Photo Credit: Eszter Horanyi CU MTB member Sam Morrison leads a group at nationals
By: Eszter Horanyi
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the University of Colorado mountain bike team dominated the collegiate scene winning several National Championships in a row. At the 2003 Mountain Bike National Championships, they suffered a heart-breaking loss in Angel Fire, NM., to Fort Lewis College and have only been able to bring home one mountain bike national title since then. The team has suffered from a series of years with single-year coaches, coaches who were unable to dedicate themselves fully to the team, or no coaches at all. As any student run organization, leadership changed frequently and continuity was lacking. This year, things changed when FasCat Coaching, based out of Boulder, came on board to help bring the CU team back to its powerhouse status.
FasCat joined forces with the CU team a few weeks into the fall mountain bike season with Jason Hilimire taking on mountain bike coaching responsibilities. He found a team that he describes as ‘a good group of kids who just needed a point-person. They didn’t have much organization or structure.’ Hilimire explains that while the A-riders were fairly self-sufficient, it was the beginners who benefited most from having a coach present to answer simple questions, such as ‘Where do we register?’ Meanwhile, more experienced riders could benefit from information on race strategy and training. Historically, the collegiate programs that succeed are those that have a strong coach turning ordinary athletes into strong leaders who then pass their knowledge down to the next generation of cyclists who will take over leadership positions. When this chain is broken, strong teams begin to falter.
After a successful nationals where the team finished a close second to Fort Lewis College, Hilimire is looking to the future, citing recruitment, team dedication, and structure as requirements to grow the team and defeat Fort Lewis.
Recruiting the next generation