GJ graduate thrives in the cycling world

By KENT MINCER

Three years ago, when Jon Vivolo began racing for the Colorado State University men’s cycling team, he was just looking for a sport in which to participate.

“I never dreamt I’d be up there,” Vivolo said.

‘Up there’ these days is at the top of his class.

Two weeks ago, the 2005 Grand Junction High School graduate became the top Category 1 mountain bike racer in the country when he won the cross country event at the USA National Mountain Bike Championships.

He paid a price for it, however. The next day, racing in the super-downhill, Vivolo took a spill, separating his right shoulder. That will put him on the shelf for a few weeks.

“(I got) some serious road rash,” he said.

He realizes it could have been worse.

Biking has been a part of Vivolo’s life since he can remember. While he was in high school, he gravitated more to mountain biking than other sports.

“It suits my personality,” he said.

It suits him so well that, unlike many other athletes, he incorporates his sport into his daily life. Rather than drive his car to the store or the bank, Vivolo rides his bike.

He even rides his road bike to his summer job as a raft guide on the Cache la Poudre River, a 15-mile commute one way from where he lives in Fort Collins.

“That’s part of my passion for cycling,” he said.

The national championships were conducted at SolVista Basin ski area outside of Granby, giving Vivolo a near home-course advantage.

“It was one of the more technical courses we’d seen this year,” he said.

That actually worked in his favor.

“I really enjoy the technical stuff,” he said. “(The course) was pretty beneficial for me.”

That he won the cross country race by an impressive seven minutes backs that up.

Vivolo has moved up the ranks quickly during his three years of racing. He won the past three Mountain State Cup Series.

Having earned enough points to compete professionally in the super-D division, his victory this month allows him to turn pro in the cross country division.

He wants to spend next year racing professionally in both divisions.

“I (already) race with all the same guys who are (pros),” Vivolo said.

He was in third place in the super-D race when he crashed only 200 yards from the finish line.

Although he knows he can race with them, “There’s definitely a big difference in competition,” he said of moving from the amateur to the pro level.

His shoulder injury gave him an opportunity he might have missed otherwise. Vivolo hopes to apply to medical school after he graduates from CSU, so he’s spending plenty of time with doctors.

“I can talk to the doctors,” said Vivolo, who has one more semester to complete his undergraduate degree. “I’m always interested in their diagnosis.”

In the meantime, he’s been spending some time riding a stationary bike, trying to maintain some semblance of conditioning. The prognosis is that he can return to training in six weeks.

“Fitness is something you can definitely lose quickly, and it’s hard to gain (back),” he said.

For someone who all but lives on bicycle, not being able to ride is the most difficult pill to swallow.


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