The Goals of a Junior Cyclist

March 14th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By  Joel Bretzlaff:

Hello, my name is Joel Bretzlaff, and I am 15 years old.  I’m from Highland, Michigan, and I am a Sophomore attending school at Charyl Stockwell High School.  I have been cycling for 10 years.  Right around the time I was born, my dad started mountain biking with some of his coworkers, and as soon as I was able, he got me out onto the trails.  

A few years later, I rode in my first race through MiSCA, and I have been racing MiSCA ever since.  This season, I will be racing in the Varsity category for the Orange Krush Junior Race Team, and I’m aiming to attain a podium finish at least once, and achieve a top-10 finish at all 6 MiSCA races.  MiSCA is a huge part of my life, and I love that I am able to be a role model for younger racers in the MiSCA organization.

I am entering my second season as a member of Team Athletic Mentors.  Last year, I joined the team for a multitude of reasons.  TAM has allowed me to ride and race with other young cyclists that share my passion for the competitive aspect of cycling.  It has also enabled me to build connections in the cycling community and gain access to resources that help to boost my cycling career.

This season, I have the opportunity to race USA Cycling mountain bike nationals in Winter Park, CO.  I am looking to represent Michigan and my goal is to place within the top 10 for 15 year olds.  The biggest challenge will be the altitude, as the race course is over 9,000 feet above sea level.  I have never ridden at a major altitude before, so it will be difficult not knowing how my body will handle those conditions.

While I am a mountain biker first, last season, I rode and raced on the gravel for the first time.  I find it is a great way to train, and I enjoy gravel adventure rides.  My first gravel race was the Dirty 30 50 miler, where I learned the value of sticking with a group, which I didn’t do very well at that race.  Later into the season, at the Waterloo Grit and Gravel and the Cowpie Classic, I rode much more complete, tactical races, and I experienced better results than at the Dirty 30.  I look forward to racing a handful of gravel races this season, including Barry-Roubaix, where I will be racing in the 18 mile team competition along with my Junior Development teammates.

Another major aspect of my cycling life is my part time job at Cycletherapy Bicycles in Waterford.  This position has allowed me to be involved within the bicycle industry, and explore other possible career paths relating to cycling.  I have also been learning many things about bicycle repair, which is a crucial facet of any cyclist’s performance.  One of the best parts of my job is meeting cyclists of all types from the area and seeing my friends that come in the shop.

In addition to cycling, I am also working towards attaining my Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts.  I have enjoyed partaking in Scouts over the years, and I recently completed my Eagle Scout project, where I put in a fire pit, woodshed, and benches at my church. 

I have been putting in the hours on the trainer this winter, and I cannot wait to suit up in my race kit once again at the end of March.  Outdoor riding is more appealing with every trainer ride I complete, and I am wrapping up the winter service/ upgrading of my mountain bike.  Cycling is my passion, and I look forward to making great strides in my cycling career during the 2022 season!


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!

 



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