PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — Dawson Illi is a member of the Pleasant Grove Biking Vikings. The 17-year-old junior at PGHS has been mountain biking for four years and loves both the sport and being part of a team. “I love that you can go at your own speed, so to speak, whether you want to compete competitively or just for fun, or somewhere in between.” The Biking Vikings support and cheer each other on in whatever they do, which Dawson credits as creating a more unified team and developing long-lasting friendships.
During his second race at Richfield last year, Dawson had a major accident coming out of the starting gate. “I locked handlebars with another biker, flew off my bike, and landed on the ground. While I was down, I was run over by a couple of bikers behind me. I left the hospital with a minor concussion and some bangs and bruises. After my recovery, I was determined to get back on my bike and finish the season strong.
“Coming into this biking season I have struggled climbing hills and having enough endurance to finish the race, let alone finishing strong. I’m not sure what’s really going on. It’s hard to see my friends improve while I am struggling just to finish. Despite these challenges, whenever you see me I will always have a smile on my face. I am not giving up! Mountain biking is a sport that I love!”
Dawson’s coaches have been supportive and have given him helpful advice on his way. One coach said, “You go have fun. You can always come back stronger than before.” Another coach encouraged him to push past the top of hills and rest a little (but not a lot!), and then to just keep going.
Dawson pushes himself with each ride to improve his time, build his endurance, and increase his speed, always making it a point to only compete with himself. “Pursuing these goals helps me grow within the sport, and carries over into all aspects of my life.”
His favorite piece of advice has been, “This is your race, just do the best you can do, and don’t give up,” and Dawson takes that to heart on and off the trail. “I want to make as many fun and enjoyable memories with my friends and teammates that I can, so I will have no regrets.”
When not competing, Dawson likes to hang out with friends, mountain bike, and play video games.
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