Dante’s inferno: Chula Vista teen races to top in downhill mountain biking

Neighborhood All-Stars

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Dante Silva has spent much of his life on his bike.

17-year-old Chula Vista resident Dante Silva quickly has grown a profile as a skilled downhill mountain biker.

“I learned how to ride a bike when I was 3,” he said, “so it started pretty early.”

The Chula Vista resident, who turns 18 at the end of the month, said he started racing BMX bikes at age 4. By the the time he was 10, he turned his attention to mountain biking โ€” and from there, it was all downhill racing.

“We start at the top of the hill and go one-by-one and it’s whoever gets to the bottom with the quickest time,” Silva said.

Asked if staring down a treacherous downhill run has its scary moments, Silva said he walks tracks to consider how to ride each one. Because he’s plans to do it quickly.

“That’s pretty much what we work on all the time, is ride on the edge of falling,” he said. “So going as fast as you can, being at your max limit before you fall. That’s pretty much what we practice with the most โ€” trying to push ourselves and get that edge farther and farther to max out our speed.”

This fall, Silva reached his max on the junior World Cup circuit in Europe. He raced in four events, finishing fourth overall, and pedaled to his first World Cup win in November in Portugal.

The victory made Silva the first America in six years to win a World Cup race.

Now he’ll move up to the elite โ€” or professional โ€” level next year. The rider who a friend once dubbed as “Mighty Mouse” hopes to enjoy a strong first year at that level with his sights set on landing a coveted spot on a factory team.

“It totally changed my mindset because before I went to Europe, I was like, ‘What am I gonna do? Hopefully this goes well,'” he said. “But now with this season and winning, I’m really excited about the opportunities and to see how I will do in elite.”

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