layton High auto teacher tests skills racing mountain bikes

Thursday , February 13, 2014 - 1:22 PM

Corey Spencer poses for a portrait near the Antelope Island causeway on Tuesday, February 11, 2014....

Dana Rimington, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

LAYTON — Layton High School’s Automotive Teacher Corey Spencer doesn’t spend all his time instructing students about the inner-workings of motor vehicles.

In his spare time, Spencer races mountain bikes.

The 44-year-old used to race motocross; he started in seventh grade. However, by the time he hit age 30, Spencer decided motorcross was too much on his body and opted to not put himself at risk any further.

“I’ve just gotten too old for that. As you get older, your body can’t handle that anymore,” said Spencer, referring to various injuries he’s received over the years.

Spencer said he broke both his legs in the seventh grade, and he cut the top of one of his fingers off during a desert race, and has had a few concussions over the years.

For years, Spencer spent time with his family — wife and two kids —riding four-wheelers or skiing, but he discovered he missed the competition of racing. So Spencer decided to try his hand in the sport of mountain biking racing.

“I thought I would give it a whirl and see how terrible I was at it, but I fell in love with the racing,” said Spencer, though it’s not necessarily injury-free.

“Obviously, I’m going slower than motocross, but I still get injuries,” said Spencer. “I’ve just decided that everybody has a time to go, and you just have to live life in the meantime. I have chosen to live it doing something I enjoy.”

Last year, Spencer competed in 12 races, starting in St. George in early spring then moving northward through the state during the summer and fall. Since Spencer competed in the beginner category, he was up against all ages and skill levels.

“It was somewhat intimidating with only a few racers older than me, and most of them my age or younger,” said Spencer.

Recently, he received first place out of 76 other competitors in his category for overall points in the 2013 Intermountain Cup B for Beginner Men.

Two years ago when Spencer first got started mountain biking, his son joined him for several of the races, but now Spencer’s on his own as his son got busy with school.

The worst race Spencer remembers competing in was last year’s race at Snowbird.

“I really struggled through that race because I was exhausted,” said Spencer, saying mountain biking races are similar to a marathon. “You basically reach a point where you hit a wall, and you just find it too hard to continue. But you keep pushing yourself until you reach the end, and that’s what I had to do at Snowbird.”

Spencer says the sport isn’t for everybody. “It’s a sport that requires you to get used to pain since there is a lot of it during the race,” said Spencer.

Other skills Spencer says are required for the sport are good biking skills — knowing how to take turns properly, having the correct pedal stroke to get the most efficiency, how to sit and position correctly on the bike, how to brake correctly going downhill — as Spencer puts it, “all the basic stuff you have to know so you don’t hurt yourself.”

This year Spencer plans to up the ante by moving up to the next category — Sport. The races he competed in last year were 20 miles or less. In the Sport category, the races will be around 50 miles per race.

“I’m definitely excited, but at the same time, I’m nervous because I don’t want to get creamed out there,” said Spencer. “They are longer races, but they are definitely a step up in skill with faster, stronger riders.”

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