K. Bone, contributing teen writer

 

 

In recent years, mountain biking has become a booming sport, especially popular among high school students. Utah currently boasts the largest high school mountain biking league in the nation, and Cache Valley’s 14-year-old Tenzing Roper from Logan is a rising star in the sport. Named after the world-class mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, Tenzing is on his way to living up to his name’s sake.

Being well-rounded, Tenzing enjoys triathlons, dance, musical theater, basketball, and skiing. But don’t get it wrong, mountain biking is his main focus. He loves the challenge of training on steep inclines and the rigorous and technical aspects of the sport.

“Mountain Biking is definitely what I’m passionate about,” Tenzing said. “I love the feeling of accomplishment once you get to the top.”

One of his coaches, Teresa Parker, says the sport is in Tenzing’s blood. Tenzing’s father and grandfather (Spence Roper and Kent Roper) both enjoy racing and mountain biking, and Tenzing says his grandfather recently started mountain biking so he could spend more time with him. “It would be more fun if we were in the same group,” Tenzing jokes, but usually Tenzing is speeding up the mountain.

His father’s influence also helped rope Tenzing into the sport. “If it [cycling] wasn’t in the family, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” he said. “My dad was a die-hard road bike racer. He podiumed in LoToJa.”

Like his father, Tenzing is on his way to becoming a decorated racer. In his first race, he started in 88th place before ultimately finishing in ninth. Then, in his next race, he finished in first place, 30 seconds before the second-place finisher. Tenzing was going to compete in the prestigious LoToJa race this year, but a mountain bike race was scheduled for the same time, and the mountain is where he wants to be.

Not only does Tenzing love the adrenaline rush of mountain biking, but he says the outdoors make it significantly better. “I’ve always thought of myself as an outdoorsy person,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever summit Mt. Everest (referring to his namesake), but I try to do things Tenzing Norgay would be proud of.”

He says he enjoys the feeling of solitude in the outdoors and has always enjoyed spending time outside with his parents and four siblings. Tenzing enjoys it all: backpacking, hiking, fishing, or anything outdoors.

As cliché as it sounds, Tenzing says his success has come from his hard work and dedication. “Mountain biking takes a lot of dedication,” he said. “You can’t just get up and do it one day. Good coaching is great for motivation to keep you going, but moving between rocks and some other technical aspects come from experience.”

When asked about the sport’s growth, he says he believes it started around COVID when people realized the outdoors was a thing. “It was a wake up call,” he said. “And it’s a fun sport to watch, so naturally, people thought it would be a fun sport to participate in.”

Tenzing looks forward to being part of the growing number of local high school mountain bikers who are mentally and physically tough and compete in races throughout Utah. For Tenzing, it allows him to not only embrace the sport, but to enjoy the outdoors — his favorite place.