fast and doing my best brought wins just as every other Bear rider has a collection of, but winning, although motivating, was never as much the desire as simply going fast. I strive never to race a category I can win to better myself and to feed the motivation that keeps my fire burning.

In my early years, my life’s sole motivation was riding my bike way too fast every moment my life could spare. Although these early years shaped my abilities on the bike (and reshaped eight bones in my body), I regret not being more expansive. When I was in middle school, I fell in love with running track and grew an obsession with running the mile as fast as possible. It gained me a previously unfamiliar respect amongst my schoolmates. In eighth grade, I managed to run a sub-five-minute mile which ironically ended my spike and rubber career. After pushing my legs too hard, I developed a calf problem which has a name I cannot pronounce and made doctors tell me “never to run again.”

After my unpleasant endeavors in public school, I began attending The Miller School of Albemarle, Virginia. The Miller School is essentially a castle that houses a prestigious boarding school and around two hundred students representing seventeen different countries. Here, I discovered a love for photography, writing, and culture. Despite those self-defining passions given to me by the school, Miller’s high-level cycling team is what drew me to it the most. The team is made up of some of the most decorated junior riders from multiple different countries and an unrivaled dedication to making its athletes extraordinary. Freedom to ride every day and to travel for racing coupled with hands-on coaching from accomplished ex-pros made my career take off. Without the success cultivated by my coaches and schoolmates, racing for Bear might still be a distant dream.

My parents make this dream possible and I owe everything to them for their love and support (not to mention the genetics). My little sister is always there to make me laugh… especially at myself and, no matter how much we fight, I’d be lost without her. My grandpa has come to cheer me on at races nearly ten hours away and offers unconditional support no matter my performance or passion. When I’m stressed about racing or school, my best friends Aaron and Sabrina keep me grounded, offering motivation at every turn or falter. These people are the main frame of who I am and the roots of my success. Thanks to them I am, as ex-pro and genius trial-smith Andy Guptill always say, “living the dream!”


Meet Junior Rider Ruth Holcomb

This Friday marks the seventh week of Bear Development Team’s Junior Series! We are honored to dedicate our weekly post to the introduction of one member of the Bear Development Team.
Check in every week to get the inside scoop on Bear’s Junior Team!
This week, meet…


Racing Age: 15
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL
Favorite Training Song: “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
Best Post-Ride Snack: Watermelon

I always liked to ride my bike, but I didn’t decide that I really wanted to race until about 7th grade. I had jumped into a few local races, but had never really thought of it as one of my main sports. In seventh grade, I went to several races in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico and realized that I loved to ride. The next year, I went to even more races. Since fifth grade I had been racing under the guidance of my Durango Devo coaches who have helped me so much along the way.

I was born in Boulder, Colorado. I grew up loving the outdoors like most other people there. I went to a bilingual school there where I learned both English and Spanish. As a result from that, I speak both English and Spanish fluently. As for sports, I played soccer, swam, and rode bikes. I can tell you that at the time, I wasn’t a huge fan of biking unless my mom brought a lot of gummy bears. At age ten, my family decided to move down to Durango. I was originally very against the idea, but as soon as I went riding with their bike club, Durango Devo, I decided I loved Durango.

I now attend Durango High School. I enjoy math and science and hope to become an engineer. The Harry Potter book series is also my all time favorite series. When I’m not on my bike, I run for my high school’s cross country and track teams, and I nordic ski race. I also ride for the Durango Demons mountain bike team during the fall for NICA. Competing in all these different sports makes it easy to keep biking fun.

I live with my mom, my dad and my two sisters, Maggie, who is 12, and Betty who is 10. We love to ride bikes, hike, raft, and explore together. Maggie and Betty are also super into riding bikes and ride with Durango Devo. Durango is the perfect place for my family, with lots of mountains and trails to explore!

UCI World Cups, Canada Cups, Cal State Championships & More!

SoCal Race #5 Tehachapi Race Report

by Devin DeBruhl

Coming into the race the top four riders could all win the overall. I was sitting third in points and was so ready to race hard! I pre rode the course on Friday and had the course down. Again on Saturday I did some more laps and felt great on the course! It was technical with some solid climbs. I was very excited to wake up and race the next day. Sunday morning I knew the race was going to be hard and absolute brutal. I was never more amped up to race! Showed up to the line early and eager to get it started.

First lap I was sitting in front with around five riders leading setting a really fast pace. Onto the last long decent I managed to make a major gap of over a minute and felt great. The pace I set was one I could keep for the rest of the race. Then onto the first climb of second lap I got a minor side cramp which then turned into a major stomach cramp. So the rest of that lap and the next I held on for life waiting for my stomach to release. Going onto my last lap I felt weak, tired, and horrible. My stomach made me hard to breath and felt cramps all over. The only thing in my head was to “Never give up” as my coach said starting the lap. Why would I give up because of some pain. I was in fifth and onto the first climb I was ready to suffer to gain at least one more position. No one was in sight and had sixth sneaking up on me. Just locked out the Top Fuel and climbed as hard as I could like never before. Finally I saw fourth ahead of me! Let go of the brakes on the decent and caught up. Up the middle climb of the course I saw third and second. I had to give it my all to catch up to them. I hurt so bad at this point I couldn’t feel any worse so I went as hard as I can possibly pedal. To the last decent I was sitting in third. I knew there was only downhill and a few small climbs till the finish. On the downhill I figured to take major risks to catch up. Hit every line absolutely perfect. Right ahead of me was second and suffered with his pace on the climbs. The last opportunity to pass was the gnarley rock garden downhill into the finish. Somehow managed to pass on the gnar and get ahead. The finish was so close but so far away. I knew second was right behind me and it came into a sprint to the finish. The last sprint felt like I was going to explode! Keeping my position in second felt so great! I worked so hard and felt great battling my mind. Keeping positive thoughts while feeling horrible is what I learned during this race. I was two points off from the overall series that had gone to Jonah Sanchez. He truly deserved the win and am so stoked for him! For myself being a Sophomore keeping up with speedy Seniors like Jonah makes me feel great! Definitely looking forward to my next two years of racing with the SoCal League!

Thank you Bear Development Team for all of the support this year! Also many thanks to my coach Stephen Ettinger for the incredible help. My amazing high school coach Tony Gamberutt for telling me to never give up and helping like no one else! Julia Violich for inspiring me to do the best I can every time on course, training, or being a successful person! Thank you Trek, Bontrager, SRAM, Castelli, Fox, Oakley, Gu Energy, K edge, DZ Nuts, Rocktape, Camelbak, ESI, Crash Tag, and Scicon Bags!!!


VAHS Race #4 Report

by Sam Roach

The Virginia High School Mountain Bike Series is the state’s fastest and most competitive Junior racing. Pro rider’s such as Dimension Data’s Ben King and Hagens Berman Axeon’s Eddie Anderson are all alumni of the series. The series is most comparable to NICA but, in Virginia, winning the VA High School Series (VAHS) is much more of a challenge and an honor. The series is comprised of five races that showcase the best of Virginia’s race courses. These courses range from urban singletrack to world cup style mountain challenges. Every race makes for one heck of a show, especially when the varsity races take off!

Virginia racing is, for the most part, mountainous and rocky, but the most interesting race always comes with the uncharacteristically flat race number four. Race four is composed of long power sections broken up by twisty single track ones. The varsity race always ends in a sprint because riders implement road tactics to keep a group together and fly! Although this course makes for the most intense bar to bar racing of the season, it does not suit my climbers’ figure and love of rocky, rooty terrain. Despite this, I am always excited to trade paint at this race every spring! This spring, I got to do the race with a real varsity race team, The Miller School Endurance Team, backed by the best kids from around the country and even the world. I was more stoked than ever to line up on the first row and find my place in the pace line!

I was the series leader and that was going to make me the target for the entire race. I went out to really dial my warm up and expected to roll up to the start line a few minutes before the race started and claim my spot on the front row. Unfortunately, staging was set up unlike the previous races had been resulting in me starting in the very back of the forty rider field. Warming up so well had cost me and I sat at the start thinking that I’d certainly lost the overall lead. Not only that, I didn’t know how I was going to help my teammates from all the way in the back of the race.

When the countdown finished and the race was underway, I came to find that the jitters and dialed warm up made for an impeccable start! In the first hundred meter open section before the single track began, I had made it up to seventh wheel. The next open section yielded more passes and before I knew it, I was on the front with my teammate, Gentry Jefferson. We came up with a system to keep eachother moving as fast as possible on the course which involved hard pulls on the flats and perfect rhythm in single track. After and hour of hard racing, Gentry and I came across the line in a heart pounding sprint where I came out on top and he came a close second. It was an honor to work with my teammate to pull back a win from such an unfortunate starting position and to show our Miller School team strength in the series. I couldn’t have done it without his help and I was stoked to earn my school extra points for the overall standings.


12 Hours of Mesa Verde Race Report

by Ruth Holcomb

The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde happens to be one of my favorite races. Nestled between Mesa Verde National Park and some of the best riding in the Southwest, Montezuma fairgrounds is the perfect home base for this race. Not only is the race a great way to challenge yourself through 12 hours of hard work, it is an awesome family event. I have been participating in The 12 Hours of Mesa ever since my 5th grade year when I rode it with my mom on mother’s day. This year, both my parents, my sister, and I all participated in the event.

The night before the race, my family and our friends pitched camp at the Montezuma fairgrounds. Not only was there a large population of other Durango families at the race, you also get reunited with friends from all over the state. From the friends that I saw that day at school, to my best friends from 10 years ago, everyone is stoked to have an awesome time. The night before the race is full of fun and games. From volleyball to kickball, to cornhole, to playing cards, the energy level is always high. After romping around the fairgrounds for a few hours, I returned to my tent ready to race the next morning.

The next morning, I woke at about 6am with the sun already shining in my face. I could tell that it was gonna be a rad day. My teammates were driving over this morning and we were ready to race. Out team was called “The Mighty Llamacorns,” a team name we gave ourselves years ago that never changed. I was assigned the first lap for our team. In order to spread out the field, the race starts with a short run to the corral to grab your bike. At the start line, I met one of my coaches. We chatted and played some games until it was time to get lined up. I lucked out at the start. With over 200 people starting at once, I was still able to get a front line starting spot. I was still joking with my sister when the cannon went off for the start. The deafening sound of the cannon shocked me and it took me a minute to realize that it was time to go. As we funneled down the hill and onto the straightaway, I weaved in between people trying to make up the time I had lost at the start, but in this sea of people, I was just lucky not to get trampled. After another minute or so of running, I grabbed my bike from my teammate, Ce, and was off and away. We whizzed through the tunnel up to the Phils World trail system.

The Phils world trails are some of my favorite trails I have ever ridden. The mix between the flowy, fast tracks through the desert and the technical rock sections overlooking some beautiful areas guarantees that no matter how much you ride there, you are always entertained. As soon as you enter the trail system, you drop straight into a fast flowy descent. With over 200 people on the trail, it is difficult to get into a rhythm. Especially for the first five miles of the course, I had to be super aware of what was going on in front of me. This consisted of a lot of track standing, and taking alternate lines in order to pass people. I know these trails like the back of my hand and had no problem making my way through the crowds. After the first five or so miles, I was able to settle in and race through everything from the technical climbs that meander through the mesas to the speedy downhills.

After 18 miles and about an hour and a half, I had finished my lap. I handed off to Ce and she was off for her adventure. It was then that I found out that fellow Bear rider Maddie Jo who was signed up for our team was sick and unable to race. While normally I end up riding around three laps with a team of three, now it was just a team of two and it was time to prepare for a big day with four laps of the 18 mile loop.

The next two laps were just as fun, if not more fun as the first. By now, the race had spread out much more and you spent a lot of time out on the course by yourself just pedaling at whatever pace you pleased. There were times where you got a little lonely but for the most part, it was a great time. Ce and I held our lead from the beginning. Starting with ten minutes, and by the time I went out for my fourth lap, we were over an hour ahead. I was exhausted and not sure I could make it for another lap, but I told myself that as long as I finish, Ce and I would win. For the most part the lap was great. I took it at a slower pace. Things were going great until around mile 12, I was cruising through a technical section on the trail and flatted. After multiple failed attempts of fixing it due to complications, I decided to run my bike. These 6 miles out were brutal and there were many times where I considered stopping at search and rescue to get a ride in. I just told myself that I needed to finish for my team. With about a half mile to go, I was running down the final hill and I saw two of my sister’s friends running up the trail. They yell at me to take the extra bike they brought up and tell me they will meet me at the finish. Ecstatic about being on a bike again, I took off. Seeing the finish line was about the best feeling I had felt in a long time. I was welcomed back by hugs a from my mom and Ce.

Even after doing this race for so many years, every time brings a new challenge to the table. This race was an especially challenging year yet also one of the most fun years yet. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for the Mighty Llamacorns.

Meet Junior Rider Mina Ricci

This Friday marks the sixth week of Bear Development Team’s Junior Series! We are honored to dedicate our weekly post to the introduction of one member of the Bear Development Team.
Check in every week to get the inside scoop on Bear’s Junior Team!
This week, meet…


Racing Age: 18
Hometown: Woodacre, CA
Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL
Favorite Training Song: “Son of Sam” by Azad
Best Post-Ride Snack: Avocado Toast

It’s kind of funny now to think that I didn’t want to mountain bike.

In fact, I was vehemently, heatedly against the idea. For five years, up until my sophomore year in high school, I’d been an avid soccer player. Midfield had been my home–I saw myself going to college with a soccer scholarship and graduating from my gold-level team to the professional leagues.

That all ended when we moved to Nevada City. A small town south-west of Tahoe, Nevada City was the 16th place I’d moved to in my lifetime. My family was simply born to travel; my younger brother was born in Ireland, we moved every few years, and we’d lived in Costa Rica twice. I loved traveling and exploring the world, but sometimes it had its drawbacks.

Because of town’s small size, the soccer team wasn’t as developed, and I ended up sportless for awhile–until my dad found out about the local high school mountain bike club and aggressively convinced (AKA forced) me to join.

That’s right. Forced.

I’d always loved riding mountain bikes on the weekends occasionally with my family, but the idea of dedicating hours upon hours to training every week in the cold and rain (Nevada City winters are brutal) only to race once in awhile did not appeal to me whatsoever.

But after three weeks of riding with some incredible people on amazing trails and after winning my first high school race as a sophomore (much to my surprise) I quickly fell in love with mountain bike racing. Through the next year, I rapidly ascended through the ranks to win many high school races, was accepted onto the Bear Development Team (go Bear Dev!), and then traveled with USAC to Canada!

I went from a novice rider who rode once a month to an avid racer training 5 days a week. I found a sport and activity that I truly love and will continue to do for many, many years to come.

But despite my absolute adoration for mountain biking and the many hours I spent devoted to that sport, I have several other interests to fill my little spare time. I am an artist–I have been drawing and painting since before I can remember, and am currently taking studio art classes at my local community college. In addition to art, I work as an independent journalist specializing in sports related articles, and hope to major in journalism in college!

Together, art, journalism, and mountain biking make up who I am–a creative, expressive, highly athletic dork who hopes to continuously improve myself and help others! So here’s to many more years of having fun with incredible people (like my friends in the Bear Dev gang) and simply riding my bike!

Meet Junior Rider Tai-Lee Smith

This Friday marks the fifth week of Bear Development Team’s Junior Series! We are honored to dedicate our weekly post to the introduction of one member of the Bear Development Team.
Check in every week to get the inside scoop on Bear’s Junior Team!
This week, meet…


Racing Age: 15
Hometown: Breckenridge, CO
Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel 9.9 RSL
Favorite Training Song: “Would You Ever” by Skrillex
Best Post-Ride Snack: Almond butter rice cake with chia seeds

I grew up in Breckenridge, Colorado, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, dirt biking, playing soccer, hiking, and biking. The first sport that I was really into was gymnastics. I did gymnastics for 6 years until 6th grade, when the time commitment and driving became too much. But with the growing biking community, there were lots of races and tons of trails to ride on.

Starting off, biking was always an activity to do with my family to have fun and get outside. But when I was seven I started to do competitive racing against my sisters in the local series. The series was something fun to do over the summer where I could hang out with friends and stay after for the prizes/food. This definitely started my interest in racing bikes.

As of two years ago, I started to race the bigger races outside of Colorado. Traveling with my family I went to nationals in Mammoth, California. Last fall I raced the Colorado High School League which was super fun. I got to race some of the fastest girls in CO and make tons of new friends. Finishing off the season by racing JV at states against my teammate Ruth Holcomb.

Tai-Lee and her Bear Dev teammate Ruth!

When I’m not biking, I love to be outside with my family, friends, and dogs. In the summer, hiking 14ers and dirt biking on the jeep roads are some of my favorite things, as well as paddle boarding on Lake Dillon. When it starts to snow again, I ski the mountains/ski resorts and snow bike for fun.

Competitively, I nordic ski for SNSC in the Rocky Mountain League, and this season I got to race at nationals in Soldier Hollow, Utah. As of now, nordic and biking are my main sports and great cross-training for each other. Over the school year, I play soccer for SHS and ski for the high school nordic team as well. Roller skiing and nordic training over the summer is something I have to balance out with my bike training. But I only really get back into skiing after the fall high school cycling season is over. When I’m not doing some type of physical activity, I enjoy going out to eat with my friends, as well as trying out new recipes.