Story 3 – Simi Composite

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Greg Ghrist

Photo: Greg Ghrist

Hear from Casey’s dad

This week’s story comes from Greg Ghrist, Assistant Coach for the Simi Composite Team. His daughter, Casey, is in the image above.

We caught up with Greg, and learned the story behind this photo.

What is your name?

Greg Ghrist

What league are you a part of?

The SoCal League, with the Simi Composite team.

And what role do you play with Simi Composite?

I’m an Assistant Coach. Last year I was just a Ride Leader.

What inspired you to make that jump in training?

My daughter started on the team last year–she was a 6th grader. She was the only girl on the team, out of I think 15 kids. She was leery about going on the team to begin with, as she was the only girl. But then she ended up loving it! I’ve raced mountain bikes pretty much my whole life, so I just decided to up it a little bit this year and have a little more say-so with what goes on with the team. This way I’m part of doing something with her and doing work with the team.

Can you describe the backstory behind the image you took?

That was the first race for junior high last year at Vail Lake. With the JH girls they combined all the 6th/7th/8th grade girls together, so she was one of the younger kids racing, and she ended up getting 5th. She was SUPER excited. Simi Composite has been around for 8 or 9 seasons now, and we’ve only had one or two podiums before her. And it’s actually the head coach who we have now–he’s the one who had those two podiums before.

It was a real big deal for the team to get on the podium, and for her to be as young as she is racing against girls who are older. So she was super stoked to get on the podium. That image was right after the podium, and she’d just come running over to me with her medal.

In your words, how does that image reflect your experience with the team?

All the kids are just super excited. The kids on our team are very supportive of everybody on the team. They’re out there yelling at each other and cheering one another on. We really push the camaraderie between them, so this was just excitement for everybody to get that podium spot.

What is your favorite part of being involved with Simi Composite, SoCal, and NICA more broadly?

Well, I’ve raced mountain bikes a lot in my life, and it’s great seeing how NICA and the SoCal League have just got everything together. A lot of mountain bike races don’t start on time, they come and go… But this is just growing, and growing really fast. There are so many kids nowadays that are sitting behind a computer or their phones all the time, so just getting them outside and riding is very cool. I know there are so many people behind the scenes to make that happen, and nobody knows that they’re doing anything. But it takes more than a couple of people to make this a reality!

How did you personally get started riding bikes?

I started racing BMX bikes when I was six or seven, and then started racing mountain bikes when I was 13 or 14 up in Big Bear. I’ve gone from amateur to racing pro for a couple years. In 1993 I was on the USA Cycling team that went to Canada for worlds. I got out of it for a little while, but now that I’m back into riding with my daughter, of course I’m back racing. I told myself I wasn’t going to race, but then six months later I was asking “where’s the closest race at? I want to do this again.” [Laughs]

I’ve raced mostly downhill stuff, but with Casey doing cross country, I’ve got a hardtail and am racing cross country races. I’m doing a 6-hour race here in a month at Tehachapi. Stuff that I’ve never thought I’d want to do, I’m out there doing. And that’s just because of riding with the kids. When I started last year with her, we had a couple kids who were really fast, and I couldn’t stay with them. It’s forced me to get into better shape so I can keep up with these kids on the practice rides. I don’t want to hold these riders back. I want to be able to stay with them, so I can teach them the things that I’ve learned through the years.

Thanks for your time, Greg!

You can follow Simi Composite on Instagram here.

Did you know: middle schoolers now make up 30% of NICA Student-Athletes! That’s #morekidsonbikes!


Help NICA leagues provide programs in their regions.

Help NICA start and support new leagues around the country.

You can help Share the Ride with even more coaches and student-athletes around the country. Will you help us reach our goal of $100,000 towards youth cycling by December 15th?

Don’t miss these great League opportunities!


New Jersey — Ends at first race!

New Jersey is excited to launch their first race season in spring 2017, and you can help them do it by becoming a Charter Member in their league. Bonus, you get this awesome NJ shirt!

Learn more here.


SoCal — Ends 12/15!

The SoCal League is aiming to raise $10,000 during the Share the Ride campaign. This support helps make cycling possible in one of the first NICA leagues. Will you help SoCal hit their goal?

Support SoCal here.


Idaho — Ends 12/15!

The Idaho League is aiming to raise $20,000 during the Share the Ride campaign. See the linked graphic to the left to learn what your donations accomplish!

Support Idaho here.

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