Fort Lewis College cyclist Ian Burnett is pedaling into his dream - he's going pro.
Burnett, who was born and raised in Durango, has signed a contract with the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team for
the 2010 road racing season.
And he can't wait.
"This year is going to be thrilling. I'm going to live the dream," Burnett said in an e-mail interview this week.
"I'm going ... to race with some of the world's greatest cyclists on my team and learn from the best coaching staff
and riders. It's going to be an amazing ride," said Burnett, the current president of the Fort Lewis Cycling team.
The new pro cycling team, with a 15-rider roster, will compete in the U.S. National Racing Calendar series and some
Burnett, a multi-faceted cyclist, is coming off a pair of top finishes at the recent College Track Nationals in
Pennsylvania. Burnett finished fourth in the 4K pursuit event and 11th in the 1K time trial despite extremely limited
Fort Lewis finished third overall at the track nationals.
The Durango native also helped power the Fort Lewis College road racing team into contention for another national
title last spring. The Skyhawks eventually finished fifth overall.
Burnett's new pro team is led by founder and former U.S. criterion champion Rahsaan Bahati of Los Angeles.
According to cyclingnews.com, Bahati rose from a background of extreme poverty in crime-ridden Compton, Calif., through his career in cycling. He's established a foundation devoted to helping underprivileged children rise above
The pro cycling team will spread the word about his foundation, Bahati said.
" ... I wanted to step out of the box, so not only are they (team riders) going to race their bikes, they're going to
have a purpose other than winning," Bahati told cyclingnews.com.
"The riders are going to the communities where the races are being held and help those kids and give them some
insight. They're going to let them know there's something bigger out there," Bahati said.
The combination of cycling and community outreach appealed to Burnett.
"I connected with the Bahati Foundation because of my connection with (coach) Rick Crawford and his commitment to be
involved with a pro racing team that was centered on coaching and community service," Burnett said.
"The mission of the foundation is to provide resources to inner-city children, and it's a very important one,"
Burnett said. "It's really great to be involved in a team that does so much more than just race."
A focus on training and coaching also attracted him to the Bahati team, Burnett said.
He named Durango's Crawford as an invaluable coach and mentor.
"The person that has been guiding and coaching me since I was 16 is Rick Crawford of Colorado Premier Training,"
Burnett said. "(He's) been instrumental in guiding me to this point. He has instructed me how to train and where to
focus my energies," Burnett said.
"Rick was the director of the cycling program at FLC until recently so he has been very involved in my development
through college," said Burnett, who's cycling roots are deep in mountain biking.
"As a Durango native, I started riding my bike at a very young age. I watched my Dad ride the Iron Horse
(Bicycle Classic) every year. I started racing my mountain bike (the Four Corners Cup) at the age of 12," he said.
Burnett continued to race mountain bikes until he was 19 and racing in the semi-pro category.
Then, he slowly shifted to road racing.
Those deep Durango cycling roots, he said, paved the way to his signing a professional road racing contract.
"When I was a young mountain biker, I was surrounded by professionals like Ned Overend and many other great
riders," Burnett said.
"I think that being surrounded (by) and training with so many great pros that live in Durango is a huge reason that I
was able to make it to this point."
The Fort Lewis program, he said, provided the final step into the pro ranks.
"The Fort Lewis College cycling team has been a huge influence and a great boost to my cycling career," Burnett said.
"Juggling school, training, and racing has given me the skill set that I need to ... enter the professional ranks.
FLC Cycling is one of the premier cycling development platforms in the U.S. and has been indispensable in my
Burnett signed with Bahati's squad along with Alex Hagman, another former Skyhawk cyclist.
Hagman raced most recently with Ciclismo Racing on the National Racing Calendar circuit. Hagman finished second in
the 2009 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, a race that featured an early breakaway by Burnett (who eventually finished
Bahati himself brings extensive international racing experience to the new team along with Australia's Hilton Clarke
and Nathan O'Neill.
Jason Donald of Brighton is another cyclist with Pro Tour stages under his belt. He raced with Garmin-Slipstream the
last three seasons. He's also a former collegiate road racing national champion.
Bahati's former teammate at Rock Racing, Cesar Grajales, also is on the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team roster for
Other riders are Ryan Baumann, Corey Collier, Bobby Lea, Peter Carey, Phillip Mann, Evan Hyde and Lanell Rockmore.
They'll meet for a training camp in February.
Until then, Burnett said, he'll train under Crawford.
"Crawford's going to have me in great shape by March when our season kicks off officially," said Burnett, who's also
a familiar figure charging down center ice in local hockey leagues at the Chapman Hill rink.
"There will be a training camp in February, but by that time I'll have completed my base training and should be
pretty fit," Burnett said.
"We do a lot of gym, core and cross training this time of year, so there's a lot of variety."
The son of Chris and Tecumseh Burnett of Durango, Burnett said he's eagerly awaiting his race schedule.
And he hopes the race agenda allows time for the annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
Obviously, he said, if he's in town he'll ride in the Iron Horse - wearing the kit of a Bahati pro cyclist.