Local junior mountain bikers branch out at Boulder
Last spring, junior mountain bike phenomenon Taylor Shelden of the Vail Mountain School jumped on his dad’s road bike just to get a little early-season cross training. Little did he know where it would take him.
Last weekend, Shelden finished second out of a strong field of 30 juniors at the Carter Lake Road Race, a 17-mile open road race in Boulder. Shelden accomplished the feat in the first road race of his life – outside the Maverick Sports Time Trial Series – and he learned the technique of racing with a peloton, the large rolling pack of cyclists at the heart of most road races.
He wasn’t alone in the top 10, either, as friend and teammate Kevin Soller of Breckenridge finished fourth, while Eagle County teammates Brad Bingham and Josh Smith finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
“It’s a lot more team-oriented than mountain biking,” Shelden said. “It was actually pretty easy in the first 15 miles. And then, in the last two miles, there was a hill and it all split apart and there was a sprint.”
Soller added: “We talked tactics with everyone for a while. Riding in the group was pretty interesting. I started bumping elbows because there was one kid who was kind of squirrely and bumping into everyone.”
The boys are part of a new six-person junior development program on the Century Tel Team, a Vail-based bicycle team that is part of the much broader Vail Racing and Development Club (VRAD).
Shelden and Bingham are 17 years old, while Smith is 18 and Soller is 15. The Carter Lake stars are joined on the team by Eagle County 17-year-old Nick Certeza and Arvada 16-year-old Bryce Lawson.
“It’s a new venue for them and they’re excited about it,” said Stacey Shelden, Taylor’s mother. “This team wants to take them to the next level which is really exciting.”
VRAD organizer John Edwards discovered the boys after spending last summer checking race results and seeing their names in the top-three of many races.
“We are so blessed with this group of kids we have racing for us; their families have just been wonderful,” Edwards said.
Edwards, a veteran of team and race promotion, built the junior team to compliment an established adult team known as Eagle Valley Racing and Development, created last summer by Roy Pickavance, a Vail cyclist and physical therapist with the Steadman Hawkins Clinic.
When Edwards came on board after moving to Vail from Florida, he spearheaded a junior program while, at the same time, landing the national telecommunications company, Century Tel, as a title sponsor for the racing team.
He also expanded Eagle Valley Racing and Development into a broad cycling club and events promotion company, which he and Pickavance renamed, “VRAD.”
“It’s been quite a ride the way this thing has come together,” he said. “It’s been extremely gratifying. I’ve done this sort of stuff before, but I’ve never had this level of talent before.”
After making a few phone calls to let prospective riders know about the team, Edwards showed up at an initial meeting to find – much to his surprise and delight – that not only did the kids show up, but all of the parents did as well.
“If we could’ve picked a perfect group of kids and the perfect parents, we couldn’t have done a better job here,” Edwards said.