It’s all downhill from here
Local teen is shifting into a big gear after earning spot on national teamBy Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Today, 17-year-old Dustin Belcher packed his bags for his first trip abroad. As part of a Roaring Fork High School journey, Belcher, a soon-to-be senior, has been planning all year to go explore Germany with his classmates.Now, thanks to his mountain biking skills, he’ll also be venturing to Italy to ride against the world’s best as a member of the USA Cycling World Junior Mountain Bike Downhill Team.Belcher caught the eye of the selection committee for the squad after finishing second in the 46-rider field of the junior expert division at the Mountain States Cup Chile Challenge in Angle Fire, N.M., on May 24-26.”The competition was pretty stiff. There were kids from all over the country,” he said.
A week after the competition, Belcher’s mother, K.C. Belcher, got an e-mail from USA Cycling informing her that her son had been selected as one of six junior members representing the U.S. in the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale or International Cycling Union) Mountain Bike World Championships in Italy. Dustin got the news in a slightly more alerting fashion.”I was sleeping and my mom got an e-mail,” he said. “She yelled down to me, ‘You made it!'”Now Belcher is packing up his things for a European tour. After a few days in Germany, he will head to Val di Sole, Italy, for the competition, which will be held June 15-22. He will be going against the best the world has to offer in the 17- to 18-year-old division.”I am a little nervous,” he said on Sunday.Belcher, who has been competitively riding since age 10, said that making the U.S. team has been his focus for a while.
“It has been a big goal of mine,” he said. “I have had it since last year.”After a second-place finish in his division in the Mountain States Cup Series in 2007, Belcher suffered a setback when a shoulder injury forced him to have surgery over the winter and stay off his bike this spring. Once he climbed back on his bike for the first competition in 2008, which happened to be the Chile Challenge, he wasted no time getting back in the groove. His time of 5 minutes, 53.04 seconds, was second to only Naish Ulmer’s 5:38 and fast enough to secure his trip to the Mountain Bike World Championships.Belcher is currently in his first year of riding with Team Totally Wired out of Winter Park. Outside of his training with the team, he rides every day somewhere in the Roaring Fork Valley. Whether it is cross country trails up Prince Creek or road rides or any downhill stretch he can find, Belcher is always training on his bike. Pretty soon he will be training on new ground.”We are going to train a week before and get used to the climate and get our bodies acclimated,” he said of his plans with the U.S. team.Even though the week-long competition starts on June 15, Belcher and the remaining downhill junior riders won’t hit the trail until June 17.
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