NEWS

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Sydney Palmer-Leger

It’s that time of year again!

We are honored to introduce our new team members for the upcoming 2019 season in a featured newsletter each Friday.

Check in every week to get the inside scoop!

www.beardevteam.com

This week, meet…

SYDNEY PALMER-LEGER

Racing Age: 17

Hometown: Park City, UT

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Top Fuel

Favorite Training Song: Jump Around – House of Pain

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Chocolate Coconut ProBar

I have been mountain biking since I could walk. Some of my earliest memories are out on the trails with my family and my dogs. It only made sense for me to ride and compete in something that I am very passionate about. Another reason I got into mountain biking is that  I have always wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps, so when he joined Nordic skiing and mountain biking I wanted to do exactly what he did. Ever since my first mountain bike race on a little loop at the bottom of Deer Valley in Park City, Utah  I have always loved the excitement and adrenaline that you get when you compete. I have been racing since I was eight years old and have loved it ever since.  The thing I love most about mountain biking is all the amazing opportunities and people that you meet when you compete around the country.

When I am off the bike I live in Sun Valley, Idaho for school and cross-country skiing. As well as being a competitive mountain biker I am also a competitive Nordic skier. I have traveled all around the country and have competed in Finland for the Scandinavian cup to compete against the best Junior athletes. When I am not biking or skiing I love to bake, take photos, and be outside with my family and my dog Tux.

Challenges that I have overcome in my life is moving to a new place and a new school where I only knew a few people. I moved from my childhood home to Sun Valley, Idaho. Even though I knew it was the right decision it was still difficult. It has been an adjustment living away from my dad who works in Park City who travels up whenever he can. 

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Haley Randel

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team.

This week, meet…

HALEY RANDEL

Racing Age: 17

Hometown: Mill Valley, CA

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Procaliber 9.9

Favorite Training Song: Miss Atomic Bomb – The Killers

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Avocado

I am lucky to live in the birthplace of mountain biking, which is especially relevant because it feels like I’ve been riding bikes since birth. My parents got me excited about road riding when I was little. I loved riding with them, but soon discovered mountain biking. About five years ago I began riding with a group after school, having fun trying to keep up with the 8th grade boys. My skills and fitness quickly improved, so much so that I needed a new group to chase. That was perfect timing because I got invited to ride with the Redwood High School mountain bike team the following year. I was absolutely terrified of riding with high schoolers, but quickly discovered how awesome the team and the people are. Riding with the Redwood team introduced me to the wild idea of XC mountain bike racing. Racing sounded kind of crazy, but I couldn’t resist. I started out with some local Wednesday night races and fell madly in love. My love for knobby tires and speed has only grown.


On the rare occasion that I’m not glued to a bike, I can be found in the desert north of Reno, Nevada. This is where I trade in my two wheels for four legs and go fox hunting. Fox hunting is essentially galloping around the desert on horseback, following a pack of hounds that are chasing a coyote. I also enjoy flying little airplanes and traveling. Traveling with friends to go on adventures is the best. Especially when bikes, camping, and pancake rocks are involved.

Last season was my first full race season and it was awesome. There were lots of valuable learning experiences as well as a ridiculous amount of fun racing for Redwood and Bear (at the end of the season). I am lucky to be a part of a competitive yet supportive community and am looking forward to a fun filled season racing in the NICA NorCal league and chasing UCI junior points. There’s so much opportunity and potential waiting out on the course!

Meet Junior Bear Athlete Gabbi Richardson

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team.

This week, meet…

GABBI RICHARDSON

Racing Age: 17

Hometown: Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Race Bike of Choice: Top Fuel 9.9

Favorite Training Song: Connection – One Republic

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Beef jerky

My road to mountain biking racing was a rocky one, to say the least. My parents were enthralled in the sport before I was born, but didn’t introduce it to my brother and me until we were around 12 and 10 years old. It became a weekly family activity; though as most stubborn and lazy 10 year olds would, I absolutely hated it. Every weekend for almost three years, my parents had to drag me out kicking and screaming—quite literally—in order to get me to ride my bike. Oh, how quickly things changed! My parents introduced me to Strava, an app that allows me to compare my segment times to the people I follow, and the very next ride I set out to beat a family friend’s time on a climbing segment. Soon, I wanted to oust my brother’s achievements, committing myself to climbing to our local mountains and completing the full 50 Mile Ride for Rwanda. That summer my dad convinced me to do my first ever race, one from the Over the Hump series. I had great success, which only fueled me to keep racing. I joined the NICA SoCal League my eighth grade year and, just like that, I started to love riding my bike! My parents’ relentless efforts to make me partake in family bonding and my own extreme competitiveness had led me to the very passion that I can’t imagine living without today.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born healthy, and I have never had any physical setbacks; though, beginning in my middle school years, I’ve struggled with my mental health. I have allowed anxiety, depression, and lack of self-confidence to have such an impact on my life that it began to change who I was; I lost myself into a spiral of self-doubt and hatred until I hit rock bottom my freshman year of high school, where my road almost ended. I have since made improvements—leaps—in my mental state; reminding myself to keep my head up and to keep going; of course, not without falling down here and there.

Cycling itself helped pull me out of the hole I dug for myself, thus the importance and passion I have for my sport going deeper than just “stoke factor”—though now there’s plenty of that too! Nowadays I train almost daily with my dad, the two of us closer to each other now more than ever.

Off the bike and when I’m not doing homework, I love to expand or reread my bookshelf full of my favorite authors. I’m also an avid writer; in whatever spare time I have, I love to develop story lines full of plot twists, with characters, events and nuances that make my novel more complex.

Meet U23 Bear Athlete Caleb Swartz

Every week we will introduce a new member of the Bear Development Team.

This week, meet…

CALEB SWARTZ

Racing Age: 20

Hometown: Madison, WI

Race Bike of Choice: Trek Procal 9.9 SL

Favorite Training Song: In My Mind – Dynoro

Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Smoothie


I am from Madison, WI. I learned how to cross-country ski when I was two, how to ride a two-wheeler when I was four, and started playing soccer in kindergarten. Both of my parents had raced for years and were avid cyclists. They brought me to my first cyclocross race when I was nine, and the next year, I did my first mountain bike race. I earned a medal, which I thought was pretty cool – and from then on, I was hooked.

I continued to race both cyclocross and mountain locally in Wisconsin as well as traveling to national championships. At nationals, I was always one of the very smallest kids in the field and got my butt handed to me every time, but I loved to race and it was fun! In 2014, I decided I liked racing more than soccer and started working with a coach. Luckily around the same time I started to grow, which, combined with structured training for the first time, helped a great deal!

In 2016, I fully committed to my cyclocross season as a last year 17-18 junior. I traveled to Europe three times to race junior world cups and made the 2017 cyclocross world championship team in Bieles, Luxembourg! The rest of 2017, I went full gas into my last year as junior for mtb and won the short track national championship title in Snowshoe, WV and made the mtb world championship team in Cairns, Australia. 

I now attend Marian University in Indianapolis where I am pursuing a biology degree and racing both collegiately and professionally. Cycling had undoubtedly grown my love for the environment and spending time in nature. So, I am focusing on environmental conservation and get to spend a lot of time in our eco-lab here on campus. It’s no joke trying to balance organic chemistry and racing every single weekend in a row for months on end, but my sister attends Marian as well with similar aspirations (I copied her) and helps me a lot! 

I’m looking forward to finishing off my second u23 cyclocross season and then taking on my second u23 MTB season as a new member of Bear Dev Team!

Colorado Cyclocross State Championships

by U23 Athlete Ellen Campbell

Two weeks before USAC Cyclocross Nationals 2.0 in Louisville, KY, myself and the Fort Lewis College cycling team headed up to Parker, CO. Our mission was to take the collegiate women’s and men’s A win, which would grant us a front row call-up at nationals.

We arrived in Parker after a 7-hour drive from Durango and settled into our hotel. Our races were in the afternoon on both days and the high temperature for the weekend was around 35 degrees. The course was at an equestrian park with packed out sand corners and lots of short punchy hills. They had set up a fast-paced course with very little off-the-bike features. There was one steep and short run-up and one set of log barriers. Some of the top racers could ride the entire course without getting off the bike. This was a power course and the key would be to hit the corners as fast and smooth as possible. Although this course was not technical, I was excited to race.

On Saturday, we raced the collegiate race. Us girls raced with about 4 other junior girls, there were about 8 of us total. It was a good, fast start, Katja took off and raced alone for the first laps. For the first few laps I sat in and worked with the other girls in the chase. I found myself learning with every lap, where to take the inside line, where to sprint and even where to rest. I even figured out which obstacles, like the run up, was easiest for me to ride or to run. Eventually, I caught Katja and we worked together with another junior. I made a couple small mistakes in the middle of the race but soon found my groove and was able to finish the race strong. In the end, we accomplished our goal and I secured the front row call up with a win followed by Katja and then another Fort Lewis gal.

Next up was Sunday’s open race on the same course. I had little to no expectations for myself for this race because it was a strong field with a few world cup riders and women that had been racing since September. I had the last call up on the back row, so for the first few laps I just worked on moving up and staying smooth. As the race progressed, I got stronger. Luckily, I knew all the lines from Saturday’s race, which really helped me figure out when to push harder and when to sit in. The raced finished with a little battle between us 3 Fort Lewis girls. I finished 7th and Katja finished just behind in 9th.

Overall, it was an exciting weekend filled with important race experience and lots of fun with the team. I’m looking forward to a challenging and action-packed national championships in Louisville, KY.