Team Athletic Mentors

Meet Charlotte Rosinski

October 21st, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Charlotte Wright-Rosinski

Hi, my name is Charlotte Rosinski and I’m from Highland, Michigan. I’m currently 14 years old and in 9th grade at Milford High School with a few other members from Team Athletics Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD). I’ve been cycling since I was in 3rd grade, but I guess I’ve been on a bike longer than the 3rd grade. I would say that the spark for cycling really started the summer after 3rd grade, when I joined my school district’s mountain bike club where I was able to learn skills that have stuck with me and made many friends that have also stuck with me.

I have raced with MiSCA since I started mountain biking on the Huron Valley United Racing team, and in the 2021 season I achieved the Advanced Middle School Girls Champion title. I’m currently racing on the HVUR Varsity team. This is my first year on TAM Junior Development, and I joined because many of my friends on HVUR had either joined or suggested that I should join the team. I was really drawn to the team because I felt like I had continuously been growing as a cyclist, but I really needed people to help direct my growth which I feel the TAMJD team has really helped with.

My goals for races overall this year are to try to learn a bit more about racing and place well. To be more specific, I want to do well in the elite category at Peak2peak and try to win my age group at Iceman. Similar to the non-MiSCA races this year I want to place 3rd overall and top 5 per year, but I also want to treat this year as a learning experience. I’ve been racing the Varsity category as a freshman with people who are a few years older and I guess you could say “wiser” in racing than me, so I’m really just excited to be racing people that I looked up to just a couple of years ago.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite riding place but I would probably say either Pontiac Lake, Highland, or any of the trails the team rode in Colorado during the Fort Lewis College camp we attended this summer . My favorite race that I have done is probably the USA Cycling MTB Nationals or the USAC/UCI Englewood races that I, and the members of the Junior Development team, visited this year. My favorite thing about riding is that it has made me closer with a lot of people and I have loved the places I have gotten to go to that I probably would never have gone to, like Brevard, North Carolina where we had our TAMJD training camp in March this year.

My favorite things about racing go hand-in-hand with simply riding, but with that I have loved seeing how much I have improved over time and all of the opportunities I have gotten just from racing that I am so grateful for. This year with cycling I have been able to do my first road race and gravel races, and I would really like to try to do more gravel and road racing because so far I’ve really enjoyed them and their atmosphere. Racing has become an outlet for me and I’m so grateful for the things I’ve learned about myself from it, like the fact that I am very competitive and won’t give up, I have to use proper nutrition, and I like to be very talkative with my competitors/friends after races, not before. Thanks to TAMJD, I have noticed growth in my riding and racing that I don’t think I could’ve accomplished as quickly alone.


Catching Up with Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development

October 10th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Terry Ritter

An interview with program director Terry Ritter

The first simple question is, what is “junior development”?

In cycling, riders under the age of 19 are considered in the “Junior” class. Our program focuses on developing these athletes in this age bracket, starting at around 8th grade through 12th, to improve their racing and skill, while also giving them a variety of opportunities in cycling.

What is unique about TAMJD versus other junior programs?

It’s hard to speak for other programs, but one focus we have is on Michigan riders, right now primarily the east side of the state. We also have a coaching company (Athletic Mentors) tied into the program, which means we have the ability to offer this valuable service to the racers for a very reasonable price. And, we have an established Elite level cycling within the larger team so our kids that progress that far as Juniors can experience that aspect as well.

TAM has a history of rider development. How has the program evolved?

There was a time when we primarily had juniors that did road racing. But, our team founders and myself, though experienced in road racing, came from the MTB (Mountain Biking) side. That’s really the best place to start if you want to develop an all-around racer. MiSCA is a MTB scene, and what we do is support that discipline while giving our kids exposure to road riding. Presently, the most popular sport is gravel, and we promote that by racing some of those events as well as hone the skills needed there with group road riding. And some of the kids take to road racing from that. In many ways, this is what TAM has always done: create all around racers that compete on whatever they are riding at the time. It’s great for fitness and keeps them fresh!

Where are most of the group’s riders coming from?

With the explosion of MiSCA (Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association), which is the only resource in the state with a youth-only racing series, the JD program has been able to attract some of the more serious athletes from this large pool. One team in particular, Huron Valley United Racing, has produced 7 JD athletes over the past 4 years. We do have 2 other teams that have contributed riders as well.

What is the staff structure of the program?

While I am the head, I am fortunate to have Tina Meyer, who is a TAM teammate and parent of two of our multi-year racers, as a resource. Dan Caldwell is big with recruiting and he’s involved with the HVUR program, and Daniel Yankus helps with development as the captain of our Elite team and also a volunteer with the HVUR group.

What have the last few seasons looked like?

4 years ago we only had Kellen Caldwell on our team. He’s a once-in-ten-years rider who many of the kids looked up to in MiSCA. The next year he was joined by Hunter Post. The following year Kellen left for college and we’d gained enough recognition from serious riders that we had 6 total riders in ‘21. This season we retained those and added 5 additional members for a total of 11 (7 male, 4 female). Each year we’ve been able to do more with the group. This year included a spring break training camp in NC, a national level team MTB race in Wisconsin, a national level road criterium series, and then 9 athletes going to USAC National MTB Championships in Winter Park, CO as well as a week long camp at Fort Lewis College.

What are some of the values TAMJD imparts on their athletes?

We work to create a supportive environment, then use that to allow our athletes to try new cycling activities with more confidence. This not only expands their horizons, it gives them the experience of helping others. Also of importance is instilling the love of the bike. And, we try to show our kids the importance of helping the sport and community through volunteering requirements. They also learn teamwork and professionalism, which should help those racing in college.

Who would make an ideal candidate for the team?

We are looking for kids and parents that want greater enjoyment and support for their cycling pursuits. A good candidate would be motivated to race all season, not just the fall MiSCA slate. They may well be hoping to race in college. They’d appreciate what a team could offer them/their child. They’d see new cycling challenges, like bigger state and national racing, as something they’d like to try. Hopefully, they also want to give back to the community and each other. Ultimately, they’d see our team as a way to get closer to their potential with like-minded peers.

What does the program offer its riders/parents?

At the start, we give every Junior member a jersey, bib, helmet, socks, and a few other team items of casual clothing to help represent the team. They also get the opportunity to purchase other team items at our pricing. We also offer discounts on other products. Our program offers racing logistics and support to larger regional and national races. All our Juniors get some direction and coaching, but we also offer personal coaching at a much reduced cost. TAMJD also organizes team activities and rides so the kids can have fun together and co-mentor each other, which is beneficial for developing as a young adult.

What are the program’s greatest successes?

Kellen Caldwell has had a very good college career at one of the bigger cycling schools and he’s only a sophomore. We had one of our girls who’s 15 get 17th at Nationals, and that’s at elevation. We won the 17-18 boys junior road state championship and took 2nd in the girls. Our JD program has won the Barry Roubaix team competition and the boys and girls overall the last two years. Right now two of our seniors lead the top category (Varsity) in the MiSCA points series. The second race our girls took the top three spots on the Varsity podium (a senior, sophomore and freshman) and the boys took the top two. But I would say the fun we’ve had this year trying new things and sharing in each other’s struggles and achievements is the biggest program success. We have really had some kids blossom as riders and young people and that’s great to see by all of us.

What are some goals for the program in the near future?

We’d like to continue our selective growth and support our riders more with race reimbursement and equipment discounts. We are discussing creating a track for a select number of racers, that show more interest and promise, to gain UCI points by racing a few bigger events and be better positioned for the MTB National Championships. The program would also like to be sure we had paid and dedicated support at the races for all our riders. We also want to help MiSCA with its mission.


Fort Lewis Camp and the MTB National Championships

October 10th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By James Meyer

I learned a lot during my 2 weeks in Colorado, at the Fort Lewis College Nationals prep camp, and racing the National Mountain Bike championships in Winter Park. At camp I got more experience falling and riding trails with lots of fast elevation gain and loss, which helped me improve my high speed descending and confidence at speed, as well as get used to the intense nature of the Colorado trails. I also got to meet and talk to riders from across the country to learn about their riding style and experience.

We also got to meet multiple people with cycling centered careers including the following:

  • Mechanic, who talked about what he does for the racers
  • Nutritionist, who talked about how best to fuel for a ride based on the type and length
  • Engineer, who talked about his job designing bikes and the best ways to get a job in the cycling industry
  • Pro cyclist, who discussed her races and her sponsors.

Spending a whole week with my teammates from Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development strengthened our relationship and getting to be dorm-mates with them was a great experience that I will gladly do next year if I get the chance.

At Nationals, I learned that I need to push myself harder to get to the front of the pack at the start of the race before the single track so I won’t get slowed down needing to pass later in the race. I also noticed how much my lap times improved each time I pre-rode the loop and sessioned features. The elevation was a problem at 9000+ feet as the air is much thinner than around 900 feet and I could really feel it while adjusting in the first few rides.

By the races, I had gotten over the altitude sickness but still wasn’t fully acclimated so it was hard for me to push myself to my limits.  At the end of the first of three 5 mile laps, my one water bottle fell off my bike on a chunky descent and I didn’t have anyone to give a bottle hand off. I eventually picked someone else’s up off the trail at the top of the climb on the last lap as I had no water for a lap and a half. I could feel my performance greatly decreasing and that was one of my first experiences that really highlighted the effects of dehydration and the importance of being prepared for anything.

Watching the rest of my team race and cheering them on was one of my favorite parts of each day. I’m lucky to be on a team with such great friends so I can be happy for them when they do well in a race and support them in any way I can if they don’t place well or as well as they wanted. Even after all of our races are done, it’s fun watching the other races with them, especially the pros. It’s crazy seeing the fastest racers in the country race the same course that you just raced because of how impossibly fast and they ride the technical features that are hard for a lot of people just to complete.

The whole experience inspired me and my teammates at Athletic Mentors Junior Development to go back next year and try
Nationals again.


How Mountain Biking Has Enhanced My Life

February 15th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Elizabeth DeFauw

Hello! My name is Elizabeth DeFauw and I am 17 years old. I am a junior (11th grade) in high school taking online courses from Home School Legal Defense Academy (HSLDA) and Memoria Press Academy. Homework fills, 8-10 hours,  of my day with studying, quizzes, tests, and several various homework assignments. It is not fun to study but…  my free time is always amazing! I spend my precious free-time cycling, skiing, seeing my amazing friends, reading Scripture and praying, or hanging out, playing games with family. I absolutely love to be active in almost any sort or fashion. Before I got hooked on biking, I had tried multiple different activities and sports, such as Krav Maga Israeli war/self-defense, dance, swim team, and such. None of them can be compared with biking (and skiing).

I am currently a Varsity rider in MISCA. I started racing in 2020 for Huron Valley United Racing and achieved 2nd overall in Junior Varsity and advanced to Varsity in Orange Krush Cycling Club for 2021 season. I earned podium twice in Varsity, 4th in Heritage Park Race and 5th in the Milford Time Trial. I won the fall 34 miles Lowell Classic, which was my first gravel race. It was a super muddy but absolutely amazing race!

Lowell Gravel Race

I was prompted twice to join Team Athletic Mentors and did. I am excited to be a part of the group, especially after meeting everyone officially and personally. I hope to continue to develop as a rider, achieve goals, and inspire others to pursue their passion. Team Athletic Mentors has already encouraged me to train harder! I will do my best to contribute and encourage the team I am now a part of and represent.

4th Place Finish

How I Got Into Mountain Biking:

Note: During this time, in 2020, the covid-19 lockdown took place. This stopped several activities I enjoyed because of their restrictions.  This made life extremely isolating, difficult, “inactive,” and kind of depressing since everything I used to do and the people I used to be with was stripped away. However, as I have learned, the conclusion of my former life was for a new and good purpose. 

I was introduced to mountain biking in July of 2020 during one of the two usual family week-trips to the Upper Peninsula. We met up with a few longtime friends and they invited me to go riding with them on the Point Trail in Copper Harbor. At first, I was a bit nervous because I had only ridden a few trails in the Lower Peninsula, and I knew they had been riding for years. All anxiety altered into exhilaration and a feeling of freedom at the start of the flowy downhill. The trail was decently technical for a “first ride,” but I managed almost every section. I threw any potential fear behind me (I do not remember being afraid once) and dove right into anything thrown at me. We reached the end of the Point Trail (half-way point for the trip), ate, and looked for agates (I am a rock-hunter).  We continued our journey back to town. It was mostly uphill going back. Endurance and solid effort were required, but I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of endurance and proceeded onward.  After the ride, I felt on fire (both figuratively, and, for my muscles, literally)! I completed 20 miles that day. We also went riding the next day and, afterward, was encouraged to join MISCA, which I did with much enthusiasm. I was driven from then on, feeling like I had something to strive for; something I could put my passion and competitive nature into.

Biking is more than a sport to me. It significantly changed my lifestyle and mindset for the better. Through cycling, I have met amazing people (some of which I would consider to be good friends) and have had some of the best experiences of my life! It has inspired me to  push myself to go beyond my limits to achieve goals. This is not just confined to athletic goals, but also career and personal goals. I was determined then, but I feel all the more determined now.  I’m looking forward to an incredible 2022 year!

 


Catching up with Eli

November 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Elijah Garris

Hello, my name is Elijah Garris, but most everyone calls me Eli.  I’m in the 8th grade and currently attend Muir Middle School in Milford MI. In the 2020 cycling season I started to practice and race for my scholastic team Huron Valley United Racing. It was such a great time racing with my friends that I go to school with. I won the overall Middle School State Championship with 5 firsts and 1 second place. That following winter I snowboarded a lot with family and friends. My Dad set up a trainer in the basement so I could spin once in a while.

I was anxiously waiting for spring so I could get back on my bike. Early summer this year I started racing the Michigan Championship Point Series. The first race at Hanson Hills was incredibly hot, the next two were raining and miserable. I ended up racing 5 of the 7 races and won the 14 and under category overall. During this time Kellen Caldwell and his dad Dan suggested I apply for Athletic Mentors. Looking up to Kellen I was super excited to apply. Coach Terry Ritter surprised me at the Pontiac race that I would be part of the team. I ended the summer with the Ore to Shore race in Marquette MI. One of my favorite races for sure.

Once school started our MISCA race season was happening. Our team would practice 3 times a week and I would go out another time or two on my own. I started to jump in on a Tuesday night road ride with a cycling group near my house. I came out of the 5th race as Michigan Advanced Middle School Champion. But, there was one more race left at Cannonsburg. I was in a situation where if I didn’t race I would have held the title. If I raced and took 2nd to the 2nd place holder I would lose it. There was never a thought about not racing the final race. Unfortunately, I came in second that day. I was ok with the outcome because I gave everything I had that day and he wanted it just as bad as I did. I’ll be riding in the JV class next year as a Freshman.

As a team with Athletic Mentors we got a chance to race in the Barry Roubaix gravel race. We won the youth team competition with a prize of $1000. It was fast and fun. I enjoyed being part of such an amazing group of people. The team tent was busy and there was just a lot of positive energy. Can’t wait for Barry next year. I just recently raced Peak 2 Peak which was a lot of fun also. I have the Lowell gravel race coming up and have been training on the gravel. Lately I’ve been meeting up with fellow teammate Collin Snyder for a weekly group gravel ride. This is for getting ready for my first Iceman.

After Iceman I plan to spin on the trainer, ride outside if possible and snowboard with friends. I’m signed up for a bike mechanic class this fall, which I’m super excited about. I’m thankful and proud to be a part of Athletic Mentors. I’m looking forward to our team rides and coaching that is provided by our coaches. Most of all, can’t wait to roll up to the line in 2022!


Lessons From the 2021 MiSCA Season

October 27th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Joel Bretzlaff

I’m a member of Athletic Mentors Junior Cycling Team.  I participated in the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association (MiSCA) is a youth-only race series that takes place in the fall, offering a variety of categories for racers in 1st-12th grade.  They focus heavily on getting more kids on bikes, but also offer extremely competitive high school racing.  This season I raced in the 9-10th grade category.  I have been racing in MiSCA since 2016, and I always look forward to this chapter of my race season.  For the MiSCA races, I race under Orange Krush Junior Race Team.

Race #1: Heritage Park – This year, the season opener took place at Heritage Park in Adrian, Michigan, on August 29th.  The course was quite tight, and cornering was the most important skill to have.  The first sprint start of the year is always the most hectic, and I rode into the fourth position as we entered the woods.  I noticed that the leader was starting to open up a gap on the next two riders in front of me, so when we broke out onto a two-track climb, I seized my opportunity and passed the second and third riders.  From here, I was able to get onto the wheel of the leader.  We held a ~10 second gap for the first two miles of the race.  Eventually, as we approached the longest climb of the course, I moved to the front and broke away from the pack.  Over the remainder of the first lap, I extended my lead, which was over thirty seconds as we crossed through the start/finish area.  Nothing changed over the second lap, where I pulled out another thirty seconds and took the win.  This race taught me how to ride during a breakaway.

Race #2: Addison Oaks – On September 12th, MiSCA traveled to Addison Oaks, a wide open, fast course with many straightaways.  I went into this race as the series leader, and I led into the woods after the final sprint.  On the first climb, I allowed someone to pass as I did not want to set the pace.  I drafted the rider in front for much of the first lap, but as we reached a pavement section, two riders behind me powered around the leader and I and pushed the pace until we re-entered the woods.  This placed me in fourth position, and I was doing everything I could to get around the two riders in front of me and get onto the leader, who was beginning to pull away.  I got around one rider, but couldn’t get around the other until the grassy start/finish area.  At this point, I was very worn out, and started to lose position as the race went on.  I ended up with a fifth place finish and learned the importance of positioning, due to the amount of energy I used just to move up a couple positions in the trail.

Race #3: Merrell Trail – One week later, we traveled to Grand Rapids to race at Merrell Trail, a race with long climbs and technical descents.  Off the start line, I noticed that my drivetrain was skipping gears, so I dialed back my pace on the long, grassy opening section.  I entered the woods in fourth position, and the leader was already pulling out a major gap on the first long climb.  We quickly caught up to the rider in front.  On a tricky corner, I slid out and nearly ran into a tree, but I got back to the leaders.  The four of us started to open up a gap, then the first rider crashed and the other two and I got around him.  Eventually, the leader started to pull away, and after some attempts, I moved into the second position and began to chase.  When we came to Sawtooth, a ridiculously technical downhill section, I completely closed the gap.  I rode the wheel of first place until we came to a long climb near the end of the lap, where I was dropped.  As I came through the start/finish area, I was informed that I was behind by ten seconds.  I worked to pull this back over the second lap, and completed this comeback on Sawtooth.  The race came down to a sprint finish, but I wasn’t able to overtake my competitor, and was second by 0.4 seconds.  I now know just how much of an advantage leading into a sprint can offer.

Race #4 Bloomer Park – With the Bloomer Park race quickly approaching, the rainfall was coming down hard.  On September 26th, it was clear that the race conditions were going to be a disaster.  The start/finish area was a complete mud pit.  Even though I struggled in the mud on the wholeshot, I led into the woods.  One rider held onto my wheel, and third place was about 10 seconds back.  When we came to Art’s Lungbuster, a four minute climbing segment early in the lap, I slid out in the mud after clipping a tree with my handlebar.  I couldn’t clip in for a few seconds due to mud on my cleats, and by that time, the third place rider had already caught up to me.  The two of us worked hard to close the gap to first, but it was clear that it was an impossible task.  As we came through for our third lap, the rider I was with overtook me.  I held his wheel for half a lap, but ended up slowing down and landing a third place finish.  After this race, I further understood the importance of riding a clean race.

Race #5: Milford Trail Time Trial – The October 10th stop of the MiSCA season was a time trial this year due to trail and field limitations.  Racers were sent in series standings order at fifteen second intervals.  I pushed hard off the start line, trying to catch up to the rider in front of me.  As the first lap went on, it was all I could do to keep them within my sights.  I pushed on the second half of the lap, and came through the start/finish area with a six second lead.  However, by this point, I was completely gassed and my pace slowed.  I knew that my race was now about holding off the third place rider.  As I broke out onto the final sprint, my teammates informed me that the race for second was close, and urged me to push it.  I sprinted with all I had, and ended up 0.3 seconds ahead of third place.  This race taught me that some days are not meant to be and that risking more positions to try and ride for a win is not always the best idea.

Race #6: Cannonsburg Ski Area State Championships – For the state championship race of the 2021 season, MiSCA selected Cannonsburg Ski Area.  This course is jam-packed with brutal climbing throughout the course.  My category was only completing one lap, so my strategy was much different going in.  Due to time restraints from camping the weekend of the race, I did not have an opportunity to warm up, but still fought my way into second position during the wholeshot.  After five to ten minutes, I was finally feeling warmed up, and the pack was thinning out behind the leader and I.  Two riders were still holding on, but one of them dropped off at one of the large climbs about twenty minutes into the race.  I was in the middle of a pack of three as we continued to ascend our way around the ski hill.  Nearing the final sprint, I almost went off the trail on the last corner, and lost about 1 second before we broke out of the woods.  The end of the race included a 200 foot grassy climb straight up the hill, and wet, tight switchbacks all the way down.  When the climb opened up, I made my move and overtook the race leader.  I pulled with everything I had, but one racer was still on my wheel at the top of the climb.  At one point during the descent as I was trying to recover for the very end of the race, I was almost overtaken, but I held onto my lead and took the final sprint.  This race taught me the value of allowing another rider to control the race and sticking to a plan.

I finished the season with a second place in the series, and I can’t wait to race Varsity next year!


Training in Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

October 13th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Sean Siems

Hello, my name is Sean Siems. I am 13 years old. I go to St. Augustine and I’m in the 8th grade. I started doing triathlons because my dad introduced them to me when I was around 9 or 10.

In the past, training wasn’t something I gave much thought to. We always just raced. All of that changed this year!

This year I had the opportunity to join the Youth Triathlon Team at Athletic Mentors. Our goal was to train for and race the Grand Rapids Triathlon super sprint distance and Athletic Mentors private race at Gull Lake. The coaches at Athletic Mentors set up a Youth Triathlon Program for us to follow and also held group training sessions at various locations depending on which discipline we were focusing on that day. We had coaches swim, bike and run with us in order to keep us safe in the water and on the road. They also encouraged us to do our best and helped push us along.

As it turns out, training for triathlons is just as fun as racing them. I have done five triathlons. The first three were the Shermanator. The fourth one was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. The last one was the AM triathlon at Gull Lake where we raced with adults. So far I am enjoying triathlons and I hope to keep doing more in the future and eventually do an Ironman.


Training for Life from a Young Triathlete

October 11th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By Kellen Siems

Hello, my name is Kellen and I am in the 7th grade. I have done 5 triathlons and I’m on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. I play soccer, tennis, and I swim and ski.

I do triathlons because my parents want me to be active. They also help me to be more athletic, which makes me better in the other sports that I play. Not to mention, it’s also a lot of fun!

My favorite triathlon was the Grand Rapids Triathlon. There were many members of Team Athletic Mentors there both racing and cheering us on. It was a pretty big race so I was nervous. My brother and twin sister are on the team too, so that helped. If you have ever raced anything before then you know that as soon as it starts, all the nervous feelings go away. All that’s left is to focus and enjoy the race.

My goal one day is to do an Ironman and be fast. I also want to be able to do triathlons more easily. That will come with more practice. Most important though, the training involved in racing triathlons will help me lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.


Joining a Triathlon Team at 12 years old

October 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Brie Siems

Hello, my name is Brie Siems. I am 12 years old. This year I completed my first season on the Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Team. After a long delay due to the pandemic, it was nice to finally be part of the team. Although I have raced many triathlons already, this year was my first experience with a structured program geared toward racing.  As a group we trained together as well as followed a plan individually throughout the weeks leading up to our race. Our training included the usual swimming, biking and running but also some exercises to strengthen our core.  This year the Youth team raced the Grand Rapids Triathlon. We focused on the super sprint distance because we are all pretty young still. The distances were 200 yard swim, 6 mile bike and 1.5 mile run.

My 2 brothers are also on the team. The nice thing about racing with a team is that although triathlon is an individual sport, being part of a team helps us all to be our best. It is also nice to see teammates before and after the race and to cheer each other on.

I love to do sports and activities too. Some of the sports I did this year are soccer, tennis, swimming, skiing/snowboarding and cross country. I have been playing piano for 6 years and love it!

I started doing triathlons because my parents wanted me to become an athlete. My dad also does triathlons so I guess it was only natural. My dad actually said that when my brothers and I are 18, he would be watching us do an Ironman triathlon. I joined the triathlon group here at Athletic Mentors to help myself become a better athlete. Currently, I go to school at St. Augustine Cathedral School. I am doing this strength and conditioning program to help myself become strong and better at running. I am looking forward to becoming a better athlete


Racing and Riding as Part of a Team

September 29th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jonathan Meyer

My name is Jonathan Meyer, and I am going into my junior year of high school and have just joined Team Athletic Mentors. Prior to this, the only team I raced with was my Lake Orion High School team, which is only really in effect during the fall season when the Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association mountain bike race series takes place. Outside of this time, there is not much support or action from the high school team, so for the most part I was alone, outside of my parents. That being said, I still enjoy being a part of my MISCA team very much.

Shortly after starting my sophomore year, a member of Team Athletic Mentors that I raced with during the school season recommended that I apply to the team. I thought, “Sure why not? It would be nice to be part of a team for the rest of the year other than the fall.” After that I filled out and submitted an application, and then had an interview for the team with Mr. Terry Ritter. After that I attended the team zoom meeting and then my first race as part of the team!

The first race I did was the Dirty Thirty gravel race, and despite being a brand-new member of the team, everybody was really friendly and talked to me before, during, and after the race. It was really cool!

Then, after that, I participated in my first team event other than a race, which was a youth development team ride beginning at Kensington Metropark and riding to Island Lake Recreation Area. During this ride I got to ride with and get to know many of the other juniors on the team better, and it was really fun! Usually in the spring and summer I have to do all of my rides alone. But now I’m on a team with riders that are similar speeds and even faster than I am! It’s much more fun and exciting than riding alone.

I have participated in ten races this year as part of Team Athletic Mentors, but one of these stands out above the others: The Cowpie Classic gravel race. I had been looking forward to this race for most of the preceding month, and when the day came, I felt well prepared and ready to race! During the race director’s talk before the start, they informed us that there were heavy storms in the area the night before, and racers should watch out for fallen branches and debris on the road. With that in mind, the race started and I managed to stay with the lead group all the way going into a section through a farm and the woods where I dropped my chain after hitting a big hole at the bottom of a downhill. Despite that, I caught back up to the front of the race besides a small breakaway that went up the road.

Throughout the race, all the way up to about mile 30, we kept seeing small pieces of tree or branches on the side of the road. At mile 30, I was in a group of about 20 other racers including Mr. Ritter, Ross DiFalco and Jared Dunham. The group crested a hill and started going down a large descent at about 25 mph. This road was covered in branches and leaves, and right in front of me, as I would learn in about 3 and a half seconds, there was a very big log in the middle of the road. It was about five inches in diameter. Before I knew what was happening, I had hit the log and had hit the ground and slid about ten feet from where I originally impacted. Mr. Ritter said that after I hit the log there was a loud cracking noise, which I later learned was my rim breaking. After I crashed, Mr. Ritter, Jared, and Ross had all stopped to see if I was okay. Mr. Ritter waited with me until my dad got there to call for help, and Ross waited with me all the way until we walked to an intersection where I could be picked up by a family friend. The support I received in the race before the crash, after the crash, after the race, and resolving the complications that occurred as a result of the crash was incredible. I am very grateful for the help of all my teammates and Team Athletic Mentors as a whole to get me and my bike patched up again after my crash.

Team Athletic Mentors has also provided me with the resources and coaching to improve my riding and help achieve my goals in the sport. Recently, I have started learning and training with Mr. Ritter as my coach and I am very excited to see where that takes me.

In summary, from my time as a member of Team Athletic Mentors I have learned that with your riding and your racing, teammates first and foremost can provide vital support and encouragement, and also add an extra element of fun and enjoyment to your time on a bike, or anywhere else for that matter.



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