Dynamic duo takes cycling club to a higher gear
The University of Denver’s Club Cycling program has always been a speedy group, but in 2011 it slipped into a read more…
The University of Denver’s Club Cycling program has always been a speedy group, but in 2011 it slipped into a new — and much faster — gear.
One reason? Some say there are two. And the likelihood of them ever meeting was — well, unlikely.
Rebecca Gross grew up in the ’80s in New Jersey — a little girl riding her bike around the block dodging traffic in the suburbs. On the other side of the country, Matt Lyons was racing his bike through the lush greenery of Oregon’s woods during the ’90s.
Last year their bike paths met in the cycling club.
“Rebecca brings a lot of experience to the team,” says Lyons, the club’s president and a sophomore management major. “Riders usually peak around age 28, and she’s reaching her peak. She’s really good.”
Actually, Gross, who’s earning her master’s in sports psychology, is a tad older: 31.
“They call me the team grandma,” Gross says with a laugh. “I’m only 31; it’s not that old. Matt just turned 20, so he’s just a baby.”
But youth is clearly working for Lyons. And if anything, that extra three years has been a plus for Gross. Last fall the two gave DU its first-ever national championship in cycling when they won the short-track division of the USA Cycling 2011 Collegiate Mountain Bike National. Both riders smoked their competition, and strangely, they both won their respective races by exactly 28 seconds. Gross also took second in the event’s cross-country race, as did DU’s Sam Chovan.
Gross and Lyons knew going in they had the goods to win. During the 2011 season, Gross garnered eight first-place finishes in short track and cross-country events throughout Colorado, and Lyons took first in four other road races around Colorado and Wyoming last spring. What’s more, both won the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference in cyclocross.
“We definitely felt like we had a chance to win,” Lyons says. “I thought for sure that Rebecca could win.”
The club began humbly a few years ago when four guys got together wearing yellow shirts with “DU” spelled out in red duct tape on the front. Today, the club has about 30 members (at times membership has reached 60), who train by riding up to 60 miles on weekends. DU covers the team’s travel expenses.
The national championship win has fueled the cycling club’s desire to improve even more, says two-year team member Joe Teynor, a graduate student in accounting.
“Many of us are stoked about it,” Teynor says. “It really is a team sport, and I think [Lyons and Gross] winning is making the team work hard to do better.