Ever have a kid wander in like a lost puppy and never leave? This my friends is Brandon Koch! (Bran-done Cook) Brandon was the very first kid on the Block Jr. DEVO Team. Not only was he the first, he was actually 2 weeks early. Well, he was on time, the weather didn’t cooperate and we postponed our tryouts two more weeks but officially he was the first!
Brandon was just 16. He had just come off of leg surgery from a bad soccer career ending injury. He bought an entry level mountain bike to start rehab and we told him about the plans to start this kids mountain bike team.
Little did he know that he was about to enter a hornets nest. You see, the kids on this team were national champion BMX racers (Sean McElroy, Angelo Loskota, Dawson Terry) and then a handful of beginners. Brandon was at least 4 years older then the next oldest. I gotta say after the first day I would have bet anything Brandon was never coming back! When you are 16 there is a certain pride and having your ass handed to you by 11 and 12 year olds is unacceptable! Brandon never left, he never quit and to this day is one of the most loyal and true to his words people that I have ever met!
His gimp started to go away as he got stronger and his love for all things bicycle grew. He excelled and got faster every week. We spent a lot of hours in the desert across the street from the shop building trails, doing clinics and training. Brandon was not naturally gifted but he was a student of the sport and his improvement was huge! The thing was he had a big engine from all the soccer that he played he just didn’t know how to control it. Little by little his technical skills improved. The problem was so did the rest of the kids and Sean would continue to haunt Brandon (and the rest of us) for years to come. But this is what assisted Brandon’s progression. This is what his passion grew from!
Then one day things started to come together. Brandon started taking chances. Somehow… he lived! But there seemed to be an overnight transformation that took him to another level. He didn’t so much have the aspirations to become some big racer but he was able to do all disciplines (road & mountain) and do them pretty well! Maybe it was young kids beating him up. Maybe he matured. Maybe it was showing up to every event and practice and putting 100% effort into riding. Something definitely worked!
In 2011 we relocated Block Bikes from the old warehouse location to the current location. The day that we moved Brandon went from a “team rider” to a full time employee and even more a “family member”. This kid at about 100 lbs soaking wet, worked nonstop as a volunteer for the move. Brandon could lift boxes twice his weight over his head and we built scaffolding that we nearly died on. Nothing phased him! Brandon was industrious, intelligent and motivated – things you don’t see in modern day youth! He was sent up to Specialized where he earned and BG Fit certificate and did a ton of bike fits on our customers. In that 3-4 hour process a lot of people got to know Brandon and always complimented at how big an asset he was! He knew every detail of the shop and could do every job description. He was one of the most customer friendly employees that you could ever ask for!
The next few years went by in a flash! The next thing we knew Brandon was loading up and heading out to Tempe Arizona for his engineering degree. It was a huge loss to us although he has come back and worked every vacation since. He is currently the president of the ASU Cycling Team and races the collegiate series in both road and mountain. He has like a million bikes. That’s not true, but you would think that for how many bikes he has had and swapped around. He commutes around campus on his fixie (we are waiting to see his beard), trains on the road bike and races anything that he can get to. Such a dramatic change to the skinny teenager getting whooped up on by gradeschoolers!
During his visits and in between work Brandon does adventures. He loves to ride and travel and do new things. He always seems to be able to get a race in while he is back home. His climbing skills keep improving and it helps when you only way a hundred and nothing… Somehow this kid can manage a full load at school, lead a cycling team, race, travel and still juggle visits with his family in there. Somehow he makes it work. Brandon Koch is already successful but we can’t wait to see where he goes from here!!