Charity still climbing in pro cycling world |

Charity still climbing in pro cycling world

— There are moments you question your life choices, Steamboat Springs professional cyclist Amy Charity said Saturday afternoon.

Maybe that moment was one of those times, as she waited in another airport for another flight for what will surely be another short visit home to Steamboat.

She’s spent more of 2015, so far, on the road than she has at home, already have traveled the country and the world this season to pursue her cycling dreams.

“Sometimes, I have to remind myself this is what I wanted,” she said. “When you’re at the starting line, its 35 degrees and raining, you have 180 other riders crowded around you and you know you can crash, you question what you’ve done.”

There are many more moments where it’s the exact opposite reaction, however, and it’s been with wide-eyed optimism, humble gratitude and lighting bolt legs that Charity has taken yet another step this season, higher into the cycling world.

She ushered in 2015 by signing a contract with one of the nation’s most elite teams, then was tapped by the U.S. Cycling Team to compete in a series of early season races in Belgium and the Netherlands.

“There’s a lot of work involved, but after you finish a race and get a decent result, there’s no better feeling,” she said. “Racing with the national team and racing with Optum, I feel like I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought possible.”

Signing with Optum Pro Cycling was no small deal for Charity, who quit her “normal” job and took her riding from serious to professional in 2013. She rode with the Vanderkitten team for 2013 and 2014, then in January got a new job, with Optum.

That was a big moment for Charity in and of itself.

“It’s one of the top 10 teams in the world and one of the best women’s pro racing teams in the United States,” she said. “Getting the call to be on it, it’s probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. I’ve been working really hard for a really long time, and it pays off when you a contract with your dream team.”

Training with that team began quickly. She spent three weeks there, then in February was contacted by the U.S. Team.

She raced with the U.S. in two European events last year and wasn’t about to turn down another chance. She was asked to compete in a series of six one-day races in a three-week span.

She spent one day in Steamboat between her California Optum training camp and her flight to Europe.

“Everything about it was last minute and quick, but when the U.S. team calls and asks you to go, you don’t come up with a reason why you can’t,” she said.

In Europe she found wildly competitive races.

Her role on the team was one of support, helping pull along and assist other team racers. In her six races, the U.S. had one fourth- and one fifth-place finisher. Charity was well back in each event, but that didn’t bother her in the slightest.

She soaked up every moment and tried to learn the ins and outs of a kind of racing even she found new and aggressive.

“They were long, hard races, 3 1/2 or four hours, and as soon as they said, ‘Go!’ it’s all out,” she said. “It was wet, cold and gray, and we were racing on what in the United States you’d call a sidewalk. Sometimes they’d throw more fun in for us and send us on cobblestones. That was mayhem. There were water bottles everywhere, flat tires and crashes. It was just absolutely crazy.”

The races drew big crowds and were featured on TV. One fan even approached Charity asking for an autograph on a race picture of Charity, making her second race appearance in Europe.

Still, bumping across wet cobblestones in the middle of 180 aggressive riders packed onto a sidewalk while riding in rain cold enough it feels like it could turn to ice any minute? It seems like that could be one of those, ‘What am I doing?’ moments.

Not quite, Charity said.

“I’m definitely living my dream,” she said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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