Davis is widely known as the biking capital of the world: adults ride their bikes to work downtown, students ride their bikes to school and the U.S Bicycling Hall of Fame sits on the corner of Third and B streets.
The local youth competitive cycling team has been just another spoke in that wheel — until now.
That’s because the recent achievements of five young racers — 10-year-olds Parker Miller and Killian Bush; Jack Hargrove, 13; Su Tuli, 14; and Will Kanz, 17 — have officially introduced the community to the Davis Bike Club Juniors team.
Each of the five speedsters recently finished in the top three of their respective categories in the Junior Points Series, a group of bike races run by the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association. Each of the local riders earned a bright green jersey with the word “Leader” plastered across the back.
“I hope (the five racers’ achievements) will make (youth cycling) grow within the community,” said team director Russ Kanz. “Also I think it will help these kids really grow in the future, and really like cycling, and really carry the sport on forward.”
The Junior Points Series consists of three different types of races — criteriums, road races and time trials — and participants get points based on their finishes at each event. The age groups compete in different amounts of races.
Three of the locals finished second in their age group’s point standings — Miller in the girls 11-12, Tuli in the girls 13-14 and Will Kanz in the boys 16-18 — while Bush took third in the boys 9-10 and Hargrove placed third in the boys 13-14.
Another DBC rider, 17-year-old Anna Park, would have led the girls 17-18 division, but did not compete in enough races to qualify.
The success of this year’s squad has shined a light on a DBC Juniors team that has been in existence for more than 30 years. With around 10 kids on the team now — numbers fluctuate when athletes take leave to compete in other sports like golf and soccer — the program hopes to expand and improve.
“We definitely get our team name out there, we get our sponsors out there, it definitely shows how we are a team and we work together,” Will Kanz said. “So overall, it puts us out there throughout Northern California and even Southern California.”
While competitive success is important, another of the main goals of the DBC Junior program is allowing kids to grow as cyclists. Many of the participants start out just riding for fun.
“Since I’ve been here for three years, I have better bicycle handling skills and I’m faster too,” Tuli said. “I know more people outside of school because of this.
“Most of the sports kids like to do are soccer, basketball, baseball, stuff like that, and I feel like cycling is a unique sport that everybody should try.
“It’s a great opportunity because Davis is a bike town and it’s a bike town for a reason. A lot of kids would like it if they tried it more.”
Tuli’s take is music to Russ Kanz’s ears as he wants the team’s main function to be instilling in local kids a love of cycling that will last a lifetime.
“This is about kids learning to ride, enjoying riding and developing,” Kanz said. “We want them to continue riding when they’re 18, 21, 25, whenever it is. Our emphasis is on learning more than the competition side of it; that’s what’s more important.”
— Reach Thomas Oide at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterThomas