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August 18, 2022

Cycling: Affonso puts pedal to the metal

When Manny Affonso IV talks about his early experiences falling off a bike, he does it with glee. Affonso was riding a mountain bike in his first-ever cyclocross race three years ago, and the result was rather predictable.

“I had no prior experience, and I fell a bunch of times,” he said. “But it was exciting.”

When asked to recall a race in which he went flying off his bike, the San Benito High junior turned to his mom and asked, ‘Mom, where was the the race where I totally ate it?’ In cyclocross races, crashes are common.

In fact, how a cyclist recovers from a crash often determines his or her finish. A burgeoning worldwide sport, cyclocross can best be described as equal parts road cycling, mountain biking and cross-country cycling.

“Jumping off the bike is one of the main parts of racing cyclocross,” he said. “Not only do you have to be strong on the bike, but when you get off the bike, you have to carry the momentum up the hill. One time I was racing at Manzanita Park in Prunedale and they had this pretty steep hill. I just chucked my bike on my shoulder before hopping over a barrier. You’ve got to keep going no matter what is in front of you.”

Affonso recently won the Central Coast Cyclocross (CCCX) Series for the boys 15 to 18 age category. The series consisted of eight races, from which points were accumulated and then combined to determine the champion. Affonso, who also competes on the San Benito High track and field team, finished with 403 points to out-distance second-place finisher Dylan Gong, who had 382 points.

“For sure this is one of the biggest wins of my career,” Affonso said. “I’m super proud of this one—I’ve got a plaque on the wall and a jersey coming in the mail.”

Affonso clinched the series championship with a second-place finish at Ford Ord on Jan. 15. Affonso started entering cyclocross races three years ago, after watching his dad, Manny Affonso III, compete in races.

“I just hopped on a mountain bike one day and started there. From there, it went to cyclocross,” he said.

Affonso IV and his dad always talk before a race, laying out the course details and strategy. Junior cyclocross races are timed events, usually ranging from 30 to 45 minutes. While that might not seem long, a top rider has to be in tremendous shape to complete a race. Affonso has no idea what the future holds, but one thing is certain: He’ll race as many times as possible before he decides to hang up the bike.

Affonso receives inspiration from his parents and his grandmother, Elvira Robinson, who is a longstanding community activist in Hollister.

“She encourages and supports my racing,” Affonso said. “Her activity in the community is really inspiring. She was on the board of trustees at Gavilan College for 20 years. She’s mentored young people all her life, promoting education. She has received five woman of the year awards, in two different counties. That gives me a lot to live up to.”

Emanuel Lee
Sports Editor of the Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. PR of 3:13.40 at the 2019 CIM. Hebrews 12:1.

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