CYCLING: Local rider Myles Morgan finds success, continues to grow in sport
July 18, 2018
Myles Morgan loves all aspects of biking.
Morgan started cycling at 4 years old and learned his skills on the local trail system, riding with his dad.
"My dad was the one who really got me into riding my bike," said Morgan. "He has always loved riding so he would always want to take me on rides when I was little."
The rides got longer and more technical, and his love for the sport grew. So did his desire to push himself. He joined the Nevada Union Miners High School mountain biking team as a freshman, his first step into the world of cross country racing.
Now, at 17 years old, the Nevada City local is among the top young mountain bikers in California.
"(The team) provided, and still provides, a supportive platform to grow as a rider and become serious about racing," said Morgan.
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After that first year on the team — in which he met many new friends, grew his cycling skills and was introduced to the NICA Northern California High School Mountain Biking League — Morgan launched into what has been an incredible start to his racing career.
His successes grew exponentially, lifting him from top 10 NICA NorCal finishes to multiple first place finishes two years later.
The higher he rose in the rankings, the more daunting the races and competition became. Morgan rode on with a determination fueled by one thing: the challenge itself.
"My competitors drove me to be better, it was as simple as that," he said. "If they beat me in a race or just on one stage, it fueled me to try harder and train harder for the next race."
This work culminated into a 12th place finish in the California High School Mountain Bike Championships in May.
It's not just cross country racing where Morgan has excelled. He discovered an affinity for riding fast, loving to push himself downhill as much as uphill. It was then that he found enduro racing.
A mix of cross country and downhill racing, the sport of enduro combines long, gradual climbs with technical descents to create a lengthy, all-day race. Riders are timed on how fast they can get down the descents — the "stages" of the race. Although they have to ride their bikes back up to the top, unlike in downhill racing where shuttles are offered, enduro riders aren't timed on the climbs; they take their time on the uphill.
"A good enduro race will have you on your bike for upwards of 7 hours with upwards of 45 minutes of flat out, physical race stages that are taxing to the body," said Morgan.
As a strong climber and even faster descender, enduro was the perfect fit for the younger racer.
This year's California Enduro Series has shown Morgan's growth in the sport, with him graduating from Expert level to Junior Pro Men Under-21 division: a category that encompasses some of the fastest under-21-year-old enduro racers in California. As a younger rider, Morgan has already proved himself in the start of this season (enduro seasons last until October, while cross country usually ends in July), finishing in second and seventh for races No. 2 and No. 3 in the Junior Pro Men U21 division.
"I would say my best finish so far was at the Ashland Enduro last year. I had always loved the trails there, and the course was nice and long so I felt confident. I ended up winning in Expert U18 category there," he said, going on to talk about the race itself. "(It's also an incredibly fun race.) There are four stages to race and one of them is upwards of 17 minutes which gives you plenty of time to really get in a flow state, something I really like. It also had a climb to get to the last stage that takes over 2 hours so there was plenty of time to break out the music and food and enjoy the ride. Winning there was just icing on the cake."
Morgan plans to continue this incredible streak for the rest of the season, rounding out the year with a few more enduro races and one more cross country competition, before taking a break after the many long months of racing.
"For 2019 I plan to race the NorCal League High School races, the California Enduro Series, all three of the Lost Sierra Triple Crown events, and hopefully an Enduro World Series race mixed in there," he said.
But for now, Morgan is enjoying a busy summer of racing, riding with friends and gearing up for his senior year of high school.
Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union.