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God Made Dirt

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And no one rides it better than Team Sports Plus

There’s a lot of stuff on the walls at Sports Plus in Sandpoint, but while standing at the counter talking with owner Bruce Trejos the other day, a small poster that reached out and grabbed my attention reads, “God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt.”

    I remember mom telling me, “It doesn’t hurt to get dirty,” but I’m not so sure that’s the correct interpretation of this poster. With the kind of sports promoted by Bruce and his eleven year old business, getting dirty is just part of the fun. If you ride a mountain bike, hike, camp, or just plain spend any time outdoors, you’ll encounter dirt and you’ll get used to it, and maybe even come to love it like the dozens of people who have joined Bruce over the years as part of Team Sports Plus.

    These guys and girls are mountain biking fanatics, and if you ride long and hard enough, sooner or later you’ll hit the dirt. And like all these other riders, you’ll get up, get back on the bike and keep going.

    That kind of attitude has been a hallmark of Sports Plus riders all along. When Bruce set up his bike shop in the old Kemp’s Building where today’s Texaco station now sits on the south edge of Sandpoint, he was providing bikes and maintenance to Sandpoint Recreational Rentals. But he also had a couple of guys come in one day expressing an interest in racing their bikes, and the team was born.

    “Greg Smith and Wes Warren were a couple of local kids who were getting into racing their bikes,” Bruce recalled, “so with those two guys we got started and it has picked up from there.” That was in 1991.

    Today Team Sports Plus is one of the most consistently dominant mountain bike racing teams in the Pacific Northwest. That was borne out as a fact this summer when this year’s group of ten riders won every WIM Series team race they competed in. This was the first year points were tallied for teams in the Washington-Idaho-Montana Series, and Team Sports Plus ran away with the best record of them all.

    Winning on an individual basis has been a tradition for Bruce’s teams, as well. For instance, in 1997 Sports Plus riders stepped up to the top five podium 177 times, with two thirds of those occasions being for first or second place finishes.

    The secret to the teams’ successes over the years, Bruce claims, has been the simple fact that team members have all come from the local area – Bonner County. “The team has always been comprised of local people,” Bruce said. “It’s a group of riders who rode together and became a team.” And they have not been afraid to work hard, train hard, and ride hard season after season. That training has included such exercises as bike frisbee and bike tag, which helps each rider “learn a whole new batch of skills.”

    From Greg Smith, who is now a professional downhiller, to Tom Sain who was once an Olympic caliber rider according to Bruce, to the newest rising star, Jamey Yanik, Team Sports Plus has boasted some of the most talented riders in the business. Yet, though they take their mountain biking seriously, the main ingredient has been the thrill of it. “It’s pure fun,” Bruce exclaimed. “I just love it and I love getting people doing it.”

    He has proven to be quite successful at that, as witnessed by the range of ages on this year’s team. Of the ten team members, five of them are in their 40s, one is 55, another is 25 and two are teenagers. “This is the oldest team I’ve ever had,” said Bruce, who is himself in his 40s.

    Bruce found the competition this year to be excellent, that it would change from race to race and that close finishes separated by just a matter of seconds were common. But with each new challenge on the mountain bike course, Team Sports Plus was always on hand to answer it. “Team Sports Plus holds more records in the region than any other,” Bruce noted. “It’s not what we say we’re going to do; it’s what we actually do. We’ve dominated races in the region for ages.”

    And that’s not bragging. The awards and medals and stories about his team’s successes bear out the truth of the matter. But what are really behind the successes of Sports Plus teams have been the attitudes and personalities of the racers. “The team has always been a group who hang together and have fun together. They are excellent people with wonderful attitudes and good hearts,” Bruce said. “They’re just a group of people having fun and our friendships are huge. The hook is the people, not getting on the podium.”

    Yet, getting on the podium they have done race after race, and when Bruce gets asked, “Where to you get such versatile riders?” he answers, “I walk out the back door.”

    Though the race season is over with, the team still meets and trains, and there is no shortage of events and festivals in which to participate well into the winter. Take, for instance, the 14th Annual Methow Valley MTB Festival October 5-7 at Winthrop, WA:  Bruce calls this three-day festival a great event and anticipates Team Sports Plus will be there. “We continue to train together, clinic together,” he said.

    The reason is because that’s life for the guys and girls of Team Sports Plus. “Life isn’t about 9 to 5,” Bruce stated. “Life is what you do every minute; being on the lake, being on the hill, being outside. It’s who you are.”

    For this group of mountain bikers, who they are is a bunch of people that appreciate dirt and who ride it better than anyone else around.

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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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