Todd Key competes in the road race at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para-cycling. Here’s what you missed!
Top U.S. Riders Shine In Early-Season Racing
Dozens of top Para-cyclists, including several Paralympians, were on hand over the weekend for three days of racing at America’s “Rocket City.” For the second year in a row, the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open presented by Toyota was held in Huntsville, Alabama.
Without the COVID-19 restrictions of 2021, locals came out to cheer on the riders at Big Spring International Park and Cummings Research Park. The competition opened with a handcycle relay on Friday, followed by time trials on Saturday and races on Sunday.
For the cyclists, the races took on added importance as U.S. Paralympics Cycling selected the 15 athletes who will compete at the season’s first two world cup races, which take place next month in Belgium and Germany. Among those selected was Paralympian and world champion Clara Brown, who won the women’s C3 time trial and road race. The Mainer summed up her weekend on Instagram:
“Saturday: Time trial in some of the wildest cross wind gusts I have ever had the thrill (or terror) of riding a TT bike in, but proud of my performance in conditions not exactly suited for my small stature.
“Sunday: Road race with a strong mixed field 💪 Stoked to have had the opportunity to get away alongside newcomer (Elizabeth Mis)& practice my sprint tactics.
“All weekend long: Powered by blue mascara and the loud encouragement from my favorite cheering squad.”
Check out the event recaps from Huntsville.
Allison Jones Is Back
Allison Jones had competed in eight Paralympics and won eight medals when she called it a career four years ago. It turned out she had more to achieve, and in her first races she showed she’s still one to beat. Jones, who lives in Oregon, won Saturday’s women’s time trial C2 at Cummings Research Park, then won the road race on Sunday. Afterward Jones, 37, told TeamUSA.org that Huntsville was only the start of her next chapter as a Para-cyclist.
“I know it’s an opportunity, and I’m blessed with gifts, and I’m going to keep riding the wave that I’ve known my whole life,” Jones said. “And I’m really looking forward to the next couple of adventures. I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me in order to get back up to the top podium. It’s not just a handout.”
Sam Bosco Is Back Too
After winning two bronze medals in her Paralympic debut in 2016, Samantha Bosco had high hopes for the Tokyo Games that took place last summer. Then, in June 2021, she was part of a multi-cyclist wreck while training. Subsequent head injuries sent her to the ICU and resulted in her missing out on Tokyo 2020.
Over the weekend, Bosco, 35, was back racing, and she left Huntsville with the fastest times in both the women’s C4 time trial and road race. Her time trial time was actually the best of any woman in Huntsville when times were adjusted relative to their respective national team standard.
“It was amazing,” said Bosco, of Claremont, California. “Every time I get on the bike, I feel powerful and strong. I feel unstoppable. So, for me, getting back on the bike today really meant the world to me because it meant that I can overcome anything.
“I feel like I got through the jitters of the first race back, and so tomorrow will just be going back to having fun with it.”
Bosco reflected on her journey as a cyclist in an Instagram post before heading to Huntsville.
“I’ve had some amazing days,” she wrote. “And I’ve had some very tough days. Regardless of the day, I know the sun will always rise again and is there even when the clouds cover her up for a minute.”
Afterward, Bosco wrote that she “felt every emotion this last weekend.”
“The highest on the list? Elation,” she continued.
“Like my friend said, patting me on the shoulder at the end of our road race, I’m back where I belong. And it sure feels good.”
A Gaertner Family Affair
Travis Gaertner began handcycling in 2017, and he’s gone on to compete at two world championships for Team USA. Yet over the years, which of course included the pandemic, his kids June, Jasper and Ezra had never seen him race in person. Until this weekend.
“So it was great to have them right at the start line, see them, hear them right before we started,” said Gaertner, 42, of Burien, Washington. “They made some signs, which I wasn’t allowed to see until we got here today. They were all super excited, and it was just a great time out here.”
They got to see some good racing from dad. On Friday he opened the competition by teaming with Alicia Dana and Brandon Lyons to win the handcycle relay. Then he won the men’s H4 time trial and road race.
Meanwhile, local news in Huntsville came out to cover the event. Check out the final report from WHNT News 19.