It’s always pretty amazing what one can accomplish when given a task like the Tour of the Gila. Some people rise above and find challenges they never thought they could overcome. Others struggle each day and are just grateful to finish upright and with a sense of accomplishment.
The 2017 Tour of the Gila was no different. ZiaVelo had team racers and members not only race, but also supporting others in this five-day event. In the Cat 4-5, we had first time finisher, Zach Taraschi, who had a huge smile and a sense of conquering that was exciting to see at the top of Pinos Altos. Additionally, Francis Horton impressed many people with his quiet tenacity and an ability to push his body to the top of his category with some great racing. Eric Collins also displayed a no-quit attitude and a willingness to keep fighting back throughout the entire week.
In the Master’s A race, Al Senft showed his true iron core toughness and fought on through every stage representing the team with amazing results each day. His teammate, Jerry Garcia, worked and raced hard the first two stages, but was contending with a knee injury and decided to opt out of racing stage 3. This did not keep Jerry away. He stayed around and supported the entire team with a friendly smile and a welcome return at the end of each stage.
In the women’s race the painful lesson of cycling reared its ugly head with the often used quote, “Well that’s bike racing.” ZVC racers, Terry Casey and Tamatha Risner, raced hard all week, with podium finishes in all of the first three stages, including an impressive win by Tamatha in the criterium. And although they were in second and third place in the overall standings and still feeling strong, the last day proved to be a lesson in the cruel tutelage of cycling. Terry fought like a champ the entire week and was held back by a bike issue the last 15 miles, but managed to still ride to the finish line, of course with a clear expression of disappointment. Equally, Tamatha found herself in an unfortunate situation, with a crash in just the last few miles of the race, while riding in good position for a strong finish. Her nor her bike were able to finish the last stage, but both will recover.
In the Cat 3 race, it was great to see the ZVC team director, Dave Rutledge, out representing, along with Kevin Quattlebaum. Kevin provided the biggest race highlight of the week by not only having a plan and working with teammate, Dave, to bring that plan to fruition, he did the right thing attacked at the right time and was able to win the final stage of the Tour of the Gila. Additionally, he was able to win the 35+ division and pull off second place overall and represent the ZiaVelo Cycling team twice on the podium.
However, as with every tour of The Gila the best moments often occur not in the race but before after and during. The support from teammates like Timothy Ketelaar, Chris Schlabach, Marcel Berger, Courtney Trabon, and Shane Cunico, along with their families, brought relief and joy to many of us racing this last week. And not to be overlooked would be Papa Q, Kevin’s dad Mike, and his constant attention, patience and willingness to provide help that made all of us feel good.
And although at the end of a hard week everyone seems ready to attack the course again next year. Can’t wait to see what the future holds in 2018.
For more results, click here.