‘Change what racing looks like’: Young cyclists, Black bikers diversify SBT GRVL field
The pros get a lot of love in large-scale, nationally known races like SBT GRVL. They are expected to compete and do well. At just nine years old, Ryder Robinson isn’t the typical participant.
Robinson’s age was such a surprise, that he and his mom, Megan, were celebrities for the day, making a social media appearance on SBT GRVL’s Instagram, and getting a shoutout as they crossed the line Sunday morning. Ryder and Megan completed the 37-mile course in two hours and 32 minutes, a little faster than Megan expected.
Ryder wasn’t surprised. He knew it was going to be “pretty easy.”
“I passed a lot of people and it was just me and my mom for a little bit,” he said.
Megan and her husband, Barkley, were planning on doing the 100- and 140-mile courses, respectively, but when Ryder showed interest in riding, plans changed. Megan opted to ride the green course with Ryder instead and ended up having much more fun than if she rode the longer route.
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Ryder is a frequent racer in Steamboat, taking part in the summer Town Challenge mountain bike series and the winter Ski Ascent Series. Megan and her husband have long been active in local competitions, and she’s elated that Ryder is getting old enough and confident enough to join them.
“This is the funnest race I’ve ever done,” she said. “I think it’s fun to share something we’re so passionate about. Just to see him be so into it, it’s really special.”
At 13, Evan Sands was the next youngest racer on the green course, riding alongside his mom, Kim, and dad, Matt. Sands’ cousin, Steamboat resident Ryan Montgomery, 13, also raced. He was joined by his mom Allison Montgomery.
“It’s my first gravel race so I was kind of (intimidated), but not really,” Montgomery said. “I do a lot of mountain biking here.”
The boys pushed their parents, beating them up the hills, something Allison could appreciate.
“We’ve (Kim and Allison) gotten to ride a lot with our Dad, which has been an awesome experience seeing him get older and push himself. Now we’re going on the opposite end of it and (Ryan’s) now pushing us. We’re so lucky we all want to do it together.”
SBT GRVL is one of the first chances the family has had to ride together.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to do races like this with them until now,” Kim said. “We put a lot of work in and they put a lot of work in on the bike, and it’s really cool to see that come to fruition in a race like this, together.”
SBT GRVL wants to be a high-caliber race that can bring out the best in the professional riders, but they also want to be accessible and change the face of cycling in any way they can. From the beginning, the race strived for 50% of racers to be women. They push for women’s participation, but haven’t hit that goal yet.
Expanding it’s diversity, equality and inclusivity goals, SBT GRVL partnered with Ride for Racial Justice last year and offered 25 registration slots aside for cyclists who are Black, Indigenous or people of color.
Brooke Goudy, of Ride for Racial Justice, was the 15th woman to complete the green course. She’s showing people that there is a place for Black women in the cycling community by competing in her first gravel race just weeks after completing the Tour Divide Mountain Bike Route.
“There’s 25 athletes out here, just Black and brown faces who want to change what racing looks like,” Goudy said. “Looking out there you see mainly, in years past, a bunch of white faces. So it’s so wonderful we have the opportunity to come to Steamboat … to have athletes from all over the United States come together and diversify racing.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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