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Stillman Valley racer heads to mountain bike nationals

June 30, 2012 at 07:03 PM

Rockford Register Star

Moriah Griesbach trains alone. She’s motivated and pushes herself in training as well as on race day.

That’s because none of her Stillman Valley High School friends are into mountain biking. In fact, few from the area, even the state, are into it as much as Griesbach.

“It’s definitely difficult to keep that racing mentality all the time, because nobody else I know races. Not like I do,” the straight-A, soon-to-be senior said. “I’ve worked hard at it, most of the time on my own, and now I’m winning races I didn’t even think I could compete in.”

Her next challenge is the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, slated for July 5-8 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Griesbach qualified with a pair of Category 1 Junior-Expert victories in this season’s Wisconsin Off-Road Series, including last weekend in Eau Claire.

“I guess these days, I’m even surprising myself,” she said. “I’ve been able to kind of climb up there and catch some of the faster girls.

“In the first race of the season I passed and beat a girl I’d never beaten before, and then I came in just behind the cyclecross national champion in the next one.”

Griesbach has won five division titles in the WORS series since she started at the age of 9. She comes from a family of mountain-bike racers: Her father, Rick, raced for years and is a driving force for mountain biking in the area. Her mother, Chris, still races and travels to the WORS series races with Moriah nearly every month.

“It’s been fun to watch,” Chris said. “She set her mind to it, and she went after it.”

Even her brother, Will, was a title contender at one time. Her 15-year-old sister, Leah, doesn’t race, but she cheers her on from the sidelines.

But still, when it’s time to gear up and train hard, Moriah is usually riding solo.

“Even in the winter, which around here is tough, she makes herself get all ready and get out there,” Chris said. “Initially, we kind of dragged her along with us. But she’s really owned it for herself in the mountain-biking community. She’s very determined.”

Racing in either the Junior-Expert or the 17-18 Expert divisions for the first time this year, Griesbach has set herself up to make a run at the national title. She has five first-place finishes this season and hopes to have one more when she leaves Idaho.

“I’m definitely excited, and the nerves haven’t really set in yet. I just never thought this would be possible, so I’m still not sure I believe it yet.

“I know I will when I’m sitting at the starting gate next week. I’ll be ready then. Oh, I’ll be ready then.”

Jay Taft: 815-987-1384; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Need to know
What: USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships
Who: More than 1,000 riders qualified
When: Thursday to Sunday
Where: Sun Valley, Idaho

Local racer
Name: Moriah Griesbach
Age: 17
Division: 17-18 Expert
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