Ethan Farmer Rides to Victory at New England Mountain Bike Championship
RU Sophomore Ethan Farmer had a busy freshman year. There was schoolwork of course, plus a busy soccer season. But the ninth grader also found time to clock five to six hours a week on his mountain bike, riding trails and training for the New England Mountain Bike Championship.
“He came in first place out of 73 other bikers in the ‘B’ race,” said RU Athletic Director Steve Croucher (proudly). “And if he’d competed in the ‘A’ race, he’d have been in the top ten.”
“And that,” Croucher said, “is no small feat for a kid from a small public school in Vermont – that doesn’t have a bike club – who’s racing against bikers from throughout New England, most of whom come from private schools with well funded and established teams.”
Encouraged – and often accompanied – by Croucher, Farmer has been working hard on his climbing, turning, jumping, and other riding techniques while sticking to a strengthening regimen designed to prepare him for the kinds of challenges he’ll face on the racing circuit.
“I love mountain biking,” Farmer said. “I love the adventure, I love breaking new ground, I love the adrenaline rush. There’s nothing like that feeling that comes with knowing I’m the first person ever to take a bike down a new trail.”
Farmer got his start early. He raced motocross bikes as a kid, then moved on to BMX, single gear bikes. “But when you live in Vermont and are riding on trails that climb mountains, single gear just doesn’t cut it,” he said. “When I moved here about three years ago, I got a mountain bike and quickly realized how much I love riding the different kinds of terrain.”
It’s a love he and Croucher would also like to share with others.
“I’m hoping to get other students interested, and maybe forming a club here at RU,” Farmer said. “We have about five kids that ride with us now and we’d love to attract more. We’d also be open to forming a group with kids from other schools if it meant we could build a club.”
“The great thing about mountain biking,” he continued. “is that it’s not an ‘attitude driven’ sport. The people I’ve met who do this are mostly out there to enjoy themselves, better themselves, and help others do the same. We’re out there to have fun, follow the rules, be good stewards of the trails, and maybe win a few races. It’s something you do on your own, for yourself, but with others.”
And come winter? No problem. Farmer has a “fat bike” he rides in the snow.
“It’s got four inch tires, and it takes a little more effort, but it’ll go just about anywhere. And maybe that’s part of what I like so much about the sport – you can go a lot of places on two wheels, and you can do it 12 months out of the year.”
Farmer encourages anyone interested in getting into the sport, or just giving it a try, to contact him or Croucher. “You don’t even need a bike,” he said. “We got bikes and we have the gear. We just need people who want to get in shape, have some fun, and maybe discover the joy of riding.”