By Joel Bretzlaff:
Hello, my name is Joel Bretzlaff, and I am 15 years old. I’m from Highland, Michigan, and I am a Sophomore attending school at Charyl Stockwell High School. I have been cycling for 10 years. Right around the time I was born, my dad started mountain biking with some of his coworkers, and as soon as I was able, he got me out onto the trails.
A few years later, I rode in my first race through MiSCA, and I have been racing MiSCA ever since. This season, I will be racing in the Varsity category for the Orange Krush Junior Race Team, and I’m aiming to attain a podium finish at least once, and achieve a top-10 finish at all 6 MiSCA races. MiSCA is a huge part of my life, and I love that I am able to be a role model for younger racers in the MiSCA organization.
I am entering my second season as a member of Team Athletic Mentors. Last year, I joined the team for a multitude of reasons. TAM has allowed me to ride and race with other young cyclists that share my passion for the competitive aspect of cycling. It has also enabled me to build connections in the cycling community and gain access to resources that help to boost my cycling career.
This season, I have the opportunity to race USA Cycling mountain bike nationals in Winter Park, CO. I am looking to represent Michigan and my goal is to place within the top 10 for 15 year olds. The biggest challenge will be the altitude, as the race course is over 9,000 feet above sea level. I have never ridden at a major altitude before, so it will be difficult not knowing how my body will handle those conditions.
While I am a mountain biker first, last season, I rode and raced on the gravel for the first time. I find it is a great way to train, and I enjoy gravel adventure rides. My first gravel race was the Dirty 30 50 miler, where I learned the value of sticking with a group, which I didn’t do very well at that race. Later into the season, at the Waterloo Grit and Gravel and the Cowpie Classic, I rode much more complete, tactical races, and I experienced better results than at the Dirty 30. I look forward to racing a handful of gravel races this season, including Barry-Roubaix, where I will be racing in the 18 mile team competition along with my Junior Development teammates.
Another major aspect of my cycling life is my part time job at Cycletherapy Bicycles in Waterford. This position has allowed me to be involved within the bicycle industry, and explore other possible career paths relating to cycling. I have also been learning many things about bicycle repair, which is a crucial facet of any cyclist’s performance. One of the best parts of my job is meeting cyclists of all types from the area and seeing my friends that come in the shop.
In addition to cycling, I am also working towards attaining my Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts. I have enjoyed partaking in Scouts over the years, and I recently completed my Eagle Scout project, where I put in a fire pit, woodshed, and benches at my church.
I have been putting in the hours on the trainer this winter, and I cannot wait to suit up in my race kit once again at the end of March. Outdoor riding is more appealing with every trainer ride I complete, and I am wrapping up the winter service/ upgrading of my mountain bike. Cycling is my passion, and I look forward to making great strides in my cycling career during the 2022 season!