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For the past four years in the NorCal mountain biking scene, the name Sebastian Dow has frequently been at the forefront. The second year varsity rider has accomplished more than most in his time in the league, concluding his legacy Sunday, placing fourth at the state championships on a rainy day in Tehachapi.
The placement was the best of any rider in all of NorCal, a fitting result for a rider who has been a cornerstone of the league in the past four years.
Dow, competing for San Marin, finished the NorCal Division II league season in second place, behind Sean Dickie of Trojans High. Last season, he placed third overall, proving his longevity and relevancy in a demanding league. His success in the league season hadn’t translated to states until this year, reaching the top five for the first time since he was a freshman.
“He does everything for the sport, down to his eating, sleeping and training,” coach Herve Guinard said. “He inspires the other riders with his passion.”
Dow has trained year round his whole high school career, riding six days a week while getting a lot of sleep and keeping up on schoolwork. For Dow, there is no other way he’d like it.
“I have a deep love for the sport. Getting out on the bike is the thing I look forward to the most,” Dow said. “Switching between road and mountain, keeping it fun, meeting new people on the trails, it keeps it very fun.”
While many riders drop off of the podium radar at some point during their four year careers, Dow has always been at the front of every NorCal race he has competed in, including the start of this season when he was coming off of a knee injury.
“I had no idea what was happening,” Dow said. “The injury was really stressful, because I wanted to do the best I could in my final NorCal season.”
Dow injured his knee in December, during his most strenuous training block. Although he was never diagnosed with a specific injury, Dow was forced off of the bike for two months. The setback didn’t dampen his spirits.
“I spent nearly every day in the local club swimming laps,” Dow said. “I was just trying to keep some sort of fitness while I was off of the bike.”
He began his slow transition back on to the bike mere weeks before the first race of the season. Despite the adversity, he maintained a positive attitude.
“It actually helped me,” Dow said. “It enabled me to be fresh at the end of the year, and let me peak at the right time.”
Dow also noted a change in his approach to this year.
“This season I haven’t stressed about the results, that attitude has really benefited me.”
Despite the sentiment, the results have still been there. Placing fifth in the first race and fourth two weeks later, Dow rounded into form, winning his first ever varsity race on March 31st. He stayed within the top three for the remainder of the NorCal season.
“Sebastian is very positive,” Guinard said. “Even if he doesn’t win, he is fine with that because he knows that he gave everything he could.”
San Marin has profited off of Dow’s success, winning their first ever NorCal Division II title. The work ethic of their best rider has rubbed off on the whole squad.
“He’s a good example of what you can do with the sport,” said fellow varsity rider Wilson Perry. “He puts in the work and it shows with the younger kids in the team, just how fast you can be on the bike.”
Dow has excelled on the individual front, but he still is excited with his team’s exploits and the growth seen in recent years for San Marin mountain biking.
“We have a really good group of kids. If everyone does the best they can, we know we will do really well,” Dow said. “We have a small team, but it is growing now. Everyone on the team is pretty serious, which is great and provides a good community.”
Dow will continue his season after states as he prepares for nationals in July, before he starts his college racing career at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His time with the team will be sorely missed following Sunday’s culminating event.
“Next year will take a big hit,” Perry said. “We have a lot of seniors on the team. Sebastian is by far our biggest points earner. Losing him and his mom, who is very involved with the team, will be a great loss.”
Regardless of what happens next year, both Dow and San Marin have taken full advantage of their golden years.