Mallory and Molly Otto, both 18, were new to mountain biking last year when the Carson City Off-Road came to town.
“We decided to just try it out,” Molly said. “We did the 15-mile course, and it was a struggle for us. Mal and I like to downhill, and this had a lot of uphill.”
As high school athletes — playing soccer at Carson High School all four years, three at the varsity level — the girls said mountain biking brings its own set of endurance requirements.
“Even though we were in shape, it’s a different kind of shape,” Mallory said. “You don’t normally use your legs going in circles and circles. Truthfully, we had to walk parts of it.”
Now, with an additional year of experience under their handlebars, the girls are much more confident going into this year’s Carson City Off-Road on June 16-18. The race, sponsored by Epic Rides, offers 15-, 35- and 50-mile courses.
While relatively new to mountain biking, the Ottos have a strong cycling background. The twins were 5 years old the first time they visited a BMX track.
“That first day was so hard,” Molly recalled. “We couldn’t even get up that first hill.”
They solved that problem with the same approach they’ve taken to mountain biking.
“We just kept going and going,” Mallory said.
The two competed regularly and were likely to become pros when they were faced with a decision between BMX and playing soccer. With their final soccer season over, they’re now free to spend more time cycling when not in school or at work.
And they know they always have a riding buddy — and photographer.
“You always have a friend,” Mallory said. “And if we want to just mess around, she’ll be the picture taker and I’ll ride. Then we’ll switch.”
This year’s unusually wet winter and spring, along with early nights, hasn’t deterred them.
“It’s still fun to ride in the rain,” Mallory explained. “One of the funnest parts is bringing lights, and you just ride like a regular day.”
The weather has influenced the race itself, however. Because the trails in the higher elevation are still covered in snow, the course has been altered to become varying numbers of laps mostly on the Ash to Kings Canyon trail.
While they’re better prepared this year, the Ottos are still planning to compete in the 15-mile race this year to accommodate their boyfriends who will be riding for the first time this year.
The girls, who both plan to attend Western Nevada College after graduation, are setting their sights on professional downhill mountain bike racing.
In the meantime, they’re making their peace with the climbing.
“You’ve got to get downhill somehow,” Molly explained. “After you go uphill, you feel really rewarded, then you get rewarded again by getting to go downhill.”
Still, they’re not completely convinced.
“We kind of cheat sometimes and have our dad drive us up the uphill part,” Mallory said.