Summit Velo back from brink of death with new, improved clinics and coaching for young mountain bikers
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Interested in the Summit Endurance Academy take on Summit Velo? Join the youth program or adult club for the summer season by visiting SummitEnduranceAcademy.com or emailing Joe Howdyshell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Junior Mountain Bike
Mountain bike training program, held three times per week for ages 14-22 years old
Runs May 15 to Sept. 1
$600 before June 1
$700 after June 1
Adult mountain bike and running club, complete with monthly clinics
$25 per clinic
$100 season pass
There’s a brand-new bike club in the county, but you might already know its name.
This season, Summit Velo — a nonprofit club launched in 2011 for local youth and adult riders — is changing hands to become part of Summit Endurance Academy, a coaching and training business started by local high-alpine runner Joe Howdyshell. And you’d better believe Howdyshell, aka Pale Thunder, when he competes in the Imperial Challenge and other events around town, has all sorts of ideas for a popular club on the brink of death, beginning with a new name: Summit Endurance Academy Junior Mountain Bike Program.
“This was really just a private coaching business in the beginning, working with individual, private athletes who want to reach goals with endurance sports,” Howdyshell said, giving a brief synopsis of the academy’s mission. “I thought long and hard about it and decided it’s a challenge I wanted to take on.”
This winter, Howdyshell heard a rumor that Summit Velo was disbanding after six years. The club was founded by volunteers and survived off volunteer support, but several board members had moved away, and the remaining three were just about drowning in the logistics of running a nonprofit.
“We collectively had a couple move away, and the ones that were left — well, life just changes,” said Katie Stamp, one of three remaining board members along with her husband, Kyle, and the Summit High mountain bike coach, Fred Newcomer. “We just didn’t have the ability anymore to do it the best way possible, and if we couldn’t do it well we thought it would be best to say goodbye.”
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Enter Howdyshell, who currently works with 57 athletes from 17 states — about half in Summit County, the other half across the nation — but hadn’t done much with group clinics or clubs. He heard the rumor, thought long and hard, and by late-April had made up his mind: Summit Velo didn’t have to die. The founding members were ecstatic.
“There is no changing of hands, per se,” Stamp said. “We closed our doors and let others know that if there are other opportunities for training, we wanted to share that with our team members. Joe and (assistant coach) Uri had put together this program and we thought it was awesome. It was a great transition.”
For the kids
Summit Velo was founded with two programs — one for youth, one for adults, both with “Summit Velo” branded jerseys — but Stamp says it was always about the kids. Last summer, the club shifted focus and only had a youth team, which was fine-tuned to prep middle school riders for the high school team. Members trained two or three times per week with coaches, and then raced in most of the Summit Mountain Challenge town series races.
“We made that change because youth is where the biggest need was,” Stamp said. “That’s where we felt our resources could be used in the right way and we all wanted to dial it in, make it manageable, focus on what mattered.”
Howdyshell shares the founder’s youth-first philosophy, but he couldn’t say no to the adults. This summer, he and assistant coach Uriell “Uri” Carlson — a native of Vermont who races enduro and has an IMBA Level II instructor cert — will lead two groups: the junior mountain bike program and “The Bruisers,” a laid-back adult club with clinics and programs.
“I’ve been a nanny since I moved here, and so I really enjoy working with kids, but it’s not something I’ve done by combining it with my love for biking,” said Carlson, whose past coaching experience includes the women’s-only VIDA MTB clinic series. “I’m really looking forward to combining those two passions. It’ll be a new part of the community to get to know.”
The junior club shares the Summit Velo mission: train developing riders for the high school team. It meets three days per week, beginning June 1, with two days of fitness training and one day of technique training. Clinics begin at Frisco Peninsula and then spread out as trails dry, with Carlson leading everything from group rides and hill intervals to jumping basics at the Frisco Bike Park.
“This is the training season for a lot of these kids who are heading into high school, so we want to keep it fun, make it a blast, really just help them learn as much as they can while getting fit,” Howdyshell said.
Howdyshell’s adult program, The Bruisers, is the same kind of club Summit Velo was when it launched, plus a little bit more. For $25 per session or $100 for the season, the club gets together for monthly clinics — think things like nutrition, technique and workout suggestions — and weekly or so for group rides. As a runner, Howdyshell brings a mix of running and biking to The Bruisers, and it’s all in the name of becoming better, more well-rounded athletes.
“I see a lot of value in sports,” Howdyshell said. “It’s been my life, and I really look forward to putting mine and Uri’s spin on things.”
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