DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — An athlete living in Delray Beach is rising to new heights in her sport of mountain bike racing. Alaina Casioppo competed in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup this year and she started riding professionally less than four years ago.
The sound of nature and the rustling of dirt and rocks beneath her bike tires gives Casioppo freedom outdoors.
"When you're on a trail, you have to pay attention to every second because there's rocks, there's roots," she said.
This year she qualified for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
"I went to Puerto Rico earlier this year to race and I was able to come in fourth place behind three Olympians which is amazing when you’re standing right there next to them," said Casioppo about her qualifying race.
Most people ask her how she trains in Florida where everything is so flat, but it turns out there's a huge mountain biking community here.
"These courses, they're not courses with 20 minute-climbs in them, they're short like 3 mile laps that have 2 to 5 minute climbs so it's easier to actually train for those here in Florida," she said.
It was the 28-year-old's first time competing in the UCI World Cup, maneuvering through rocks, hills, and thousands of fans cheering along the trails.
"You're climbing up this hill and it’s so steep and you’re dying and like snot is dripping out of your nose and it’s not really pretty, but all these people are just — they love it and they’re cheering and you just push that much harder," said Casioppo.
Over the course of the season, Casioppo rose through the rankings and with the help of her coach at PFN Speedlab in Delray Beach, she hopes to return against next year.
"We want to grow and develop a larger team on the international level and kind of put Florida on the map," said Casioppo.
Then, next stop, maybe the Olympics?
"For 2024 possibly," laughed Casioppo.