For the week of August 12 thru August 18, 1998
Cody Peterson single-tracks his way to college
By CHAS MORRIS
The Wood River Valley seems to produce more than its share of athletes and Cody Peterson is no exception to that prolific segment of our small population.
Mountain biking, which has long been a summertime attraction for residents of and visitors to Blaine County, is reaching a new level with the talents of this Hailey resident.
Cody, is 18 years old, and has spent the last five years, "a long time" in his words; learning the skills necessary to ride on rugged terrain and training long hours to condition himself for this grueling event.
Mountain biking is unique to other forms of cycling in that it combines the agility required of off-road terrain with the element of endurance for long stretches of uninterrupted effort.
The races are typically 25 miles long and, unlike road racing, if your mountain bike has a flat or breaks a chain, you have to fix it on the spot. No friendly support van is standing by to offer refreshments or a hand with repairs.
Cody competes in the expert class now, and expects to turn semi-pro next summer.
In a recent competition in Deer Valley, Utah, he finished first in a field made up of pros. The race followed what will be the bobsled course for the 2000 Winter Olympics.
He made the 1,400-foot-long, 400-foot-elevation change in four minutes. He earned $250 for first place. The time it took to make the money brings a triumphant grin to his face.
"Thats $3,750 an hour," he says.
This fall Cody will be attending Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Ky. on a full scholarship for his mountain-biking attributes.
He is planning to major in business, and will be a strong addition to the collegiate racing team.
The college team will offer a different kind of approach to the sport than Codys previous individual competition.
On a team, the tactic of blocking for the sake of a better-positioned ally is expected. Short of striking another competitor or knocking him off his bike, hindering progress by slowing down on narrow, impassable stretches is acceptable. A lead rider from a team can create a big gap from pursuers when other team members are riding cooperatively.
Yet competing individually has its glory. At Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Cody rode three miles uphill for a vertical change of 1,500 feet in 24 minutes. He again placed first among a field of professionally ranked riders.
Accidents are a perennial danger in mountain biking.
"Most wipeouts occur going downhill," says Cody.
That is where skill plays an important role. Overestimating your ability can be a painful realization.
"Especially in the school parking lot," jokes Cody.
Next fall, when classes resume, Cody will be devoting part of his time biking through the hills of Kentucky and racing at the collegiate level. As he is already aware, the winters are mild in Kentucky. "Hills, yes, but snow, no!"
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