Carbondale teen clicking on bike circuit |

Carbondale teen clicking on bike circuit

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

Four years ago Dustin Belcher was an 11-year-old kid with a mountain bike. Then he got introduced to mountain bike racing.”I never thought that I’d get into racing,” Belcher recalled of being pushed into the sport by fellow Carbondale resident Dane Garvick. “But, when I did, it kind of clicked.”For Belcher, it was more like a cartwheel.Instead of pedaling across hills for fun, Belcher’s cycling turned into a serious training regimen. “I ride about four hours a day, because racing is a lot harder than people think,” he said. His training has paid off. With one race left in the 2006 Mountain Cup Series, Belcher zipped his way to the top of the Sport division, then opted to move up to the Junior X level.Prior to making the mid-season shift, the Roaring Fork High School sophomore finished third or higher in six of nine events, with three overall wins.Currently, Belcher said he’s “about the middle of the pack,” in the Junior X division. “But it’s a good learning experience riding with faster people.” And competing against older cyclists, Belcher’s still pretty fast. In a Junior X race at Snowmass, the newcomer came in ninth in two races.Yet it takes more than a bike to be successful, he said.”Racing is a lot harder than people think. You just can’t show up and do it. You’ve got to train and ride and log in a bunch of hours before you can compete. “Sure, you can show up and do it, but you’re not going to get top results,” Belcher explained.Training is one part. Another is willingness to go out and study the course prior to race day.”We get two days of practice on the course before we race. On the first day, I’ll go up there, stop and look around the course on my bike. That night I’ll hike it. The next day we do race runs.”That’s when you pick up your lines on the course and find out where the good sprinting spots are,” Belcher continued. “I’ll go to bed memorizing the course. Then on race day, you try to put it all together.”Meshing it all together can be hard, said Belcher.”Sometimes, it’s not coming together right and you get frustrated. Then on other days you have a great practice day and on race day, you get nervous or something’s bothering you.”Success in the sport doesn’t make it any easier.”Racing is kind of a love-hate relationship,” Belcher said. “When you’re at the top of the run, you’re nervous and you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But, when you get to the bottom it’s a really good feeling – I like that.”The good feelings he has at the finish line – along with training – are what pushes Belcher toward competing at mountain biking’s highest levels in the future.”In 2007 I’m going to compete in the 16-and-under division. I wouldn’t mind getting overall in that. Then later on I want go to Worlds. That’s my main goal.”

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