By Karen Brainard
As Jaron Cappos races to the top of his mountain bike competitions, his sister, Stassa, is there to capture the moments.
Together they make a good team.
Fifteen-year-old Jaron took part in the Socal Endurance Race Series at Vail Lake in Temecula last weekend, placing first in the junior division on Saturday, and third on Sunday. Each day he raced for six hours, riding up and down hills with elevation gains of about 1,200 feet.
“The feel of being in a race is so much fun,” said the Ramona teen, a sophomore at Mountain Valley Academy.
Stassa, 13, is a budding photographer and was there with her telephoto lens to snap her brother cycling around the twists and turns in the narrow rugged path.
“I just ask her for pictures of me on a bike,” said Jaron.
“I’m his personal photographer,” Stassa quipped.
This was not Jaron’s first win in a mountain bike competition. In November 2013 he won the junior division of another six-hour Socal race at Vail Lake, and earlier in the year he placed first overall in the beginner category at the Quick ‘n Dirty race series at Lake Hodges in San Diego. This month marked his first anniversary of biking competitions.
Soon he will be competing with the Ramona High School Cycle Dawgs. As a freshman on the team last year, he ranked 16th out of 79 at the state high school championships. To get some training in, he rode 100 miles on Dec. 29 with teammate Kyle Skeen — from Ramona to the beach and back.
On average he rides 120 miles a week to practice and build up endurance.
“Training is the icing on the cake. I just like to ride,” he said.
The weekly distances taper down during the high school season, he said, when he works on interval training to improve sprinting for race starts.
The high school competitions are cross country races, usually racing five mile laps in 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Jaron owns three bikes: a mountain bike, road bike and a race bike. He recently picked up Maxxis Tires as a sponsor for 2014 and will get his bike tires discounted. That helps, said his mother, Caron Cappos.
“You really run through tires, whether you’re flatting them or beating the tread off,” she said.
Jaron said he rides downhill at mile-per-hour speeds between mid-20s and low 30s.
“I hit one time 50 mph. That was on a local paved hill and I got a draft off someone,” he said to his mother’s surprise.
Noting that he has moved up from the beginner category at the Quick ‘n Dirty race, Jaron said, “I’m just getting faster. Once I’m even better, I’ll move up to ‘expert.’ That’s my goal.”
He’s also gotten his sister interested in biking.
“Jaron is a good big brother and takes me out on rides,” she said.
With her mountain bike she competed in the beginner female category of the Quick ‘n Dirty race last year, but noted, “I didn’t place as well as Jaron.”
One of the high school competitions this spring will provide a race for middle-schoolers in which Stassa plans to compete.
Photography, however, has inspired her. It started when her aunt loaned her an older Canon camera.
Stassa, an eighth-grader at Mountain Valley Academy, researched and saved up to buy her own Canon last summer and then, because she wanted to edit and enhance photos, saved and purchased a MacBook Pro.
“You can really personalize it...it’s a really creative field,” she said.
While she has dabbled in portraitures, she especially enjoys nature and action shots, which of course includes photographing her brother.
Competing in about 20 races per year, Jaron gives her plenty of opportunities for action shots.