By Mitchell Mylius
The climb begins. Water bottle is full and pockets are stuffed with mid-ride snacks. All he could see was the bend of the trail. Gears shifting down and it was all uphill from there.
Stopping for a break was mandatory for hydration, but the view.
And, well it was all downhill from there.
The brakes are hot and the tires are skidding across the dirt shooting loose gravel over the top of the berm. Gears starting to shift up to gain speed on top of more speed. Excitement rushes through Will Stewart’s veins as the descend gets steeper.
“It’s like I get in this zone and my vision becomes focused, like tunnel vision” said Will Stewart, “There’s nothing like it.”
Will Stewart is a 21-year old LPC student who exercises his own extreme sport off-campus. However, the marketing major can be seen checking his bike to make sure it stays locked and looks beautiful atop his beat up grey Mazda 3 stick shift in the parking lot.
His bike is a 2016 Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 0. A downhill enduro machine that retails at just over $8,000. Stewart jokes that the bike is worth more than the car. And it is.
But, this passion for mountain biking is nothing new. Stewart has been riding all kinds of different bikes since he was two years old, looking up to his father, Mike Stewart. The duo goes on rides to this day. They have even raced on the same team at a slalom event in Whistler, Canada.
“I introduced him to the sport and we have had many great adventures together, thanks to mountain biking” said Mike, “Will has done so much with it, and we are so proud of him.”
The Stewart household was complete with a miniature bmx jump course in the backyard, where Stewart ultimately learned how to pedal and take berms. Time moved on and those 3-foot jumps turned into 10-foot launches with 15-foot gaps at what was known as the Post Office Jumps in Aptos, California. This was a place where pro BMX riders such as Ryan Nyquist traveled to and a haven for others who looked up to him. The jumps ran for 13 years until the park saw its replacement of a housing complex on February 17, 2015.
And with all sports, comes injuries. Stewart gashed his face open at the jumps after a mistake mid-air. He’s also fractured both his wrists. The dirt rider admits that most of his serious injuries came from jumping. However, in downhill riding he did not recall any serious injuries; except getting an infection from some poison oak last week. When asked if he would step away from jumping, he sighs.
Will Stewart stunting at Freedom 40 in Aptos, CA. A piece of property owned and operated by local riders.
Stewart has a BMX bike he takes to the cement park in Livermore. He has a full suspension mountain bike ironically engineered for the mountains. And in the garage there is his hard-tail; a bike primarily for jumps which has suspension in the front, but no suspension in the rear.
“I enjoy them all so much,” said Will Stewart, “It’s too hard to pick just one.”
It is a burden when Stewart finds free time and he has to decide what he feels like riding that day. However, his father found a bike that lets him adapt to the road and the dirt; a cross-country bike. These bikes look like they are made for the road, because they are, but they are beefed up with thicker tires and more comfortable handlebars to handle the dirt as well. Peer riders like Steve Cardoza, find it insane to see some of the terrain he rides on these types of vehicles.
“Yeah Mike is crazy,” said Cardoza, “It’s crazy some of the things he does on that friggin CX bike.”
Bikes have been the gears that drive Will and his father off their bikes as well. Will currently works at 6fifteen Cyclery in Danville, CA. A year ago, Stewart wouldn’t have touched his bike unless it was solely to ride. After working in the shop for a few months, he’s developed confidence in wrenching on his machine. He praises lead mechanic Dan Hoeppner for teaching him what he knows now.
“It’s just so important, you gotta know how to work on your bike,” said Stewart.
While working on your bike is a worthwhile asset for Stewart, he hopes his interest in marketing can land him a job in the industry, similar to his heir. Will’s father is an Account Executive for Giant Bicycles in the Bay Area and abroad. The job description lets Stewart share his passion for cycling everyday with his clients. He does this by riding with them, educating them, and also selling to them.
“The bicycle industry is a great industry where we get to sell fun everyday and share a great healthy outdoor lifestyle that is full of adventure,” said Stewart.
When he instagrams a picture atop Mt. Diablo on his road bike, the caption would read, “Just out here doin work! You gotta love the work!” If there is a group picture he posts, he might call it a “business meeting.” And, the 49 year old will admit, he did not go to school to get this job. He was working in the cycle business since he was 13 years old. But, he claims that to get to the position he has, today you need to have a degree.
“Academics are so important and will serve Will well in life in general and professionally,” said Mike. “It will give him lots of options to figure out what he wants to do in the bike industry and elsewhere.”
Stewart hopes to follow his footsteps as he continues his education.
So, after the LPC student gets his ride in, that same grey Mazda 3 will be pulling up Campus Hill with the light blue mountain bike securely riding up top.
“Man his job is so cool,” said Stewart, “It would be my dream job too!”