For most of the kids in our area, Aug. 26 was a day to hurry up and race to class. Jay Fesperman, a 17-year-old Community School of Davidson senior was racing as well – but he was on a bike, headed down the side of a mountain in South Africa.Jay was selected to represent the United States from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, at the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. This accolade is the latest of many for Fesperman, who has been enjoying the ride.Fesperman, son of Karen and Chip Fesperman, who live in the McConnell neighborhood, began pedaling with his father when he was a kid and quickly developed an affinity for the sport. He met with early success, placing second in first downhill race in Winston-Salem, about five years ago. Since then it’s been full-speed ahead, most notably when he placed first in his age group at the 2010 and 2012 U.S. National Championships.Like any other athletes, Fesperman has also dealt with setbacks. Last month, he qualified first in the USA Cycling 2013 Mountain Bike Gravity Championship in Angel Fire, N.M. However, he broke a chain out of the start gate and later rode through hail. His results were disappointing. “It’s frustrating, when you have issues like that, which are out of your control. But it’s also motivating. It makes me dig harder, and make sure I go into everything really focused,” he said.Fesperman has traveled all over the United States to compete, as well as Scotland and Italy – a trip that almost didn’t happen. He experienced an ankle injury at a race in New Jersey in May and drove himself to the nearest hospital to make sure it wasn’t broken. Luckily it was only a sprain, and he was rehabilitated in time to compete in Europe.Fesperman acknowledges that these experiences have made him not only a stronger rider, but a stronger student and person. “If I have a setback, it’s taught me how to cope with challenges and frustrations, and that relays to school as well,” he said.“Traveling the world and racing puts a pressure on me that’s different from other kids. I have a responsibility not just to myself, but to my sponsors, and that can be stressful. It’s easy to get discouraged, but that’s when I try to take my mind out and remember why I ride a bike – to have fun,” Fesperman said. Fesperman, who rides for Yeti Cycles mountain bike team and practices at Fisher Farm Park in Davidson, the U.S. Whitewater Center in Charlotte, Lake Norman State Park in Troutman and Beech Mountain, was looking forward to South Africa not only for competitive reasons, but to catch up with some of the guys he’s befriended from around the world. “You make buddies with these guys, but you still want to beat them,” he said with a laugh. “But you know you’ll still be friends at the end of the race.”Fesperman said he felt physically and mentally prepared to meet the challenge in South Africa, but no matter the outcome, he aims to keep everything in perspective. “The best part of riding is being free, clearing your mind, and aiming for that perfect run. When things come together, that’s when I’m happiest.”
Friday, Aug. 30, 2013
Teen starts school year at South African bike tournament
Amy Reiss is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Amy? Email her at email@example.com.
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