Jonah Freedman did plenty of traveling in Europe this summer.
“We had a day where we took a bus, a train and an airplane,” he said. “We took every type of transportation.”
For Freedman, though, one mode of transportation ranked above all the rest. That would be his bike di lui, a Commencal Supreme, which he toted around the continent so he could hop on it and tackle tricky trails.
Freedman, a 17-year-old Adamstown resident, is a downhill mountain bike racer. He was overseas competing for Team USA in the 2022 Mercedes-Benz Union Cycliste Internationale Mountain Bike World Cup, a series of races in various disciplines, including downhill, a demanding style that requires racers to speed down steep hills and brave tough turns, rocks and high jumps.
Racing in the junior category for 17- and 18-year-olds, Freedman participated in World Cups in Leogang, Austria, Lenzerheide, Switzerland, and Vallnord, Andorra, before returning to Adamstown in late July.
Freedman didn’t qualify for the finals in any of those events, but he was far from disappointed. These were his first World Cups di lui, and he benefited from the experience of competing in Europe, which produces many of the world’s best racers and features some of the sport’s top trails.
“So much learning,” he said. “I’m feeling way better on my bike than I ever have been.”
Freedman made his World Cup debut in Leogang, and the newcomer was welcomed by a wicked pre-race storm.
“This whole sport is affected a lot by weather,” Freedman said. “And in Austria, it rained a lot, and it hailed and thunderstormed so aggressively, so the trail was destroyed.
“Supposedly it’s the most difficult the trail’s ever been to race at a World Cup,” he said. “Really cool, but miserably wet. I know muddy. I felt like I was thrown into the World Cup. “
He didn’t qualify for the finals on June 11, crashing during his qualifying run.
A dry trail beckoned when he competed in the World Cup in Lenzerheide on July 9.
“That was super fun racing, nice to have a World Cup that wasn’t destroyed by the rain, which made it a lot easier,” he said. “My time was competitive, but it’s really hard to do good at this level.”
In between those first two World Cups, Freedman went to Morzine, France, to squeeze in some crucial training in the French Alps.
“It’s where all the pros go in between World Cups,” he said. “So we’d go there, ride with all the fastest in the country, in the world, have a good two weeks hanging out, which was nice, and went to Switzerland.”
Thanks to vast strides he’s made over the years, Freedman often excels in regional or national races held in the US But Europe proved more challenging.
“It’s a shock,” said Freedman, who vowed to use lessons learned there to keep improving.
Freedman’s trip overseas came during a summer when countless people have had travel plans ruined by canceled flights and lost luggage. But he had no such problems.
“I have this friend, the airlines lost one of her bikes, and they still haven’t found it. It’s been like six months, ”he said. “So I got really lucky.”
Granted, Freedman, who typically uses a bunch of different bikes, only brought one overseas, not that he traveled light.
“I think we brought 12 suitcases full of spare parts and tools,” he said. “There are so many moving parts and so many things that this sport takes, we bring a lot of stuff.”
The trip was part of whirlwind stretch for Freedman. Shortly after returning home, he headed to Snowshoe, West Virginia, for another UCI World Cup that took place last weekend.
After competing in Snowshoe, he planned to take a few weeks off from racing.
“Just to kind of re-center myself, get some time in the gym, which I’ve been missing for the past two months,” he said. “And just be able to get some good training in for the next half of the season. I think the main race I’ll be looking forward to is the US Open in Vermont later this fall, in September. “