Professional development mountain bike teams around the country always have their eye on Durango’s young and upcoming talent and routinely swoop up the top riders for their national teams. But those teams don’t have enough roster space and resources to take on all the speedy Durangoans.
In years past, it was largely the Whole Athlete and Bear Development teams in California that claimed Durango’s top talent, and the Bear team has claimed several Durango riders since the Whole Athlete team folded this year. Other top programs teams include Rouleur Development Team based out of Utah and Summit Cycling Development with programs in Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Texas and Utah.
Even with all of those opportunities, many more Durango cyclists without teams have the ability to post quality results at the biggest races across the country. So, Durango DEVO wanted to provide riders an elite team of its own.
The result was the birth of DEVO 3000.
“We started this team to make a place for the riders that didn’t get invited to the Bear, Summit, Roleur national teams. We just have so many high-level kids that we needed a next-level deal locally,” said DEVO coach and co-founder Chad Cheeney. “Besides coaching, they also get a monthly lecture series, and every Wednesday they do some sort of fun, unique training race-ride with myself and a slew of local stars.”
Four boys and four girls were selected for the team. The girls team is made up of Aleah Austin, Sage Davis, Hannah Garvey and Abbey Sheppard. The boys are Sean Holly, Riley Jaber, Jaden Kirk and Ian Kutzleb.
“This 3000 team kind of put together the cream of the crop of the local bikers here in Durango,” Sheppard said. “I’m getting feedback and learning tips and trick that really help me as a racer.”
The team is coached by Cheeney with team manager Sam Vickery, and each athlete is paired up with a local pro mentor, all former Durango DEVO riders or Fort Lewis College cycling alums.
Mentors have included local pros Ellen Campbell, Stephan Davoust, Katja Freeburn, Benjamin Sonntag and Sarah Sturm. Cheeney said Howard Grotts and Rotem Ishay also have been involved.
“It has helped me leaps and bounds,” said Jaber, who is mentored by Davoust. “I never really had a structured training. This year, it’s been monumental for me to have that. It’s an extra motivator for me to do well to make Stephan happy. Now, there’s a purpose behind what I’m doing, and it’s boosting my mental and physical game. I’m a lot more confident.”
DEVO 3000 will head off to USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships this week in Winter Park. At last week’s practice, the team worked on the mental preparation it takes to compete at nationals. Saturday, Cheeney set up a course to mimic the nationals cross-country course, and the DEVO 3000 riders got a chance to practice along with the area’s Bear Development Team athletes many more Durango DEVO riders and alumni who will compete at nationals.
While the DEVO 3000 team aims to be a bit more serious and race-focused than the rest of DEVO’s programs, which prioritize fun and building life-long cyclists, the team’s focus is still to have fun on bikes while competing.
And about the name?
“We want to put a mountain biker on the moon by the year 3000,” Cheeney joked. “You see it on our jerseys, they all have space doodles.”