From Olympic cyclists and world-class mountain bikers to those who defy gravity on skateboards and dirt bikes, Idaho is full of wheel pioneers.
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6. For Greg Randolph and his daughters, mountain biking is life. And for them, the family that rides together, stays together.
Greg “Chopper” Randolph is a former cycling Olympian, and mountain bike professional. He got his nickname for an epic set of sideburns he sported before facial hair became cool again. And maybe most important of all, Chopper can ride a bike. He also knows how to put on a mountain bike festival as he was a pivotal organizer of last year’s Ride Sun Valley Festival. But one of his greatest joys in life isn’t bringing thousands of people to his beloved community. Nor is it crushing it on one of the Valley’s renowned single-track trails with his buddies, or even reveling in his Olympic and professional days. Instead, what gets Chopper amped and where he gets his bliss is mountain biking with his two daughters, Luma (12) and Lola (8).
“They found it on their own. I’ve never pushed them into mountain biking. I want them to own their passion, whatever that may be,” Randolph says at the dinner table, at their home in East Fork, where most of the conversation has revolved around a pink Scott bike Lola keeps talking about, what Luma’s favorite local ride is and just how old everybody really was when they first learned how to ride. It is so comfortable and normal and fluid, one can forget that most 12-year-olds don’t know how to change a tire tube on their own and most eight-year-olds don’t know bike-manufacturing companies by name.
It’s easy to question where these two girls really found mountain biking, whether they really did find it on their own, especially given their father’s pedigree and their mother’s, Cameron King, career as a World Cup triathlete and X-Terra champion. But once these two sisters get talking about mountain biking, their passion, devotion and absolute love for the sport cannot be denied, however it got started.
Twelve-year-old Luma, who is well-spoken and slightly reserved, is undoubtedly an intense and fantastic competitor. When she tells the story about how she decided to compete at last year’s Nationals, it is clear that she’s the one in the driver’s seat (or in the bike saddle, as it may be). “Last spring, I decided I wanted to compete at Nationals but I knew I had to qualify,” she says with a quiet smile. “So my dad packed me up that weekend and drove me to McCall for a race and I qualified.”
Luma didn’t just qualify. She won her age group and beat all the boys in her age group, placing third overall. She went on to race in Sun Valley at Nationals, placing third, just like she said she wanted to. She’s already planning for her second appearance at Nationals this summer.
Chopper says that mountain biking has given Luma confidence, strength and self-assurance, not just as an athlete but as a person. Plus she regularly rides off four-foot drops and he is the first to admit that it took him half his career to get as good as she is now.
Lola, the animated little sister, gets something else out of riding a bike. According to Chopper, “The challenge of mountain bike riding mellows her out a bit, directs her energy.” Not surprisingly, Lola says that her favorite thing about mountain biking is getting dirty and muddy. Too young to ride at Nationals last year, she spent the summer spinning her wheels at Billy Olsen’s Road and Dirt Kids Mountain Bike Camps in Hailey and competing in the Wednesday night races. But keep your eyes open for a little spitfire on a pink Scott bike racing at this summer’s Nationals Lola is coming to compete.
“It’s a lifetime sport,” Chopper says of his family’s passion. “For me, I’d be a basket case if I couldn’t ride or ski every day but watching Luma and Lola ride is bigger than that. They are learning about being people. If they can see something hard on a mountain bike and can overcome it, it transcends all other challenges that life might bring.” -Katie Matteson