Grand County women’s racing team trains locally, races regionally
July 22, 2009
Accountant Patricia Berger of Granby is one of seven women on Grand County’s “Get Some Women’s Racing” team – one of just four women’s-only teams in the state.
“It’s gotten me back into shape and has gotten me more active than have been the past few years,” said Berger. “It’s provided discipline to make myself get out, go ride and improve my skills.”
Berger had always been an avid bike rider, but racing was something too intimidating to try, she said. She longed for a group to motivate her and keep her company on the road.
Since joining the Get Some team, Berger has already participated in six competitive races since April. Although she hasn’t placed yet, she’s achieved her initial goal.
“My goal was just to go out and be able to do them and finish,” Berger said. “I’ve learned enough about the rules and what to do … And I learned most people are like me who just want to go out and have fun, so it’s not intimidating.”
It was Granby resident Leigh Singleton, an attorney by trade, who started Grand County’s only race team early last winter.
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A marathoner, turned triathloner, turned bicycle racer, Singleton had taken a break from riding in 2005.
“A lot of the reason I took time off from racing is because there wasn’t an organized group up here. Bike racing to me is all about the camaraderie. If you’re just going out to race by yourself, I mean, why bother really,” she said.
The newly assembled women’s team can fill the void for many women who may have the will, but need the nudge.
“When we get older and get away from high school and college sports, we lose touch with that competitive side,” she said. “It’s a racing team meant for people of all levels, people who have raced before to people who are new to the sport, like recreational riders who want the camaraderie of a team.”
Team members are required to volunteer one day a year for an American Cycling Association sanctioned race, and are encouraged to race in five races a season, which can be accomplished in one weekend at a stage race.
Before even having a training ride, the team’s “season opener” was the Tour of Gila, New Mexico, a four-day stage race.
“Actually, we didn’t do so great that race because it was in April and because we live up here, nobody had been on their bike yet because of the snow and we were racing against people who have been on their bike all year-long,” Singleton said. “But for us it was, ‘let’s get out there, let’s ride, get our minds thinking about the season.'”
The women persevered, entering the Dead Dog Classic in Wyoming in June. There, Singleton placed sixth in her category.
“It was big, big climbs over the snow range outside of Laramie, with screaming descents of 50 to 60 miles per hour,” she said.
A week before that race, team members received top-notch instruction from pro athlete Alison Powers, the captain of Team Type 1, who grew up in Fraser. After a four-hour bike ride from Boulder over Berthoud Pass, Powers led a skills clinic with the group – one of several planned – and helped them with racing techniques.
“Alison is so fantastic, and she’s willing to give of her time to the community,” Singleton said.
Grand County’s only cycling team has attended criterium races in the Denver area and plans to race in the Salida Omnium Race the last weekend in July, rounding off the season with the Steamboat Springs Stage Race, Labor Day weekend.
“I would love to grow the team to 20 or 30, ideally,” Singleton said. “Because everybody brings something different to the table. The more people you have during your training rides, the better you can simulate race conditions.”
The team is opening up training rides to riders those may not have intentions of racing. Singleton said she hopes to accommodate everyone’s level. Training rides take place twice weekly on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
“A lot of people are very intimidated, and they’re afraid to show up and race with us,” Singleton said. “But if they just came and rode with us and realized what a great time we had, that it’s really not that pressure-cooker-type situation, then more than likely, they’d want to race.”
After all, it was being invited to ride with a friend’s team with no pressure to race that got her into racing, she said.
“Well, next thing you know, I was racing. And that was years ago. And it’s been addictive ever since. So I want to allow people who have the reservations to come and to realize that it really is for everyone, and it really is fun.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.