For more than a dozen years, the Arizona Devo Team has been promoting positive changes in the lives of young people through mountain bike racing opportunities. We caught up with Travis Woodruff, the organization’s owner and one of its three coaches, about how the team provides resources to Arizona’s up-and-coming racers so that they have the opportunity to fully pursue their goals on and off the bike. Respect, hard work, and team camaraderie are very much at the core of what Arizona Devo does.
At Stan's, we believe real support means more than just standing behind our products. It means supporting the people who use those products and the trails and causes that matter to them. Each time a customer registers a Stan's wheelset to receive warranty and crash replacement coverage, we donate $10 to that customer's choice of cycling-related cause, advocacy, or trail maintenance group. The Arizona Devo Team is one of many organizations benefiting from our Stan’s Connection Program.
Stan’s No Tubes: Tell us about the Arizona Devo Team.
Travis Woodruff: We’re a mountain bike racing team that focuses on junior and under-23 rider development. We support our riders at local Arizona races as well as at events beyond Arizona. Our riders are seeking more racing experience and are motivated to take their racing beyond the Arizona Cycling Association (ACA), which is Arizona's high school cycling league, now in its 10th year. In addition to racing support, we provide each athlete with coaching and host training camps. We try to create fun learning opportunities for riders to grow within the sport.
SNT: How old are most of your riders?
TW: During our application process, we consider anyone from ages 15 to 22. Each year, the team’s composition is a little different, but our goal is to help young riders transition successfully into collegiate cycling, pro racing, or just to figure out how bikes can fit into a healthy and balanced lifestyle for the long haul.
SNT: What area does Arizona Devo serve?
TW: Our riders are from across the state. Anyone who calls Arizona their home base is eligible to apply.
SNT: What are the team’s goals?
TW: We have three goals:
- Process. We guide riders as they learn how to train and be an athlete. We emphasize what that process looks like.
- Nurture. We’re all about having a healthy perspective and focusing on finding balance. Nothing happens in a vacuum, in life or with cycling. Keeping things fun and taking it all in stride is important. We prioritize the long term.
- Progression. This doesn’t mean winning necessarily, but setting a goal and working toward it. This looks different for each rider, but it’s the common goal of making progress that brings the team together.
SNT: How do you get your riders to accomplish those goals?
TW: We operate a two-fold approach with our programming. First are our in-person riding and racing opportunities. At each race venue, we train together on the course, and at our training camps, we provide a similar chance to receive instruction and rider feedback in real time. Riding together provides each rider the opportunity to learn from their peers, too.
We also offer day-to-day individualized coaching for all of our riders. Having a coach available for questions helps our riders gain understanding as they learn how to train to be their best. There are three of us on the coaching front who help look after the crew.
SNT: Who are the other coaches?
TW: Brian Matter & Erin Osborne. Together we’ve got over 40 years of coaching experience. Brian has decades of experience racing at the highest levels, and Erin also knows what it takes to excel with the best. We’ve seen the highs and lows for dozens of athletes over the years, so we’re able to prepare our riders for what they might experience in their own journeys.
SNT: What’s a typical season look like?
TW: Our season focuses on the months of January through July. In Arizona, it’s possible to ride or race year-round, so it’s especially important for riders to prioritize certain times of the year for recovery and to have a break from the training or racing. Taking a break after the U.S. Mountain Bike Nationals works well because most riders also do the high school league races through the ACA during the fall. That’s such a great opportunity for them to participate in cycling as a school sport, which is a very different dynamic. They get to ride with different teammates and share in unique social opportunities, so we encourage our riders to fully participate with their high school’s programming.
We strategically plan our team rides and our training camps to prepare for the race calendar. We do support for the team at all the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA) races in Arizona as well as big races like the UCI race at Soldier Hollow and the Whiskey Off-Road, and then we go to U.S. National Championships in July. This year, they were at Winter Park, Colorado.
SNT: How and when did your organization get started?
TW: I took ownership of Arizona Devo in 2014, which was the program’s fourth year. Our goal of providing support to Arizona’s up-and-coming mountain bike athletes has remained the same, but our programming has improved a little each year.
SNT: Any significant achievements of Arizona Devo that you’d like to highlight?
TW: We’ve had riders podium at mountain bike nationals and go on to participate in other events with the U.S. National Team. That’s always pretty special when our support can help a rider earn additional support beyond what we can provide.
Seeing our riders graduate onto collegiate programs or other pro teams is neat. It’s fun to see what they do in cycling, in academics or whatever they take on in life.
SNT: Sounds like a fantastic opportunity for young riders. How could someone who’s interested apply?
TW: Each year, we do an application process in October. We ask applicants to reflect on their goals, what they want to accomplish, and how they see themselves within the team dynamic. The application is the first step, and all returning riders have to reapply each year. From the pool of candidates, we select the next season’s team.
SNT: Do you have any new future programs or initiatives in the works?
TW: We’re constantly refining the process and improving our program. We’ve kept the focus on trying to do the best for our athletes in helping them learn to do what it takes to make the next step. It’s different for each rider, and the process changes a little bit each year. We strive to keep a fun and healthy team atmosphere in which riders are rewarded for going after their goals.
SNT: Besides participating in Stan’s Connections Program, what can people do to help support your team?
TW: Simply say “hi,” and encourage our team at the races! It’s cool to see young people taking on riding and racing. We can all contribute to their efforts in different capacities, and with the team, it’s fun to engage numerous people in unique ways. Give us a follow on social media, too.
SNT: Anything else you want to add?
TW: I’d like to thank Stan’s for the opportunity to be showcased in this program. We’re grateful for all the support from all our team riders’ families. It’s incredible what parents will do for their kids. Everyone contributes in different ways, and it makes it a really fun environment for our events. We also appreciate all of our sponsors and the race promoters.