Steamboat club cycling program on the upswing
Winter Sports Club program has grown more than tenfold since inception
Steamboat Springs — When Ben Clark became the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Cycling Program director in 2006, the landscape of the program was bare.
The numbers weren’t great, and there wasn’t much direction.
There were 12 members on the team. But Clark knew what a cycling program in Steamboat could be. With natural athletes, especially on the Nordic skiing side, cycling seemed the perfect crossover.
So Clark went to work, establishing a youth program, a development team and an elite team.
Five short years later, those 12 members have morphed to more than 150.
“We’re starting to see the feeder program come to fruition,” Clark said. “It’s taken a few years for younger kids to develop into this, but it’s been pretty amazing.”
For a town that’s known more for its winter athletes and burgeoning cycling community, the Winter Sports Club program is a good barometer of cycling in Steamboat.
The program started with limited numbers and now has multiple riders competing in college or professionally.
“I am surprised at how it’s grown,” said Linnea Dixson, who started with the program in seventh grade and plans to ride for the University of Wyoming next year. “We were just kids that went out to have fun. But we’ve developed this competitive edge. We’re a team that goes out and does well.”
The team has produced multiple high-level racers. Notable alumni include Sarah Dixson (racing in college), Adam Parke (raced professionally), Bryce Gordon (racing in college) and Bo Randolph (working at Eriksen Cycles and racing).
“I just wanted to get better at biking and have a lot of fun,” said Jeffrey Gay, who started in the program four years ago and will compete with the University of Colorado club team in fall. “As it went on I discovered it put me more in a competitive role. I enjoyed that. It’s still having fun, but doing well is a main goal.”
The number of riders competing beyond the program is likely to increase with the newfound interest in the program.
In addition to larger numbers and a feeder program, the team continues to tap into Steamboat’s long list of former professional cyclists.
The elite team features Ian Gale, Tammy Jacques and Rishi Grewal.
Jacques did four years with the U.S. National road cycling team and 10 years with the U.S. mountain biking team. Grewal was a five-time road team member and did six years with the mountain bike team.
The two have won mounds of races, across multiple disciplines all across the globe.
“It’s great for the athletes,” Clark said. “My knowledge is limited to my experiences. (Rishi’s) are worldwide. As far as knowledge of what it takes to compete on the professional level, Rishi and Tammy know a lot more.”
With the additions of Grewal and Jacques to the team this year, it’s a clear sign the program is moving forward with being competitive.
The team, despite a lack of time and ideal weather to train, has already registered multiple top results in road and mountain biking.
With a full season ahead, and likely enough sun to finally train, that’s not likely to stop.
“I would like to keep going and make the program bigger,” Grewal said. “I want to get coaches in that have a lot of experience. My and Tammy’s expertise is in winning races and getting podium shots. Training is very important, but making the podium was the most important thing. I want to drag that mentality into the Winter Sports Club.”
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