When did you start cycling competitively? For me it was at the ripe old age of 30 and as I staged alongside junior’s like Coryn Rivera when we were both Cat 3’s, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have started sooner.
Meet Madelaine and McKenzie Melcher, ages 16 and 17 respectively. These sophomore and senior siblings are putting themselves on the map regionally and nationally in three disciplines of the sport: road, cyclo-cross and cross-country mountain biking. Since they started racing in 2011, they have completed more than 30 races from the SoCal region to Idaho and Monteray.
Here’s what’s so special about these talented youth: Madelaine was a Level 8 gymnast who began cycling last year due to consecutive ankle injuries. Last month, she podiumed (3rd) at Sea Otter in the Women’s Cat 3-4 circuit race. She is also the State Cyclo-Cross Champion in the women’s B division. She’s also a Cheerleader at Redlands East Valley H.S. – quite the combo.
In 2011, her sister McKenzie placed second as a Cat 3 mountain biker at Junior Nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho. McKenzie was a tournament softball player for half her life, also lettering in band, before diving into the sport.
This type of talent can be groomed into the next Georgia Gould and Katie Comptons’ of the world and is happening for these two. While we’re dropping names, when asked who the girls look up to, they both answered Dorothy Wong and their parent, in particular, their mom Stacey Melcher who also use to race. Maddy also mentioned local mentor Colleen Friis and McKenzie plugged Catharine Pendrel.
This talent doesn’t happen on its own, and first year team RICO (Redlands Interscholastic Cycling Organization) has had a lot to do with developing these young racers. In fact, out of 28 teams in the southern California region, RICO’s women’s team placed 3rd. “The coaches are phenomenal and make cycling a fun group experience” says McKenzie, who will attend San Diego State University next fall and hopes to continue racing on their collegiate squad.
McKenzie has gained tremendous confidence through cycling and believes that all disciplines of the sport transfer into one another. She sees cycling as playing a role in shaping her into the person she’s becoming and hopes to get more women and girls involved in the sport. She’s also ready to explore Downhill and Super-D. Maddie appreciates the support from the boys on the RICO team and intends to go as far as she can while having fun. Her advice is to, “Never give up. You think it’s so hard, but it’s really not. It’s all in your head. Don’t let guys tell you you’re bad or be intimidated by them because you could be just as good if not better.”
Add these two to your list of up and comers and watch for them on the SoCal circuit.