By: Miriam Bretzlaff
Hello, my name is Miriam Bretzlaff. I’m a 13 year old racer from Highland, Michigan attending Charyl Stockwell Academy Middle School in the 8th grade. I’ve been riding my bike ever since I ditched the training wheels but my first race was the MiSCA series 7 years ago and I’ve been at it since. I have hopped between a couple different teams throughout my riding career but my current MiSCA team is Orange Krush and this will be my third year racing with them. I’ve worked my way up categories over the years and in the 2022 season I won advanced middle school as overall champion. This year I am hoping to race varsity but JV is also an option I am considering. I have also done several other in-state races in the past such as Barry Roubaix, Ore To Shore, Iceman, and Peak2Peak.
This will be my first year racing for the Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD) and I am very eager for the upcoming season. I joined the team because I want to achieve my long term goals and improve as an athlete. I also believe TAMJD has a great support system and I have found many friendships on the team. One of the things I am most excited for is the opportunity to race out of state with a team racing with me, as well as the many gravel races I will get the chance to participate in. Another thing I am very excited for is the team’s annual trip to training camp in Brevard, North Carolina. The trails all over North Carolina have become a desired location for me and I just love riding out there with my friends and family.
Some of my other favorite places to ride are local trails such as Milford trail, Highland rec., and Settlers Park. I also love to visit places all over northeast Arkansas such as trails in Fayetteville, Bentonville, and Bella Vista. One of the local group rides that I especially like attending is the MiSCA sponsored BRAVE ride. BRAVE is an organization of female riders that meet up a few times a month to get to know each other, push each other, and overall just have a good time out in the woods.
My favorite race/race weekend is probably Ore To Shore. The trip up north is always a great time and one of the things I most like about this venue is the constant change in scenery. For example, the trail can change from single track to two track to gravel to road and right back to single track in the span of a couple miles! It’s a race that requires all kinds of skills.
If I end up racing varsity this season as a freshman I will be competing against lots of girls older than me and who possibly obtained more riding experience. Knowing this, my goal for MiSCA is to finish every race and make it on the podium at least once. Some of my other goals non-related to MiSCA are keeping up with my training plan and balancing efforts and rest without overdoing one or the other.
A new thing I’ll be trying this year is out of state racing and I very much look forward to it. I would also like to dedicate more time to gravel rides and racing. I really look forward to challenging myself with the long hills associated with gravel and road even though climbing hasn’t always been my strong suit. I believe becoming associated with other forms of cycling other than just mountain biking will really help me as a racer and teach me skills that I will carry with me throughout my career. This winter I will be trying out for my school’s basketball team. I hope that this is also a beneficial form of cross training and a fun way to spend the offseason.
Sometimes I’m racing against friends and teammates while other times I’m racing against total strangers or old adversaries. One thing that I have learned to remember about racing anyone is to stay sportsmanlike before the race, competitive during them, and friendly after. Another thing that I have learned while racing is that no two riders are the same. My strengths and weaknesses will not always match up while closely racing someone and it can be very hard to beat a racer with a different skill range than I have depending on the course.
I love cycling because of the community I get to be involved in and the chances I have because of it. I am so grateful for everything that cycling has given me, especially the opportunity to be a part of TAMJD and its amazing support system!