Last weekend, Aug. 10-12, Zach Graveson, 18, a recent graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, competed in the Mountain States Cup Series Final in Telluride and took home the state championship in downhill mountain biking, age 15-18 class.
Like many children, Graveson learned to ride a bike when he was very young, but he has only begun to mountain bike seriously in the last three years. In that time, he has suffered a broken collarbone three times, “some stitches here and there” and, last year, a torn ACL.
Now, Graveson is back and better than ever.
He took home the title after finishing first in the final race of the series in Telluride. Graveson finished with a time of 3 minutes, 14 seconds, beating 21 competitors, including six riders from Telluride who regularly ride the course. The points Graveson scored at the final race, combined with those in three previous races, put him in first place in the series by 30 points.
Graveson had a rough start to the series when he competed in Angel Fire, N.M., and placed 12th after crashing mid-race. But, by his second race, Graveson turned things around; he finished first in the race at Crested Butte, over the weekend of June 22-24.
Things continued to look up for him when he finished second in his race at Aspen.
With his new state champ title, Graveson also received a state champ jersey, gear for his bike and, of course, “some medals and stuff.” Coming off this big win, Graveson was quick to thank his family for their constant support, Peddle and Powder for taking care of him and being a great sponsor and, as he says, most importantly, “I have to thank the Lord. I couldn’t do it without Him.”
Graveson’s sponsor, Peddle and Powder, a local shop in Pagosa, has been sponsoring him for the last two years, providing him with parts, service and lots of support.
“He’s an awesome kid, really phenomenal. We are so proud of him. We have been so blessed to sponsor him; he has really brought us a lot.” says Lisa Pherson, who owns the shop with her husband, Bill.
The couple are so devoted to Graveson they shut down their shop the last two weekends to attend his races. Lisa shared some information, which Graveson failed to divulge. “Zach won that race despite an injury. During his Saturday practice, he wrecked hard, ripped his shorts and injured his hip and thigh. But he got up the next morning and raced anyway. He just eats, drinks and sleeps downhill.”
Graveson, who hopes to take mountain bike racing as far as he can, will start this fall as a freshman at Fort Lewis College where he plans to study geology and continue his mountain bike racing career at the college level.
When asked what he thinks his prospects are for next year, Graveson responded, “I’m feeling really good about it all. I’m really exited to race. Moving up to the collegiate level means I’ll be able to compete in more advanced races on a national level. And, for the first time, I’ll have a coach to teach me how to eat and train and really take myself to the next level. I’ll be able to get more hours on the bike than ever.”