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Easy rider

Placer High grad ‘stumbled’ into mountain bike racing but now pursues the sport professionally
By: Todd Mordhorst, Journal Sports Editor
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Jordan Lopez is thankful his father didn’t keep his bike locked up back when he was living at home. If he had, Lopez may have never discovered his unique ability that’s turned into a professional endeavor. Back at Placer High, Lopez spent much of his time focusing on baseball. That is, until his dad Roger got a mountain bike. “He got too old to run anymore so he got a mountain bike and I would poach it from him,” Lopez explained. “I really stumbled into (mountain biking) and I found I had an ability to go downhill, really fast.” After progressing to the expert level within a few years, Lopez began racing professionally in 2009. He’ll race for the Northstar/Giant Mountain Biking Team this year and recently landed a sponsorship from one of the biggest names in racing – Fox Racing, Inc. Lopez plans to race on the USA Cycling National Gravity series this summer. The 25-year-old, who now lives in Lincoln, has a true appreciation for his progression in the sport. “I work full-time and I’m married with a wonderful wife who supports all of my hobbies,” Lopez said. “At the level I’ve gotten to, to have sponsors, it’s a prize for me.” Greg Lenac, the marketing manager for Fox clothing, met Lopez at a race last year and was impressed right away. “I’ve noticed Jordan over the last few years and really liked and admired his attitude,” Lenac said. “He’s a great rider, but above and beyond his riding he has a very good, professional attitude and that’s hard to find. It’s something I keep my eye out for when I’m out at races.” Lopez finds time to train on the trails in the American River Canyon, usually after working eight hours a day as a territory manager for Capital Builders Hardware. He’s usually on his bike at least four times a week, climbing hills to build endurance and careening down singletrack to hone his skills. Lopez will soon be getting a plush ride for all his hard work. His new 2010 Giant Glory, complete with eight inches of travel front and back, should arrive later this month. Fox is providing him with clothing and gear, along with a major feather in his cap. “It’s a huge opportunity,” Lopez said. “There are only 10 people in the country sponsored by Fox Factory.” Lopez suffered a separated shoulder last June, missing more than two months over the summer, but he still ended the 2009 season ranked third in California in Super-D in the pro category. He was also tied for eighth in the Downhill rankings. Those results, along with some networking, helped him land his sponsorships. “I had some good results last year and I was making the right connections,” Lopez said. “The bicycle industry is pretty small, so a good word from the right person will go a long way.” While many sponsors target young athletes and those who attract attention to themselves, Lenac was thrilled to find an average working guy, who happened to be a phenomenal rider. “He maintains a full-time job, but he takes his racing and his riding really seriously and puts in as much time as he can,” Lenac said. “I can’t say enough about his attitude.”