Culture

The Photo Vault: The 1991 American flyers

A veritable who's who of American cycling from the 1980s through the early 2000s gathered for a training camp.

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Who: Top American riders

What: 1991 United States Cycling Federation training camp

Where: Hunt, Texas

Black & white photo of many athletes in cycling gear standing on the steps of the Heart O' the Hills Inn
Photo: John Pierce / PhotoSport International

The top American riders and their coaches pose on the steps of the Heart O’ the Hills Inn outside Hunt, Texas, in this photo from 1991. The image was taken during a United States Cycling Federation training camp, and a venerable who’s who of American cycling from the 1980s and 1990s is present. Steve Larsen crouches on the steps, just ahead of Linda Brenneman, Kelly Boyden-Owens, and Bob Mionske. To Mionske’s left stands Chann McRae, Ruthie Matthes, Dede Demet-Barry, Jan Bolland, and Jame Carney. Lance Armstrong stands on the left rail and a young Bobby Julich stands up top.

Julie Young, now a coach and a regular columnist with VeloNews, was an attendee at the performance camp as well. She stands several steps behind Armstrong.

“We would train during the weekdays and race on the weekends,” Young said. “I had such a positive experience there.”

The camp was run by Chris Carmichael, then a senior-level coach with the federation, and it included long rides and various lectures by coaches Craig Griffin and Henny Top. Overseeing the operation was Jiri Mainus, USCF’s National Team Director at the time. Midway through the camp three senior USCF staffers arrived: Dan Birkholz, Peter Van Handel, and Andrezj Komor. They conducted physiological testing on the athletes. The three departed on a flight back to Colorado Springs, and in a tragic moment in history, they never made it home. The United Airlines Flight 585 they were aboard crashed into Widefield Community Park just south of downtown Colorado Springs. All 20 passengers and five crew aboard were killed. Birkholz, a retired pro, was a development coach and coordinator with USCF, while the other two were sports physiologists from the United States Olympic Committee. Komor, 39, was an aerodynamics specialist who had worked with the athletes in the wind tunnel. After the tragedy the camp was called off and the riders were sent home.