Mountain bike competitors, much like their traditional sporting classmates, train hard, study well, and think big. But mountain bikers just so happen to have a much larger field of play.
Ada Urist has worked hard to become a top-level student-athlete while racing in the Colorado High School Cycling League for Fairview High School.
Ada shared some of her thoughts on riding, balancing school and training, and where she’s planning to go. Keep her name in mind in the coming years, she’s got big plans. Go big. Go Ada.
How did you discover cycling?
As with most kids, my parents taught me how to ride a bike in elementary school just for the fun of it. When I was around 7 years old, we bought our first tandem and I started riding it with my dad. His family is from Switzerland, and we brought the tandem and my mom’s touring bike with us when the three of us went to visit. We did two point-to-point tours on the tandem, about 600 miles each, and one tour with all of us on our own bikes. I loved long days in the saddle and getting to go to cool places. We rode all over Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, as well as some long gravel routes around Colorado. I rode my mountain bike with my family and friends at home, and I started racing when I joined Fairview High School’s team. I got more and more into racing, eventually competing at the State, National, and World Championships.
How has cycling changed your life?
Cycling has taught me the value of dedication and perseverance. I have come to love hard work and setting ambitious goals that I can pursue day in and day out. I have also met some of my closest friends through cycling and I enjoy the welcoming and supportive community. Cycling has also cultivated my love of travel; I’ve been to Europe and Canada three times each to ride my bike, and I’m hoping to do more international riding and racing.
We know you are an exceptional student, how has cycling complimented your studies?
I am pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma at Fairview High School, which at times has made it challenging to balance cycling and school work. I’ve learned that sometimes I have to trade one for the other, but overall, the demands of sports and academics keep me focussed and provide a break from one another. Training and racing can take my mind off of homework and tests, while my time-consuming school projects don’t give me enough time to worry too much about racing. Whether it’s calculus or mountain biking, I enjoy challenging myself and I find that both school and riding allow me to push myself to become the best person I can be.
What advice would you give to a younger student considering cycling or sport in general?
Everyone should have an activity that gets them excited about being outside and having fun. I’ve tried fencing, judo, juggling club (that counts as a sport, right?), and swimming, and all of them were so much fun, got me to step out of my comfort zone, and let me learn new things. Of course, I would recommend cycling, but any sport is a great way to meet new people, find challenges, and stay healthy. Competition is a fun way to take sports to the next level as it provides extra motivation to set goals and train hard to achieve them, but it definitely isn’t necessary. If anyone is considering a sport, they should give it a try!
Why do you love the bike?
Biking gives me confidence, teaches me life lessons, and it’s just plain fun. Whether I’m training for a big race or going on an epic 90-mile off-road adventure, cycling lets me live in the moment and makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. I’ve learned that I can overcome setbacks and that I won’t get it right every time. I love the freedom that comes from riding and being able to go anywhere I want; I’ve had so many amazing experiences through cycling and I’m sure that there are many more to come.