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Prep Spotlight: Durango High School’s Maddie Jo Robbins on the go for mountain bike gold

Durango mountain biker sweeps high school mountain bike season en route to state title

Madeline “Maddie Jo” Robbins doesn’t like down time. She is a girl on the go, and when she goes, she goes faster than any of her peers.

Robbins, a sophomore at Durango High School, won all five varsity girls races during the Colorado Cycling League season. That included Sunday’s state championship race in Eagle, when Robbins claimed the state title in the three-lap race in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 54.57 seconds. She finished ahead of second-place junior Petra Schmidtmann of Nederland, who crossed in 1:21:42.32. Golden junior Madelynn Gerritsen was third in 1:21:50.21.

“I knew I’d have at least one person as competition, which is new for me because most of my races have small fields,” Robbins said. “At the end of the first lap, there were three of us together, and then by the second lap, there were four of us in the lead group. We stayed together the entire race until the final lap. Halfway through, I made a breakaway and nobody came with me.”

Nobody came close to Robbins’ time of 27:13 in the final lap. Schmidtmann turned in a lap of 28:02 to fall nearly a minute off of Robbins’ pace.

Robbins, daughter of Denise and Jeffery Robbins, also helped lead the DHS mountain bike team to a state championship to go along with her individual title. With a close-knit team that knows how to have fun, she said winning the team title felt even better than her individual award.

“You get to share it with a lot more people,” she said. “If you had a bad race, the others can always come back and give the points to the team to win.”

Robbins never had a bad race in 2017. In winning all five races of the high school cycling calendar, Robbins also knew she needed a bit of luck to go along with her skill to avoid any mechanical problems such as flat tires, broken derailleurs or a broken chain.

“I feel very fortunate,” she said. “If you have one (mechanical), it ruins your whole race. To go five races without anything happening is pretty lucky.”

While Robbins’ fall season was full of mountain bike wins, she’s been even busier on the trails as a cross-country runner for the powerhouse Durango High School team. She has a personal best 5-kilometer time of 20:24.

Some weekends, Robbins would run with the DHS cross-country team on a Saturday and then drive to another town to join her mountain bike teammates for a Sunday race. She views cross-country as a good way to cross-train for cycling, and she stays busy all summer in USA Cycling events across the region.

“It makes for a long weekends, and it’s really hard,” Robbins said of competing in two tough endurance sports in one weekend. “I’m definitely very tired by the time I’m done with a race.”

Robbins also is an Alpine ski racer in the winter. She isn’t going to compete on skis as much this winter but still plans to participate on the DHS team.

“I don’t like to have a lot of downtime,” she said. “It’s nice to have competition and something to work for and work up to so I can keep my goals.”

As a freshman in 2016, Robbins also claimed third place in the varsity girls mountain bike state championship race behind Salida’s Harper Powell and Durango’s Katja Freeburn, who competed for the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy. Freeburn is now a top women’s endurance rider for Fort Lewis College and won a national championship with the Skyhawks last weekend while Robbins won her state title. Another FLC freshman rider, Camryn Sippy, was fourth in the race in 2016 behind Robbins.

Robbins said she hopes to compete in college. She is already on the Trek Bear Development Team and has goals of becoming a professional mountain biker just like her favorite athlete and fellow Durango High School alum, Howard Grotts.

But perhaps Robbins’ passion for mountain biking would have never developed if it weren’t for an injury to her brother, Lucas.

“I actually didn’t really like biking when I was little,” she said. “My brother broke his arm, and he was going to race. They gave me his spot instead and I raced. He was also racing at nationals, and since I was there, I just raced. From there, I fell in love with it.”

jlivingston@durangoherald.com

Behind the scenes

Do you have a nickname?: Maddie Jo

Who is your favorite athlete?: Definitely Howard Grotts. I got his bike a few years ago. That was the main thing that made me want to race hard.

What was your first bike?: I had a 20-inch when I was 5. I don’t even know what brand it was. It was pretty tiny.

Where is your favorite place to ride your bike?: The Test Tracks area (Overend Mountain Park). Star Wars and Hidden Valley.

What is your favorite course to ride during the Colorado Cycling League season?: Eagle

If you could take a vacation anywhere to celebrate your state title, where would you go?: New Zealand

If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?: To teleport

What would be your dream first car?: A Jeep

What teacher has had a great impact on your life?: Mr. (Matthew) Rapoport. He teaches social studies at Miller Middle School. He also likes biking, and I spent a lot of time with him talking about biking.

Nov 30, 2021
Durango Herald Girls Athlete of the Year: Durango’s Maddie Jo Robbins
Nov 30, 2021
Durango High mountain bike team wins Colorado Cycling League state championship
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