Rob Kelley

Rob Kelley has coached bike racers with his company, Training Bible Cycling, since 2005. Now he’s taking over as head coach for Salida’s high school mountain bike team.

“With Dena (Gillis’) help,” I’m excited,” Kelley said. “Riding with the kids and training is all fun.”

Kelley said he learned his coaching style from Joe Friel, the co-founder of trainingbible.com, focusing on “periodization.”

“Instead of just riding into the ground, the idea is train on a trajectory,” Kelley said. “The goal is to have them flying for the races in October.”

He said every day has a purpose, whether it be doing hill intervals or sitting on the couch and resting.

“It’s geared so they can have the best form they can have at the races that matter to them,” he said.

With 48 athletes on the team, Kelley also has the biggest team of any fall sport at Salida High School.

“We’ll try to figure out where the kids are and find a program that works for them,” Kelley said.

Unlike Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) sports, which are divided by school size, the Colorado Mountain Bike League separates teams into three divisions based on the number of racers on the team. Squads like Salida, with 30 or more racers, will compete in the biggest league, Division 1.

“Teams like Boulder have infinitely more kids in their school and on the team, but our goal is to compete with them,” Kelley said.

The trails here are also a big asset.

“Salida kids are really good on their bikes because the technical stuff around here is hard core,” he said. “The challenge is to get them to do the reps. As far as skills go, these kids are off the charts.”

The team began practicing a week earlier than last year, giving them two weeks to prepare for their first race, which will take place Sunday at the McMurry Ranch in Nathrop.

“Logistically, that’s a huge help to have,” Kelley said.

The team spent the weekend camping and riding the Monarch Crest, having fun and getting to know each other.

The team will also camp out when it races in Aspen Snowmass, Eagle and Durango.

While the team is self-supported and raises its own money through sponsors, the school is also giving it a bus and a driver for the first time this year, Kelley said, adding that it might be the only school in their league to do that.

“That show of support has been really, really nice,” Kelley said. “Salida is all about mountain biking, and I think this team will really make them proud.”

Kelley also credited his “amazing crew of coaches.” He said they “volunteer their time and selflessly go about helping our kids stay safe and be their best.”

Assisting Kelley are coaches Dena Gillis (team director), Cari Beasley, David Belmont, James Bove, Eric Ramsey, Ignacio Barrantes, Jodi DeMoss, Kim Bouldin, Kim Smith, Peter Kelley, Shawn Gillis, Simon Waldbaum, Steve Stewart and Zach Zeiset.