Howard Grotts (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Development Team) has been the revelation of the junior mountain bike racing scene in the United States this season. Grotts recently won the junior 17-18 men's cross country national championship in Sun Valley, Idaho.
He also won the junior World Cup in Windham, New York, although he had to sit out the previous North American World Cup round in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada, after his passport arrived one day too late.
Cyclingnews spoke with him at the US Pro XCT finals in Missoula, Montana, where he beat all of his elders by winning the Cat. 1 cross country race.
Grotts, 18, is in his final year as a junior. He lives in Durango, Colorado, and got into mountain biking when his five and a half year older brother picked the sport in middle school.
"He stopped in high school, but I stuck with it and it's taken me far," said Howard Grotts.
"I pretty much do all mountain biking and I am going to stay with it. I hope to do some U23 camps in Europe."
Grotts explained why he has been successful this year. "Unlike last season, I'm doing more structured training. I'm still enjoying being on the bike and riding as much as possible." He also credited his team for the extra support.
When asked why so many fast riders are coming out of Durango, Grotts said, "I think I can attribute it to Durango Devo program. It started with seven riders and now it has over 220 kids in it. All kinds of riders are enjoying being on their bike. They are funneling through the pipeline and becoming fast as they do so."
Next up for the young rider is the mountain bike Worlds in Switzerland. "At the end of August, I'll be in Champery for the world championships. That will be a good experience," he said. "Next year, I'll start as a U23 and race some races with the pros. I'm going to keep riding and keep having fun."