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Sandy Journal

Alta mountain biking program gets a large donation from GT Bicycles

Jun 21, 2017 12:26PM ● By Billy Swartzfager

Incoming sophomore Gabe Rasmuson at practice. (Billy Swartzfager/City Journals)

By Billy Swartzfager | [email protected]
Alta has a mountain bike team, something that many people aren’t aware of. There are over 70 kids, both boys and girls, on the team who compete in several races throughout the season. The team is technically a non-curriculum club, meaning it doesn’t belong to the high school, but the members live within the high school’s boundaries. That also means the team doesn’t get any sort of funding from Alta High School or Canyons School District.
The program, in Alta and statewide, has grown incredibly over the last few years. Prep mountain biking started in Utah in 2009. The Utah High School Cycling League will be starting its sixth season this fall.
“The program started with about a dozen kids in Alta and now there are 2,500 kids racing in Utah,” Steve Hales, head coach of Alta’s mountain bike team, said.
Mountain bikes aren’t cheap, especially good ones. The father of one of the up-and-coming riders from the junior development program noticed not all of the kids participating were riding on bikes that were safe, let alone fit to be competitive. That is when Steve Spencer, global sports marketing manager for GT Bicycles, got the wheels turning on a donation from the company he represents that would assist the growing program at Alta and help kids get the best out of their experience while on the trails.
“Everyone is having a great time regardless of skill level, and I just wanted to improve their experience,” Spencer said.
Part of GT’s mission is to get more people out on bikes, not only to get them out but to get them having fun.
“GT is all about getting people to have a good time while on a bike,” said GT’s senior PR manager, Sofia Whitcombe.
GT donated 11 bikes to Alta’s team, hoping that some of the participants would be able to experience races on a top-of-the line bike, and hopefully be able to use a few of them as spares when someone’s bike is broken down during a race or for an extended period of time. The donation was worth well over $30,000, according to Spencer.
The team wouldn’t be able to succeed without donations from organizations such as GT and a whole host of other sponsors, and the coach understands that and hopes he can get the kids who benefit from such generosity to understand it as well.
“If they are going to use a bike for the whole year, a kid has to commit to all five races during the season and meet minimum practice requirements,” Hales said. “Our sponsors typically pay for the first race for every kid on the team who makes all of the practices too.”
One of the team’s sponsors, Lake Town Bikes, took the time to put all of the donated bikes together for the team. The shop also supplies discounts to kids who participate in the program for bikes and needed repairs. The team, their partners and their sponsors all hope to have the kids ready for the season to begin when school is back in session, and getting on a bike and maintaining it is necessary for kids to be prepared.
During the summer, the team meets regularly to cover an assortment of mountain biking skills for every level of rider on the team. The team gathers to ride near Park City at Bob’s Basin and at the Draper Cycle Park. The group is full of happy kids and energetic, passionate coaches, all of whom will enjoy the season a little more thanks to the generosity of GT Bicycles.