Mountain Bikers Ride for the Brand


Dalton Flores

Gavin Fluegge goes off a jump and throws a whip through a bush at Waterworks in Rancho Santa Margarita. He has been biking for two years and now is sponsored by and rides for the Intense race team.

Dalton Flores, Staff Writer

Cole Smith and Gavin Fluegge are sophomores at San Juan Hills High School. They are both members of the Mountain Bike Club and are top tier riders for their age group.

Smith races cross country, which focuses on muscle endurance. More than 75% of the race is spent climbing up mountains with some mild downhill usually at the end of the race.

When it came to inspiration, Smith said, “My family always rode, and about when I turned 13, I really started to get into competing and watching the pros race.”

Smith got second place in his first race of the season in Lake Perris, which has kept his spot in the call ups for future races as long as he continues to do well. A call up means you get to start at the head of the pack at the beginning of the race, giving you an advantage over the slower riders.

“It was really fun, it is cool to see all the hard work I’ve have been putting in for the past few months starting to pay off,” said Smith.

Despite going through rides as long as 50 miles, Smith continues to look forward to more racing and training with his friends.

“A few big races I have coming up is a 50 mile race in Carson City, National west coast series, and the rest of the NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) races,” said Smith.   

For those interested in getting into mountain biking, Cole recommends “to start off slow and take it easy until you have the basics down before you get into technical trails.”

Fluegge, on the other hand, does a completely different type of mountain bike riding. His races are 100% downhill. Instead of relying on endurance and strategy, he relies on raw skill and strength.

His interest in riding sprung from his love to exercise and his passion for the adrenaline rush of flying down the mountain and hitting jumps.

With such a physical sport, there are high risks for injuries. Fluegge’s worst injury has been breaking his wrist in two spots and dislocating it, which was caused by being launched off his bike and landing straight on his arm.

His next big race is in Whistler, Canada during Crankworx on May 11th and 12th.

His talent for the sport has gotten him recognition by fellow athletes, and recently he was even offered a sponsorship.

Fluegge said, “[The sponsorship] was super sick, they are there to support you and it helps you out a lot at the races when you get flat tires or break parts. It makes you feel like you are involved in something more than just riding a bike down the mountain fast.”