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Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru junior team enhances talent pool as it enters seventh year

March 13, 2015
The Alpha Bicycle Company - Vista Subaru Team hopes to spray lots of bubbly during the 2015/16 'cross season. Here Lauren Zoerner sprays carbonated cider at the 2014 state champs.

The Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru Team hopes to spray lots of bubbly during the 2015/16 ‘cross season. Here Lauren Zoerner celebrates her 2014 Colorado championship in the 11 to 12 category with sparkling cider.

Adam Rachubinski and Aaron Zoerner started their new venture with four families and ten kids in a Denver suburb. Six years later the Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru junior cycling squad achieved international recognition during the 2014/15 season with rider Gage Hecht’s success in Europe. That’s a testament to Hecht’s talent, but also to the many hours the two founders and others have put into building the ‘cross-focused team which supports riders aged seven to eighteen.

“We had the idea to fill in the gap for a junior program in the south area of town after the ACA Mudskipper program was cut,” explains Rachubinski, who is the team’s director. [the ACA is the precursor to the current Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado – ed.]

“It really succeeded because the families all got super involved and took the time with the kids. The program has now grown to over thirty-five kids with a fleet of bikes and a ton of equipment.”

In recent years the average age of team members has leaned to the younger side of junior competition. “Our biggest age range is nine to twelve girls, followed probably by twelve to fourteen boys,” notes Rachubinski.

Last season the team increased the maturity of its roster by adding multiple-time cyclocross national champion Hecht. In his first year in the 17 to 18 category he nearly captured a medal at the 2015 world championships in Tabor in the junior race and finished fourth. His results spurred the team’s sponsors to support more riders.

Gage Hecht leads the Netherlands' Max Gulickx after the stairs in the fourth lap at 2015 world championships. Eli Iserbyt chases right behind them.

Gage Hecht battled with Max Gulickx (Netherlands) for third place at 2015 world championships

“The people at Vista Auto Group and Subaru have believed in our vision for the team since we launched it six years ago and they want to work with us to continue to grow the sport and help young racers reach their potential,” Rachubinski says. “After all of Gage Hecht’s success, we sat down and wanted to help more athletes. Vista Subaru was immediately on board, no hesitation. Those are the kind of partners that help a program be successful and viable long term.”

While retaining Hecht for the upcoming season, the team has expanded its talent pool in the older junior and U23 categories, positioning itself for more opportunities to shine in international races like the new Pan American cyclocross championships and world championships. Additionally, riders like Ashley Zoerner and Allison Moorhead, who have worn the team’s green and black kit for several years, have aged into the 17 to 18 category.

Ashley Zoerner on her way to another state cyclocross championship in 2014

Ashley Zoerner on her way to another state cyclocross championship in 2014

Ashley Zoerner’s resume includes a national championship and several state titles. She as well as Moorhead have been frequent winners in women’s cat 3 races and competitors in senior elite fields.

Evan Clouse charges the stairs at 2015 cyclocross nationals

Evan Clouse charges the stairs at 2015 cyclocross nationals

The new recruits are brother-sister duo Evan and Katie Clouse from Park City, Utah. Evan Clouse will be a first year in the 17 to 18 category this fall. He has collected UCI junior and cat 3 wins. At 2015 national championships he finished second after a mechanical took him out of the fight for gold.

Katie Clouse speeds off the line at 2015 cyclocross nationals in the rain

Katie Clouse speeds off the line at 2015 cyclocross nationals in the rain

Katie Clouse will be a first year in the 15 to 16 cohort. She often stands on Colorado ‘cross podiums alongside professional riders and has earned three national titles. Cycling Utah named her 2014 cyclist of the year.

Brannan Fix finished 15th

Brannan Fix at 2015 cyclocross worlds

A new U23 rider, Brannan Fix, also joins the youthful armada. Fix competed in the junior ‘cross world’s race at Tabor as well; he finished fifteenth out of seventy-plus starters. Fix and Hecht both live in Colorado.

This cadre of junior and U23 elite cyclists will likely steal the show at next season’s American ‘cross races. Traveling to the UCI junior races will entail planning, transporting equipment over hundreds of miles, and more. But Rachubinski won’t labor over it all alone.

Co-founder Aaron Zoerner contributes to the team’s well-being in multiple ways, including working in the pit during races where he stands for hours in all kinds of weather. In Colorado, that can and does mean snow, wind, and sub-freezing temperatures. He’s Ashley’s dad and father of another female racer on the team.

“It’s a lot of work to get all that gear to the races and get it set up, torn down and maintained,” Rachubinski notes. “I definitely have a lot of support people who help get things done for the team. A handful of parents have stepped up huge in terms of logistics and planning. The guys at the shop fill in a lot during the season and make the effort to keep the kids’ stuff running top notch.”

Rachubinski owns Alpha Bicycle Company, a bike shop in Centennial, Colorado where the team is based. Running a business takes dedication beyond nine to five work hours. So what compels him to take on three dozen kids, their parents, and caring for a raft of equipment?

“I just have a drive to grow the sport in a healthy manner. I’ve seen too many kids get burnt out or not be able to realize their potential due to the associated costs,” he says. “Those are two things that should never happen in a healthy cycling community like we have in Colorado.”

Allison Moorhead, junior in elite race

Allison Moorhead in a 2014 Colorado elite ‘cross race

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