Welcoming JD Rider Ozzy Tobiczyk

June 7th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ozzy Tobiczyk

Hello, my name is Ozzy Tobiczyk and this is my first year on the TAMJD team. I am 14 years old and a 9th grader at Milford High School. I have been riding my bike ever since I could walk. Living in Milford, Mi has given me access to so many mountain bike trails, it was only natural to get into mountain biking. I joined the Huron Valley United Racing (HVUR) team in 5th grade and raced my first MiSCA race in 2020. I was hooked from that point on. What I love about cycling is the scenery on the rides, jumps, and having a fun group of people to ride with. This year I will be racing varsity on HVUR. 

I joined TAMJD because I wanted to push myself, become a better rider, explore all types of cycling, and have fun while doing it. I have learned a lot about how to properly fuel myself before a race as well as how to mentally prepare for a race this past year. I know I have a lot more to learn and that is another reason why I joined TAMJD.

My goal for this season is to be in the top 10 in Varsity and to get first place in my age group in Iceman and Peak to Peak. I am really looking forward to racing more gravel races. I am also starting to learn road racing techniques and have been racing in the Waterford Hills Summer Road Racing Series on Wednesdays. I had the pleasure of going to TAMJD training camp in Brevard, NC during spring break this year. It was so much fun. We had been training all winter to climb Mt. Mitchell which was about 44 miles up a mountain and 44 miles down. I think my top speed going down was around 49 miles an hour! It was awesome and I loved the views! I also really liked spending time with my teammates and going into town. We rode the mountain bike trails and roads in Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest. It was a great experience and I can’t wait until next year! 

I have been to many places in the United States to ride bikes but my favorite place to ride is in Marquette, Mi. My family and I go up there every summer for the Ore to Shore race and to camp for the week at Rippling River. I love the South Trails and the jumps on the Eh Line. My favorite race is Iceman. It’s such a fun venue. I like not knowing what the weather will be like. It’s always a surprise and different.

I like doing non-bike things too. I really love snowboarding and wish it was something I could do year round. I built a mini park in my backyard this last winter which really had the neighbors talking. I joined the boardercross team at Milford High School this year and rode varsity on the team. We won the state championship, which was really cool! I also have started to really like fishing and plan to do a lot of that this summer. I like hanging out with my friends too.

I’m really glad I joined the TAMJD. In the short time that I have been the team I have been introduced to so many things that I wouldn’t have done on my own, like road racing. Next up, I will be traveling with the team to the Tour of America’s Dairyland where we will have 5 days of Crit races in Milwaukee, WI. Wish us luck!


Meet New TAMJD Rider Nick Thielen

March 17th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Nick Thielen

Hi, my name is Nick Thielen. I’m 14 years old and in the 8th grade at Warner Middle School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Outside of cycling I play basketball and run track. I started practicing with Huron Valley United Racing in 2021 and realized I was a pretty good cyclist so I decided to stick with it. This past season I won the MISCA Advanced Middle School state championship winning 4 out of 6 races. After the MISCA season, I raced Iceman for the third time. Iceman is definitely my favorite race. The atmosphere is great and the course is always challenging but super fun.

 

 

This upcoming season will be my first year on Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development. I joined the team because I thought it was a great opportunity to improve as a cyclist and also connect with people that had similar goals to me. I’m excited to get more into road racing this year which is something I haven’t done much of in the past. I think expanding into disciplines beyond mountain biking will be great for progressing in my cycling career.

I’ll be participating in the Tour of America’s Dairyland crit series out in Wisconsin as well as other road races which I think will be great opportunities to improve as a rider. I’m going to be doing some racing outside the state of Michigan which is very exciting. I know it’s gonna be a lot harder this year racing against high schoolers instead of middle schoolers, but it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping to do a lot of races this season that I haven’t done in the past and overall get a lot stronger.

I find riding a bike a great way to have fun while meeting some great people you wouldn’t have met if you weren’t riding. There is nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment after a good race knowing that all your hard work paid off. If a race doesn’t go your way you can always just look forward to the next one. I really like training for races. There’s something about knowing that someday it’s all gonna pay off just motivates me to train as hard as I can.

I also love riding on dirt roads or in the woods where there is nobody around and you’re all by yourself. It’s really peaceful and helps me clear my mind. One of my favorite trails around where I live is Lakeshore Park. It’s super tight and twisty with some fun features. I ride it all the time which gave me a big advantage at the MISCA race which was very important for me to win so that I could win the series. You can gain a lot of time on it knowing the trail really well.

I love the sport of cycling and its community. I’ve made so many new friends and learned so much from it. I’m super excited for the opportunity I have with Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development this upcoming season to grow as a cyclist.


Adjusting Expectations: Katja’s First Season with TAMJD

December 27th, 2023 by JoAnn Cranson

By:Katja Opfer

My first season on TAMJD got off to a bit of a rough start when I broke my thumb at my high school ski team’s training camp in early January. While my ski racing season ended before it even began, this meant that I had a lot of time to train and build up base miles in Zwift. Breaking my thumb reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason, because having all that time to train set me up well going into the cycling season and it paid off. My fitness was better than ever before and I had a great time at the team’s spring training camp in North Carolina, where I got to do some amazing rides. I also had the opportunity to participate in V02 testing at Athletic Mentors headquarters with some of my teammates, which was a great learning experience.

Barry-Roubaix Race

Going into the first race of the season, Barry Roubaix (18-mile), I had fairly low expectations for myself since it was my first gravel race. To my surprise, I won first overall female and set a new female course record on the way to helping TAMJD win the team competition for the third year in a row!  My success in this race opened up the world of gravel racing to me and I went on to place second overall female in the Cowpie Classic Short Haul (36-mile) and also won overall female at De Ronde Van Grampian (25-mile). I had never done any gravel riding before this year, but it became an essential part of my training every week and provided something different to change it up.

A lot of my training and preparation this season was focused on the Mountain Bike National Championships in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. This was my chance to see how I stacked up against girls my age from all over the country. The course was super intimidating with more rocks than I had ever seen on a mountain bike trail in my life, and some pretty nerve-wracking features to tackle. With my limited experience on techy terrain, plus being one of only a few racers on a  hardtail, I felt like I was thrown into the deep end. I spent many hours practicing on the course and built up my confidence a ton by the day of the XC race. My result of 28th out of 74 proved to myself that I could compete against these incredibly fast girls and gave me some ideas of what my goals should be for next year.

My last race before MiSCA season was the Ore 2 Shore Soft Rock, which was one of the most fun and challenging races I did all year. The 28-mile course located in the U.P. was beautiful and had a fair amount of long climbs and fun descents on many types of terrain. This race was very competitive, and I really left everything I had out on the course with a sprint finish to win first place overall female. This win was a big achievement for me given that it was such a close race.

MiSCA season felt a lot different this year because I went from only racing the 6 MiSCA races last year to doing over 20 races this year. Winning all 6 races as a sophomore in my first Varsity season, after sweeping JV last year as a freshman, was pretty unreal. This year MiSCA was really about the atmosphere and the friendships. It’s not very common that you are friends with all your competitors. Even though we are on different scholastic teams, many of us are on TAMJD together and we invited the other Varsity girls to hang out with us after the races too. This dynamic made the races a lot more enjoyable because I was cheering on my friends and teammates.

 

Iceman Race

My last race of the season was the Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City. Being the indecisive person that I am, I waited until practically the last minute to switch to the Pro category. After careful consideration of my season so far, and placing 2nd overall in Pro women at Peak 2 Peak two weeks before, I decided to switch to Pro at Iceman. Even though it was my first time racing Iceman, I felt confident that I could race in the Pro category after pre-riding the course. I had a great start but unfortunately I was involved in a crash around mile 4, which most likely took me out of the running for top ten. I gave everything I had to bridge up to the lead group, but couldn’t stay with them and got dropped halfway through the race. I was still able to finish 12th in a stacked field of 26 Pro women. I saw this race as a chance to prove myself and was really frustrated that it didn’t work out the way I wanted, but what can you do? I’ll be back next year, that’s for sure.

In summary, I view my first year beyond the horizons of MiSCA to have been very successful. Having a structured training plan provided by my Athletic Mentors coach Terry Ritter definitely helped me train productively to accomplish my goals. Next year I am setting my sights on more national-level races, possibly including gravel and marathon Nationals, and hopefully I can break into the top 20 at MTB Nationals. I also plan on doing some longer gravel and MTB endurance races after doing so well in the shorter versions, including Barry Roubaix, Cowpie, and Ore 2 Shore. I am excited for my second year with TAMJD and am looking forward to all the racing in 2024!


Meet Miriam Bretzlaff

February 9th, 2023 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Miriam Bretzlaff

Hello, my name is Miriam Bretzlaff. I’m a 13 year old racer from Highland, Michigan attending Charyl Stockwell Academy Middle School in the 8th grade. I’ve been riding my bike ever since I ditched the training wheels but my first race was the MiSCA series 7 years ago and I’ve been at it since. I have hopped between a couple different teams throughout my riding career but my current MiSCA team is Orange Krush and this will be my third year racing with them. I’ve worked my way up categories over the years and in the 2022 season I won advanced middle school as overall champion. This year I am hoping to race varsity but JV is also an option I am considering. I have also done several other in-state races in the past such as Barry Roubaix, Ore To Shore, Iceman, and Peak2Peak.

This will be my first year racing for the Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD) and I am very eager for the upcoming season. I joined the team because I want to achieve my long term goals and improve as an athlete. I also believe TAMJD has a great support system and I have found many friendships on the team. One of the things I am most excited for is the opportunity to race out of state with a team racing with me, as well as the many gravel races I will get the chance to participate in. Another thing I am very excited for is the team’s annual trip to training camp in Brevard, North Carolina. The trails all over North Carolina have become a desired location for me and I just love riding out there with my friends and family.

Some of my other favorite places to ride are local trails such as Milford trail, Highland rec., and Settlers Park. I also love to visit places all over northeast Arkansas such as trails in Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Bella Vista. One of the local group rides that I especially like attending is the MiSCA sponsored BRAVE ride. BRAVE is an organization of female riders that meet up a few times a month to get to know each other, push each other, and overall just have a good time out in the woods.

My favorite race/race weekend is probably Ore To Shore. The trip up north is always a great time and one of the things I most like about this venue is the constant change in scenery. For example, the trail can change from single track to two track to gravel to road and right back to single track in the span of a couple miles! It’s a race that requires all kinds of skills.

If I end up racing varsity this season as a freshman I will be competing against lots of girls older than me and who possibly obtained more riding experience. Knowing this, my goal for MiSCA is to finish every race and make it on the podium at least once. Some of my other goals non-related to MiSCA are keeping up with my training plan and balancing efforts and rest without overdoing one or the other.

A new thing I’ll be trying this year is out of state racing and I very much look forward to it. I would also like to dedicate more time to gravel rides and racing. I really look forward to challenging myself with the long hills associated with gravel and road even though climbing hasn’t always been my strong suit. I believe becoming associated with other forms of cycling other than just mountain biking will really help me as a racer and teach me skills that I will carry with me throughout my career. This winter I will be trying out for my school’s basketball team. I hope that this is also a beneficial form of cross training and a fun way to spend the offseason.

Sometimes I’m racing against friends and teammates while other times I’m racing against total strangers or old adversaries. One thing that I have learned to remember about racing anyone is to stay sportsmanlike before the race, competitive during them, and friendly after. Another thing that I have learned while racing is that no two riders are the same. My strengths and weaknesses will not always match up while closely racing someone and it can be very hard to beat a racer with a different skill range than I have depending on the course.

I love cycling because of the community I get to be involved in and the chances I have because of it. I am so grateful for everything that cycling has given me, especially the opportunity to be a part of TAMJD and its amazing support system!



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