They just love sharing the love.
That’s the strongest thing fueling the kinship that has developed between the FLC Cycling team and Durango Devo, a six-year-old youth-development cycling club for Durango-area kids and young adults. And with an area like southwestern Colorado to cycle around, the program’s participants and alumni have already made their mark in amateur, collegiate, and professional cycling.
Devo was started in 2006 by a Durango middle school teacher who formed a school cycling club and saw its popularity boom – not a surprise in cycling-crazy Durango. After combining forces with FLC alum Chad Cheeney (Exercise Science, ‘03), Devo grew into an independent junior development mountain bike program for riders ages 2 to 25, with the mission “to develop each individual, in a traditional team setting, into life-long cyclists.” Today there are more than 300 budding cyclists in the program, coached by 40 volunteers, including local professionals and FLC Cycling coaches and riders, training and competing all over the region.
The roster of prominent former Devo riders includes Howard Grotts, who also won two individual national collegiate championship titles in mountain biking with the FLC Cycling team. In August, Grotts was named to the USA Cycling team and will be representing the United States in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, August 26 - September 1, and at the 2013 UCI Four-Cross Mountain Bike World Championships, in Saalfelden Leogang, Austria, September 20 - 21. Also on the team is former FLC Cycling rider Todd Wells.
For Grotts, the part of the Devo experience he remembers most was the connection among the community of cyclists the group forged – a connection, he says that prepared him well for his professional career.
"Devo helped by getting me to races, particularly Nationals, to test myself against other riders in the country and see that I could have success in this sport," he says. "More importantly, though, Devo always emphasized having fun over performing well. That’s a much more important goal if you want to have a future in cycling.”
Riders with Durango Devo, FLC Cycling, and the Ska/Zia team gather for a group ride in Durango’s Overend Mountain Park. "FLC Cycling wouldn't be a collegiate cycling powerhouse without the incredible resource the Durango cycling community offers to us," says Dave Hagen, Director of FLC Cycling. “We have an obligation to give back to that community so we can all flourish. Supporting Devo is at the heart of that.”
Chad Cheeney (front) wears more hats (and helmets) in the Durango cycling community than he can count: FLC Cycling team alumnus and present mountain biking and cross country coach, Sweet Elite Team manager, Devo U19 boys head coach, and Devo co-founder. "My time with FLC Cycling definitely inspired the idea of creating a community program for young cyclists in Durango,” he says. “As a Skyhawk cyclist, you work and play within the community so much, you meet the people and see the passion for life, it’s hard not to get absorbed into this town and want to help out. "
FLC Cycling riders serve as mentors and friends to the younger Devo riders. Says Sarah Tescher, co-founder of Devo and director of Sportif, Junior Devo, and Devo’s summer camps: “Devo has fast riders, some of the fastest riders in the country, but our focus is on growing the sport and getting more kids on bikes. And many of our kids end up wanting to race for Fort Lewis College because of the culture of FLC Cycling."
And they’re off! An FLC rider gets a Junior Devo race started.
FLC team rider and Junior Devo coach Garrett Alexander (a junior Engineering major) leads Stephan Davoust, a freshman Engineering major and Devo rider, down a steep section on a local trail.
Durango and Fort Lewis College are set in the middle of thousands of miles of mountain roads and singletrack, making the next great ride just around the corner.
Elke Brutsaert, FLC Cycling’s women’s coach and Devo’s U19 Girls Head Coach, loves the relationship between the two teams: "By being involved in both programs, you gain this perspective of how that lower level feeds right into the older groups of cyclists. A lot more doors open up when you give these kids resources such as training camps and teams to compete on."
Visit FLC Cycling.
Learn more about Durango Devo.