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Clodagh Mellet: Breaking Away

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Clodagh Mellet: Breaking Away

Kara Kneafsey

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Ranked 16th in the Nation last year, and now racing at the pro level, senior Clodagh Mellet is taking Tam High Mountain Biking by storm. Mellet is one of the few girls on the team this year, however, this has not stopped her from placing top three in the state.

Prior to high school, Mellet never anticipated the role mountain biking would play in her life.“I’ve always participated in something active, and freshman year I was a swimmer, and I had been for 11 years, so I was thinking I’m gonna be a swimmer,” she said.

However, Mellet had a shoulder injury and competing in high school swimming was no longer a possibility. Mellett and her parents placed high importance on high school sports, and so it was decided: if Mellet could not swim, she would bike.

“I feel like having that community is really important, and [my parents] felt very strongly about it too, so I started [mountain biking]” At first biking for Mellett was nothing special, however, after her first race her opinion on the sport began to change. “I was doing my first race, and I was like, ‘wow, I really like this.’” Ever since her first race, mountain biking has quickly become a daily aspect of her life. “I ride my bike five to six days a week and when I don’t ride I’m in the gym, or I’ll do double days where I’m on my bike and in the gym.”

Mellett is one of the few girls who participate in the sport. “My first two years on the team there were three girls with like 40 plus guys,” she said. “We were definitely kinda isolated on the team.” As time progressed, however, Mellet noticed the team becoming more inclusive.“There is definitely a lot of effort being put into getting more girls on bikes, so I think the community in the girl’s cycling, is definitely growing and it’s really supportive.”

Throughout her time at Tam, Mellett has transitioned from high school racing to racing on the pro circuit. “My freshman and sophomore year I was just doing high school racing, I would always see these people who were racing high school and on other teams,” she said. By the end of her freshman year, Mellett placed third in the state.

In the first race of her sophomore year, Mellett placed first in JV and won by over six minutes inspiring her to petition her way into the varsity circuit. Her results quickly proved her ability to compete, as she placed 3rd in her first varsity race. “I never expected that. I don’t think anyone expected it,” Mellet said.

Her success on the varsity circuit inspired her. “I was like, yes I can do this, and yes I am doing well, but I kinda want to take it to that next level,” Mellett finished her sophomore year 3rd in state for varsity. “I mean I love to ride my bike but having the results is always something that is motivational,” she said.

By the beginning of her junior year, Mellett began racing on the national level. “The competition was ridiculous. I definitely wasn’t doing as well, but I was still playing.” She finished the year 16th in the nation in the  U17/18 division.

Biking now dominates Mellett’s life, with rides over three hours every day after school. “It’s definitely a balancing act,” Mellett said. She credits her family, friends, and coaches for giving her the help she needed to succeed in biking. “I have so much support from so many people to make it all work.”

Mellett is now racing at the pro level in the US, U-23, which is considered elite internationally. “This year is an entirely different step into racing the best in the world, which is completely insane.”

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Clodagh Mellet: Breaking Away