Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

The Extreme Cyclists of the Navajo Nation


Rodeo is a common passion on the Navajo Nation—a reservation the size of West Virginia that stretches across New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona—and a couple of years ago, when he was thirteen, Nigel James was an up-and-coming calf roper. But then his horse got pregnant and he couldn’t ride her, so he turned to his bike and started building downhill trails and ramps around his parents’ place. Soon he was riding his bike the way a roper rides a horse: in brief bursts of speed that give way to daredevil maneuvers. This school of cycling is called enduro, and Nigel had a gift for it.

The summer before, Nigel joined a long bike ride on the reservation called the Tour de Sih Hasin—three hundred miles over seven days, much of it on rough dirt roads and hills, in the punishing July heat. On the second-to-last day, he wanted to quit. His mother said that was O.K. But the next day he pressed on, becoming the youngest rider ever to finish the tour.


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