Posting podium results at early races
The Gunnison Valley bike team of Team Alpine Orthopaedics (AO) enters its second year of existence adding some more local iron legs/lungs to its roster.
The team came together after some brainstorming sessions between Dave Ochs and orthopedic surgeon Rhett Griggs of Alpine Orthopaedics while Ochs was receiving treatment last spring.
Their intention was to provide funding and equipment support for riders in the valley as well as to create an avenue for junior riders and fledgling competitive adults to test the waters of mountain bike racing.
“We’re taking on every able-bodied and willing racer that wants help and support with racing bikes,” says AO directeur sportif/rider Ochs.
Ochs and Griggs made a concerted effort to find support within the valley. Alpine Orthopaedics is the lead sponsor, with support coming from numerous other local businesses including Pike Builders, High Mountain Concepts, Acli-Mate and the Go To Guide. Crested Butte Mountain Resort has joined in as a sponsor this year and the Alpineer and Rock-N-Roll sports are their hometown wrenching shops.
The connection with Alpine Orthopaedics takes rider support one step further, providing advice for the individual riders for their training plan and recovery from races, as well as injuries.
“A big part of the team is having the doctors involved,” explains Ochs. “The doctors want everyone involved to discuss training needs, get individuals living a healthier lifestyle and find a way to maximize their abilities.”
Last year they had six pro riders, 10 club riders and six juniors on the team. This year they’ve added four more names from the Gunnison Valley to their pro ranks—Brian and Jenny Smith, Brian Dillon and Eszter Horanyi.
The team has seen some early season success, especially from Horanyi.
Horanyi moved to the Gunnison Valley last June. After competing on her own last season and seeing a lot of success, Horanyi was looking for a team like AO for the 2011 racing season.
“I really just wanted a way to connect with other riders and racers in the valley,” says Horanyi. “The sponsors are great and they’ve put together a really good team. It’s fun to be a part of that for sure.”
Horanyi opened her season back in February, teaming up with a rider out of Tucson, Ariz. to win the coed duo title at the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo in Tucson.
She started her Colorado racing season with a win at a race in Pueblo, Colo. on April 17 and then returned to Arizona to compete in the Whiskey Off-Road.
Horanyi went into the event unsure of what race to enter. There was $10,000 in prize money for the women’s pro category that grabbed her attention initially. But, the winner of the singlespeed race would get free airfare to Ireland for the singlespeed world championships in August.
“I was on the fence going for the cash or going for the trip,” says Horanyi.
Ultimately, Horanyi went for the airfare, winning the women’s singlespeed race with room to spare, covering the 50-mile course in a time of four hours, three minutes and 14 seconds.
Horanyi returns to the valley for the Original Growler on Sunday, May 29, a race she won two years ago.
Other Team AO riders made the trip to Prescott posting a mixed bag of results but they returned in force this past weekend at the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde with a handful of podium results.
Team riders Laura Anderson and Jenny Smith won the women’s duo race riding a total of eight laps, 131 miles, in 12 hours. Jon Brown and Travis Scheefer joined forces to ride nine laps, 147 miles, to take the men’s duo title.
Team AO riders will head to Salida for the third stop of the Mountain States Cup series the weekend of May 20-22.
You can follow their progress throughout the season on their blog at teamalpineortho.blogspot.com.
“Now is the time people are feeling good and getting some miles in them,” says Ochs. “Stuff is really starting to happen now.”