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Utah mountain bikers invited to ‘Ride for Cal’ to support youth battling brain cancer


Utah’s mountain bike community is invited to “Ride for Cal,” a fundraiser to support an accomplished teen rider battling brain cancer.

In the 2023 season, mountain bike racer Calvin Smith was at the top of the podium. This season, he’s battling brain cancer. 

The 17-year-old from Skyridge High School was first diagnosed when he was 9 and has survived five brain surgeries in between. Now the tumor is not only inoperable but it has also paralyzed the right side of his body. 

Team Cal

Cal may no longer be winning races but his uncontained spirit is still soaring. And to keep him on the trail, his high school teammates are rallying to raise $21,000 to purchase a Cal an adaptive mountain bike. 

Mountain bikers of all abilities are invited to participate in “Ride for Cal” on Wednesday, May 29 between noon and midnight at the Rock City trailhead at Eagle Mountain. The team will collect donations for miles ridden and Team Cal jerseys are also being sold. Details are atTeamCal.org.

 Jason Taylor is the head coach of Skyridge’s mountain bike team and has coached Cal for six years. He said Cal is an exceptionally gifted athlete but it wasn’t just about winning for him; he’s that guy who is everyone’s friend and always works to elevate others to his level. 

Cal finished last season as Skyridge’s fastest rider in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s JVA division while undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Taylor said there were times Cal raced with an excruciating headache and threw up at the finish line. He won some of those races, and he was hard on himself when he didn't. “And I had to remind him, ‘You're racing against a lot of other athletes your age who are not poisoning their body while trying to compete at the highest level.’”

Taylor said he shares that story because it explains Cal’s character.

Team Cal

 “He understands that he has a battle he’s going through that others don't, but it's not something that he uses as a scapegoat or an out to push himself to the same level as he feels like others are," he said. "And he wants to represent his team and his friends the best that he can, regardless of the challenges that are in front of him.”

Alex Charles is the team captain of the Wasatch High School mountain bike team. She’s one of Cal’s many friends and admires the many miles he clocked on GPS tracking app Strava. She said the NICA community is something special.

“It's a really good community because we all just come together to race and have fun. And we all have this thing in common: we just like to ride bikes," she said. "And so, it’s going to be a really cool event. I’m going to be riding and I’m trying to get a lot of other people to come, too.” 

And it's through really cool events like this that remind us there are times to compete and there are times to rally together to support our competition.

Team Cal