Summit’s Kevin Kane sparked by SMC
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Summit County, Colorado
Kevin Kane’s only been a professional cyclist for a little more than a year. Yet, the 19-year-old from Summit Cove has a lot to fill up his resume.
A member of USA Cycling’s mountain bike development program, Kane raced across Europe last summer on the World Cup circuit. He narrowly missed out on a podium finish in the Blast the Mass at Snowmass (back-to-back flats ended up leaving him further back in the pack), and Kane was ninth in the 23-and-under division of the USA Cycling MTB National Championships in Sol Vista.
But, when asked about his favorite competitions on a pair of fat tires – and those he admits to getting most nervous about – Kane doesn’t mention racing against the world’s best in the World Cup or even trying to chase down Lance Armstrong in Snowmass.
Kane prefers something a little closer to home – the Summit Mountain Challenge.
“I spent four months (last summer) in Europe in some of the most prestigious races … but the whole time I was excited to get back home for the SMC,” Kane said.
Beyond the courses picked for the SMC, Kane said it’s all about the atmosphere.
“The races are so much fun,” he said. “It’s a just a friendly type of competition. You have a lot of friends out there, and kids are racing with their parents. It just doesn’t really compare to anything.”
And a new slate of SMC races gets started Wednesday with the Frisco Roundup.
The SMC is a six-stop race series that takes mountain bikers of all abilities on a competitive tour of some of the best trails in Colorado.
All the races take place in either Frisco or Breckenridge, and while the competition for titles – in both individual races and the season-long standings – can get fierce, series organizer Jeff Westcott said the SMC is truly for everyone.
“No matter who you are, no matter your age or ability level, there’s a category for you,” he said.
The SMC has 26 different divisions for each race, which encompass everything from beginner junior divisions to a Clydesdale division.
A small tweak in the SMC schedule for 2010 sets up a season-ending showdown in the series’ only time-trial race, in which riders literally race across the Tenmile Range from Breck to Frisco.
The change of pace certainly adds a wrinkle into the quest for an overall series division title.
“It’ll be cool,” Westcott said, “because people will have no clue how they stacked up against everyone else until the results are posted after. They just have to put the hammer down and hope for the best.”
One thing that hasn’t changed this year are the courses, and Kane said that’s definitely good.
“I mean, I’ve done races all over the place, and Jeff’s courses are as good as you get (for those distances),” Kane said. “He does a great job of diversifying the courses.”
Last summer, Kane would’ve likely won the overall title in the men’s pro/elite division after winning four of the five races he entered, but was edged out in the end because he had to miss two races while competing elsewhere.
The success showed just how far Kane’s come over the years.
His family moved to Summit County nearly 10 years ago, and once in the area, Kane found his love for mountain biking.
“I just started riding around where we lived in Summit Cover, and there were tons of great trails,” he said.
He started doing Mountain Bike Junior League – a beginner level program, also run by Westcott and his Maverick Sports Promotions, that teaches kids the basics of fat-tire riding, including etiquette on trails.
Kane then began SMC races and was soon winning his fair share in his respective divisions.
He decided to turn pro before the 2009 season (the first year he was old enough to be eligible to do so), and after a productive rookie year, Westcott can’t help but feel proud of the local kid he’s seen ride since 11.
“He’s just progressed so much,” Westcott said. “He took to the sport and wanted to pursue it at the highest level, and that’s what he’s doing.”
And while Kane has another summer full of international races and dreams someday of wearing the red, white and blue in the Olympics, he said he always will be at the starting line in the SMC.
“Not that I don’t get up for every race, but those are the ones I get the most motivated for,” he said of the SMC. “I’ve been doing them for eight or nine years now, these are my hometown races, and I want to do well in them.”
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