Deidre York rides in the national collegiate mountain bike championships last year in Truckee, Calif. York raced to 19th for the United States national
Deidre York rides in the national collegiate mountain bike championships last year in Truckee, Calif. York raced to 19th for the United States national team at mountain bike worlds earlier this month. Photo: Caley Fretz (Caley Fretz/Courtesy photo)

D eidre York would never consider quitting mountain biking, the sport she grew to love as a young teenager with her family in Southern California.

Even after her dad, Darren York, died mysteriously while mountain biking near their home in Indio, Calif., then-15-year-old Deidre and her two sisters continued on, cycling and competing because it was just what their family did together.

Deidre, now a senior and member of the University of Colorado cycling team, finished 19th at the 2012 Mountain Bike World Championships in the under 23 cross-country race in Salzburgerland, Austria, earlier this month. She was an automatic qualifier for the United States national team, which included 41 other cyclists. York said she was "super happy" with her 19th place finish, because she started the race near the back of the 42-rider pack and moved up to finish in the top 20. Though she missed the first few days of class at CU, York is working with her professors to get caught back up after her international escapade.

Though she doesn't race for her dad or in his memory, the 21-year-old always keeps him in the back of her mind. After his cycling accident, his autopsy came back totally clean and to this day, the family doesn't know what really happened to him.

"It's kind of a mystery to us," she said.

Her father often told her and her two older sisters, Danae and Deanna, how proud he was of them, no matter what place they got in a race or what decisions they made.

"He was definitely a force behind my mountain biking career," she said. "He's definitely here with me as well."

Even after Darren York's death, there was no question that Deidre York and her two older sisters would keep cycling. Deidre York's mother, Lorraine York, said she never considered asking her girls to stop racing, even after a first-hand experience with some of the sport's risks.

"You always understand the risks when you get up every morning," said Lorraine York, 49, who still lives in Indio, Calif., but spends her summers in Boulder. "I would never tell them not to do something if they loved it. Any sport you do there's always risks."

All of the York sisters were forced to grow up more quickly than most young adults after their father's death. But Deidre York's sister Danae Knight, 24, also raced for the CU cycling program.

Even while traveling across the world for a race, Deidre, who will graduate in December with a degree in speech language and human sciences, always manages to keep her life in order, said Knight -- a value their father instilled in them.

"My dad had more of a perfectionist attitude in life, and he taught us early if something is worth doing, it's worth doing it right and correctly," said Knight, who now lives in North Carolina with her husband. "She carries that attitude through everything."

Deidre York and her boyfriend Sam Morrison, who also rides for CU, pedal together almost every day. Once she was able to get back to the joy of riding, Knight said, Deidre started excelling even more.

"They just got back to the roots of how it all started with our father," Knight said. "She wasn't so focused on racing this year, and what happened was she ended up doing phenomenal."

--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta