Local rider takes fifth at national comp
Post Independent Staff
Four years ago, 17-year-old Dane Garvik discovered mountain biking.
He started on the cross-country circuit but quickly changed direction.
“I started out doing cross country, but then went to downhill because I figured gravity is in my favor,” Garvik said.
Garvik, a senior at Roaring Fork High School, is the No. 2 racer in the Sport Men 18-and-Under category in the state and is coming off a fifth-place finish at the National Off-Road Biking Association Championships Sept. 17 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Getting to be one of the top racers in the country hasn’t been easy for Garvik, since biking and training have consumed his life.
He is constantly cruising down the trails in the summertime, and in the winter he is in the gym, waiting for the snow to melt so he can get back on the mountains.
“As much downtime as I have, I spend on my bike,” Garvik said. “Every chance that I get, I am on my bike.”
Every summer for the past four years, Garvik has raced in the Mountain State Cup, a regional series consisting of 10 competitions in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. But this summer, his finishes placed him among the top 10 riders in a field of 73 and landed him an invitation to the NORBA Championships.
He was one of 12 racers in the Sport Men 18-and-Under field, all of whom were fighting to be the fastest rider to get down the 1.75-mile course.
Garvik had two days to get familiar with the course before the championship race.
After testing out the hill at Mammoth Mountain Resort and taking a few spills, Garvik found himself in conditions he had never seen before.
“There was no top soil on the course. There was lots of gravel ” nine inches deep,” Garvik said. “You would be going down the hill at 40 mph and both of your tires are sliding like you are in mud.”
Garvik spent the next two days riding and studying the course.
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“I practiced around four hours a day and got around 20 runs in,” Garvik said. “During the race I never fell, but during the practice runs I fell a few times. You have to test what you can do and how fast you can go. You can never go on a course and not fall, but you figure it out.”
As race day rolled around, Garvik felt like he was as prepared as he could be for the championship, even though the course would be a little different than what he saw the previous two days.
“With riders going down it hundreds of times, the course changes a lot and stuff will be there that wasn’t there before,” Garvik said.
Garvik made it down the hill in 5:35.76, a little more than eight seconds behind the winner and the fifth-fastest to get across the finish line.
“It was a pretty good race,” Garvik said. “You do well at a race like this and you got to know that only the best are allowed to go and compete. The competition is fierce and it is a really good boost for yourself.”
The race concluded the 2005 mountain-biking season for Garvik, and he will now throw himself into his winter-training schedule.
“It is the end of the season and it is the ultimate topper,” Garvik said. “Now I can make resumes and apply for sponsors.”
Sponsors are crucial in mountain biking, where the costs of a bike ” around $4,000 ” and replacing parts, race entry fees and traveling add up fast. After working at Ajax Bike and Sport for four years, Garvik has learned how to maintain his bike himself, but still has to buy parts and travel to races.
Garvik is currently sponsored by Nine Seven Zero, an extreme clothing company based out of Carbondale that gives him free exposure on their Web site, but he needs more if he wants to continue racing at a higher level.
“I am looking for bike sponsors who may flip the bill for new bikes and possibly cover entry fees,” Garvik said. “I am looking for everything I can get.”
By the time the dirt on the trails begins to surface next spring, Garvik will be getting ready to graduate from Roaring Fork. After high school, he is looking at attending Fort Lewis College or the University or Northern Colorado.
“Right now I am really looking at Fort Lewis,” Garvik said. “There is great biking there and that is going to be a big part of my decision.”
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