Since late last summer, the Routt County Riders have made it a priority to inspire young mountain bikers in Steamboat Springs to pursue competitive racing.
Last weekend at the state high school and middle school championships at Cheyenne Mountain, those efforts were rewarded.
Adam Parke led a team of three riders sponsored by the Routt County Riders to a second-place finish in the state's middle school division. Another rider, Emily Keiss, who lives in Craig and also is sponsored by the group, placed fourth in the girls high school race.
"This is a great weekend for riders from this area," supporter Larry Johnson said. "This is what we were hoping for when we formed the Routt County Riders Junior Mountain team this summer."
Parke and Emily Keiss are members of that team.
Johnson said the idea behind forming the four-boy, two-girl squad at the end of last year's Town Challenge Mountain Bike Series wasn't to win state titles but to attract more young riders to the sport.
"I thought, 'Wow this is pretty cool,'" Parke said about being named to the team.
The boy's team includes Parke, Bo Randolph, Wiley Thayer and Greg Ingalls. Emily Keiss and Anna Anderson were named to the girls team.
All of the riders were given jerseys and rewarded with a trip to Utah to watch 24 hours of Moab Mountain Bike Race.
"Watching those guys race made me want to go out and do some longer races," Parke said. "Someday, I would love to ride professionally."
The Routt County Riders sponsored four racers (two of whom are on the team) at the state championships last weekend. The NORBA-sanctioned event was hosted by the Front Rangers mountain bike club for middle school and high school racers.
The 13-year-old Parke led the boys' efforts with a third-place finish in the 22-racer field. His teammate, 12-year-old Bryce Gordan, placed fourth, and David Keiss, who lives in Craig, placed fifth. Gordan and Keiss are not members of the junior team but were sponsored by the group during this race
Cheyenne Mountain won the middle school title with 9 points. The Routt County team placed second with 12 points.
"I was kind of surprised," Parke said. "I wasn't really sure if we would finish the race (where athletes road for 35 minutes around an eight-mile course, plus one lap) when it started."
Johnson said he was thrilled the Steamboat team did so well in the race and hopes to take more riders to the race again next year.
The event featured 25 middle school racers and 40 high school riders.
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