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Mountain Bike Champion Greg Smith

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“It’s just you and the mountain, you and the trail.”

Ten years after entering his first mountain bike race at Farragut at the age of 15, Greg Smith has reached a level of accomplishment at the age of 26 not shared by many competitors in the sport of mountain bike racing. At the Schweitzer Dirt and Rock Tour in mid July, Greg claimed not one, but two Idaho State Championships and the overall 2002 W.I.M. Series pro racers’ title in the downhill event.

W.I.M., which stands for “Washington-Idaho-Montana,” is a series of mountain bike races held throughout the Northwest promoted by RoundandRound.com.

Those two state championships – one for downhill and the other for downhill/cross country - complement another state title Greg won earlier this year in Nevada and perhaps sets the stage for him to claim a rarely heard of third state championship in Montana later this summer.

Competitive riding has been in his blood for a long time, with its origins stemming from the early days of Team Sports Plus in Sandpoint. Bruce Trejos, owner of the bike shop at Boyer and Pine, says Greg’s interest in racing was part of the impetus for beginning the team back in 1992. It continues to be comprised of local racers mostly out for fun, but some, like Greg, take it seriously. That eventful day at Farragut a decade ago sealed his fate. “I got hooked on mountain bike racing at my first race at Farragut,” he laughed.

Since then he's trained and competed in hundreds of events across the country. His strong suit is downhill racing which utilizes a bike Greg describes as “a motorcycle without the motor.”

His desire to continually improve led him to set his sights on the toughest level of competition and in 1999 he entered the pro ranks of downhill mountain bike racing. “I always knew I wanted to be a top level rider,” Greg said. “I like it because on a steep, rugged course you’re encouraged to go as fast as you can. It’s just you and the mountain, you and the trail. I love that.” It appears to be the perfect love affair for this Sandpoint bike mechanic.

Greg was born in Portland, the third child of Bud and Joyce Smith who now live in Oden Bay. The family moved to North Idaho the year Greg entered junior high. It was during his sophomore year at Sandpoint High School that Greg waltzed into Sports Plus one day when Bruce was still working out of the old Paul Kemp building and announced he’d like to race mountain bikes.

Not only did he want to race, he was interested in every aspect of mountain biking. In August 1992 he went to the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon to study basic bike repair. That training landed him a job at Sports Plus where he's developed a reputation as one of the best bike mechanics in the region.

Following his graduation from high school, Greg went to Salt Lake City to attend the Utah College of Massage Therapy. He became a nationally certified massage therapist – a credential he plans to take advantage of some day – but mountain biking consumed all of his spare time. He got so serious about it he hired Randy Van Ooyen of Sandpoint as his coach for a year. Van Ooyen’s wife was a professional cross country mountain biker.

Greg took up weight training in the winter, engaged in thousands of miles of cross country and road riding to improve his fitness, practiced dirt jumping and skate park riding on his BMX bike, then focused specifically on downhill riding to hone his skills. That effort over the years paid off handsomely once again at the Dirt and Rock tour where he rocked the competition in riding to two decisive Idaho State championships. That success came on the heels of a second place finish that won him $1500 in the Red Bull Rampage in Virgin, Utah last year as well as participation in the first ever extreme mountain bike slope-style competition on snow at Big Mountain in Whitefish, Montana this past spring.

Competing as a professional requires the backing of major sponsors, which Greg has successfully acquired. This year he has been supported by Lenz Sport, Zeal Optics, TruVativ, Posion Spider Bicycles, AXO, Tioga and Marzocchi, and he has had the local support of Bruce Trejos and Team Sports Plus.

The future looks to be full of ruts and dirt and jumps and rocks for Greg Smith, who recently purchased a house in Laclede, which he now calls home.

Still to come this summer is the Montana State mountain bike championships in mid-August and he plans to compete in the Vermilion River Challenge in September.  Then Greg aims to return to Utah for the Red Bull Rampage in October. He’ll be back on the pro circuit again next year competing all over the country, and if the last ten years are any indication, he’ll likely be near or at the top of the competition once again.

Stop by Sports Plus sometime and give Greg a high five for representing his hometown so well. If he’s not there, you know where he’ll be: out there where it’s just him and the mountain, him and the trail. Which is exactly how he likes it best.

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Dennis Nicholls Dennis Nicholls was the founder, publisher, janitor and paperboy of the River Journal from 1993 to 2001. He passed away in 2009.

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mountain biking, Greg Smith

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