Ashtyn “Sweets” Lamb, 12, of Joseph rockets down mountains on her bicycle at speeds up to 40 mph. She’s covered head to toe in IXS body armor, but a root, a rock or a big drop can send her over the handlebars and out of competition in a split second.

She experienced that in her second race this year in Port Angeles, Wash., in April. A separated shoulder kept her out of her next two planned races.

Potential wrecks are something she thinks about at the top of the hill, but it’s constructive thinking.

“I’m not ‘scared’ scared,” she said. “I’m nervous because there are big challenges on the course.”

She’s up to those challenges, and was back on the circuit, climbing the ranks by mid-June. She took a third at Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, and a second at the Steven Pass, Wash., race just last week.

Her next race, the July 27-28 Pro Gravity Tour Northwest Cup at Tamarack Resort outside of McCall, Idaho, is a qualifier for the nationals.

She’ll be in the company of top riders from the U.S. and Canada. The event is expected to draw more than 1,000 riders in cross country and gravity events.

Ashtyn likes the competition and camaraderie her sport affords.

“You’re riding and racing with other people and that’s fun,” she said. “It’s not all about winning. I’m on a team, and I like to be there for my team.”

Ashtyn is part of the West Coast Racing Downhill Team, and she can call some of the top women riders in the world “teammate.”

“Jamie Rees of Spokane is on our team, and she’s competed all over the world. She’s a pro woman racer,” Ashtyn said.

In fact, there are quite a few top women racers for Ashtyn to look up to who hail from the northwest — which pleases her dad, Zeb Lamb.

“She wants to have that pro woman experience,” Zeb said.

“Ashtyn’s had the right training to achieve that goal.

She has been riding mountain bikes since she was four, following in the footsteps of her downhill racing dad and her older brother Jed, who went to the nationals in 2012. “My first race was a little street race at Silver Mountain Resort when I was about seven,” she recalled. “I won that first race, and it inspired me to take on downhill.”

Downhill was a good fit. She’s placed in her age group at top northwest races since she was nine. She was riding her specialized, dual shock “Intense M9” bike by age 10.

Now that she’s graduated to the 11-18 year old class, she’s competing against top women and having her best year ever.

“I can’t stop, because I love it,” Ashtyn said.

At 12, Ashtyn is already a good enough biker to have a dozen sponsors including IXS Apparel, Fox suspension, 510 shoes and Spank Bikes.

With dad as her mechanic and coach and the family behind her all the way, she expects to finish a minimum of 10 races in the Northwest Cup Series this season — barring any more wrecks.

For more information about mountain bike downhill racing visit Wallowa Mountains Bicycle Club Facebook and West Coast Racing Facebook page. To purchase a mountain bike and get information on local biking visit Outlaw Motor Sports, supplier for Giant bikes, in Enterprise.

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