Roxey Roach may be known to some in Prescott as the operator of Village Cleaners, but he’s also an avid mountain biker and descendant of a famous baseball player from the early 1900s.
Roach, who races in enduro bike competitions, is the great-grandson of Wilbur Charles Roach and has the same name, with a “IV” after it. But his family calls him Roxey, his great-grandfather’s nickname. The first Roxey Roach played major-league baseball as a shortstop from 1910-1915, and one of his teams was the New York Highlanders, which later became the Yankees.
While the younger Roach played baseball till he was 15, he said he was always more interested in sports that involved wheels — BMX bikes and skateboarding, for starters. He was one of the first people to use the community skate park after it was built. Roach got into motocross in his 20s, and began racing with friends.
“A couple of my friends had an off-road car, and I was rebuilding Honda dirt bikes and reselling them, then I ended up on a bigger bike,” Roach says. “I fell in love with offroad then, and began racing in 2010 for Whiplash, an offroad-racing organization, and was a champion that year. We raced for years.”
In 2017, after training on mountain bikes for several years, Roach became interested in racing on them. He likes doing enduro competitions — bike races involving hair-raising courses down mountains at high speeds. This fall he and his friends will compete in the four races planned by the Mountain Biking Association of Arizona (mbaa.net).
The Fazt Racing Team includes Roach along with Nick Gabbert, who manages the Thumb Butte Pit Stop, and local firefighter Travis Epperson. They all ride both moto and mountain bikes. Roach said he does cross-country races, too, but his real talent is in enduro racing. “A lot of the races I’ve done are cross-country, and those really aren’t my races — I was in the middle of the pack in my class,” Roach says. “This year I’m riding in the 40 class.”
The team competed in motocross for five years in the US and Mexico before transitioning to mountain biking. While they still do both, the mountain-bike training they did for motocross led them to like it better.
Describing enduro racing as “like the Whiskey Off-Road, but more focused on the downhill,” Roach says that the group looks forward to the series of four races scheduled for the fall, on October 9 at Sunrise Ski Resort in Flagstaff, October 30 at Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, November 6 at Mingus Mountain, and December 3 at the Hawes Trail System in Mesa.
When he’s not out riding, Roach, age 40, operates Village Cleaners in Prescott, now the only in-house dry cleaner in the area, he says. After one local dry cleaner retired and another shut down, to fill the gap and maintain the shop’s three-day turnaround, Roach says he had to triple his staff and add equipment and shifts. The business is extremely busy this time of year as people transition to summer clothes, so it’s convenient that the enduro races are in the fall.
Roach said the beauty of the Prescott area influenced him to commit more to mountain biking. “We live in such a mountain-biking mecca, it was a really easy transition.”
Due to the pandemic bike racing stopped for a time, but mountain biking became more popular than ever as people sought ways to get out of the house and enjoy nature. A fourth-generation Prescottonian, Roach said mountain biking has given him a new appreciation for the area. “Sometimes I see stuff I’ve never seen before,” he says.
He said he thinks the electric-bike trend is good for people to gain the same kind of viewpoint. Many of the trails he rides on, however, ban ebikes, so the only way to capture the same views is via a mountain bike.
Roach’s favorite rides in the area tend to be west of the city, the Sierra Prieta trail and 206, for example. He said he loves the views, and he’s clearly not the only one. He notes that world-champion Olympians come to the area to train.
“The city has been so accommodating to mountain biking and investing in the trails and making it attractive,” Roach said. “Growing up here and seeing so much of the Southwest and the rest of the country, I believe it really is the best place for anybody who loves the outdoors.”