Going Clubbing

Going Clubbing

Hamilton, Jill
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Riding my bike north of town one sunny afternoon, I was astounded by how many other cyclists were out. Yes, it’s true that cycling has had a rebirth in the area. This is due in large part to the efforts of an energetic woman named Jenny McCune who has volunteered countless hours serving as the president and information officer for the Gallatin Valley Bike Club (GVBC) for the past several years. The club meetings literally went from a dozen members five years ago to a packed Lindley Center at the recent annual meeting. The enthusiasm and energy has grown something like the infamous snowball rolling downhill, gaining mass and speed. GVBC attracts three types of riders: road racers, mountain bikers, and recreational riders. For the road racers, GVBC hosts a popular Tuesday night riding/training series from April through September, rotating between three different courses: a road race, time trial, and a fast circuit course.

The anticipation of this riding series keeps our enthusiasm brewing throughout the long winter months and has also created many strong and lasting friendships with fellow cyclists. Several years ago my husband, Ryan, found a way to make the Tuesday night racing more interesting and fun by organizing several different team groupings… his version of shirts vs. skins. Otherwise, it would be the same group of people chasing one another week after week, like the Yankees playing the Yankees every game of the season. This new structure was dubbed Team Formaggio, affectionately translated to Team String Cheese. (You can imagine how serious the competition became with a name like that.)

We’ve been fortunate enough to participate in these weekly rides for the past 17 years… some years at a much reduced frequency as babies were born, houses were remodeled, and other time commitments took precedence. In the past 17 years only a couple of junior riders have tested their skills on Tuesday nights. One of the first youngsters to join us is now 18 years old and is an eleven-time junior national champion, currently residing in Colorado to train with his teammates on the US National Cycling Team. Another junior rider is a BSF Nordic skier and soccer player named Akeo Maifeld-Carucci. Akeo, 14, showed up at the circuit race start line last September on an ill-fitting bike, sporting a borrowed helmet, tennis shoes, and a spirit for adventure. Unfortunately, his race ended with his head kissing the asphalt and a fall that thankfully only left him with a cracked helmet and some skin loss.

This painful ending to Akeo’s first race made it apparent that Team Formaggio needed to incorporate a junior rider and offer whatever help we could. This thought of giving back was shared with the strong interest of our great friends Ron Slade and Scott Bechtle in creating their own cycling team. With the generous financial backing of Ron and Scott, owners of Bechtle-Slade, PC, a Bozeman architecture firm, we’ve been able to supply Akeo with a new Bianchi racing bike, helmet, cycling shoes, and of course the colorful new lycra outfits. Also sponsoring the team is Lundgren Chiropractic, Summit Bike and Ski, and Bozeman’s own framebuilder Strong Frames. As a result, Team String Cheese has now morphed into Team Bechtle-Slade, PC.

Our “team” is composed of a varied mix of players, all wishing to encourage Akeo and to join him in the healthy competition in the local races. We’re older than many of our college-age competitors, and we proudly lug around a few extra pounds during the off-season (only the off-season, of course!), we have children, stretch marks, laugh lines, gray hair, and even a few aching joints. But our main bond in Team Bechtle-Slade is the love for cycling, fitness, and feeling the inner rush of pushing our bodies toward greatness… or at the very least losing the spare tire for the summer months.

Our team’s goal is to mentor the next generation so they might in turn etch their own mark into the arena of road riding and mountain biking. Hopefully some of our countless miles spent on the bike seat can offer some insight and excitement for fresher, leaner legs. If nothing else, we can teach the inner secrets of leg shaving, carbo-loading, supporting the local bike shops, and all of this while keeping it fun! Word to your Mama, share the roads!
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