Cycling team on a roll in Sisters
Last updated 11/7/2023 at 12:45pm
The Sisters Outlaws Mountain Bike Team pedaled to a fourth-place finish in State competition this fall - an outstanding result considering that the team has only five high school riders.
Coach Jon Fogarty has been building the program since its inaugural season in 2022, when they didn't field enough high school riders to represent their school. They started with 10 total - four middle school and six high school riders. One dropped out, but that still left enough to represent SHS.
Senior racer Will Fogarty took overall honors in the South Conference, and was poised to make a hard run at the state title.
"I flatted on lap one - while leading," he told The Nugget, his frustration evident. "It was fun though, and I guess that's what counts."
Fogarty recounted what led to the flat.
"I pushed a little too hard on this one section and got a little bit off the line I should have been on," he said.
He hit a small rock and popped his tire. A rider from Corvallis stopped and helped Fogarty fix the flat, and they rode together to the finish.
"Which was nice," Fogarty said. "I think winning would have been a little nicer, not gonna lie."
Sisters Katie and Josie Ryan were satisfied with their season's conclusion.
"It ended on a pretty high note," Katie said. "It was the second-to-last race in Madras that I beat the person I had been coming in second behind."
Josie said the season "was pretty good. I got third in state in my division, which is pretty competitive."
Katie, a senior in high school, said that racing for her isn't all that different from riding her bike for pleasure. That's her approach to all her sports - including playing soccer for the Outlaws.
"Winning isn't the goal for me, really," she said. "It's like soccer for me; I do it because it's fun."
She acknowledges, however, that "winning is more fun."
Josie, a freshman, acknowledges that she's a more competitive person in general. She's a varsity runner for the Outlaws cross- country team (see related story, page 4).
"It's really good cross-training," she said in regards to mountain bike racing. "I think it was just something to do in middle school, and I stuck with it. Now I love it, because it's a challenge - and I'm pretty decent."
All of the athletes cited the culture of mountain bike racing as part of the draw. It's an atmosphere where athletes tend to encourage each other and bring out the best in their fellow riders. The sportsmanship displayed by that Corvallis rider is not uncommon.
"Most of the time, people are pretty hyped up for other people's success," Will Fogarty said.
Katie and Josie's mother, Kim Ryan, said, "They're competing against a lot of the same girls, and they become pretty friendly with the competition."
And, she noted, "It helped foster some mental toughness, and it's helped their other sports, for sure."
Coach Fogarty is continuing to build the program, which will lose two seniors next year. Will Fogarty plans to attend Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado next year, where he will race collegiately among many elite riders. He also plans to enter some 100-plus-mile events.
The coach encourages young people in Sisters to consider racing, where they can build skills in a lifetime sport.
"We're not here to churn out pro cyclists," he said. "We're here to turn out people with lifelong healthy habits."
His son concurred.
"Cross-country at least gets you ridiculously fit and living healthy lifestyle - and boosts your mental health," he said. "It's Type 2 fun, 'cause it's really hard, but it's really rewarding."
To learn more, email Jon Fogarty at [email protected].