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Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood: Beat by a girl

Got beat by a girl today, thank you very much. Not just beat, actually, but crushed. So were a handful of my colleagues,many of whom are stronger riders than me. What makes the story compelling is that it wasn’t one of the local Boulder-areapros like Kimberly Bruckner or Dede Demet Barry handing our asses to usup the local Flagstaff climb, but Allison Lusby, an unsponsored part-timeworker in our very own www.velogear.com warehouse, riding on a borrowed Serotta. In just her second year of cycling, Lusby, 28, is a climbing phenomenon — although she’d never tell you. Interminably shy, Lusby’s

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By Neal Rogers

Got beat by a girl today, thank you very much.

Not just beat, actually, but crushed. So were a handful of my colleagues,many of whom are stronger riders than me.

What makes the story compelling is that it wasn’t one of the local Boulder-areapros like Kimberly Bruckner or Dede Demet Barry handing our asses to usup the local Flagstaff climb, but Allison Lusby, an unsponsored part-timeworker in our very own www.velogear.com warehouse, riding on a borrowed Serotta. In just her second year of cycling, Lusby, 28, is a climbing phenomenon — although she’d never tell you.

Interminably shy, Lusby’s newly discovered talents have been nurtured,and touted, by Velogear warehouse manager Mac Caldwell, a two-time mastersnational champion, whose son Blake, 19, is on his way to achieving greatnesson the bike in his own right. Mac rode along with us today, to witnessAlison’s disposal of the five-man male-flag waving group firsthand.

She dropped him, too.

Recently upgraded to a cat.2, Lusby’s race resume is impressive, ifinconsistent. She placed second to Bruckner last year at Colorado’s prestigiousMt. Evans Hill Climb. “It took me a long time to drop her,” Bruckner recalled.“I was like, ‘who is this girl?’”

You can bet Bruckner recognizes Lusby nowadays, however. More recently,Lusby again took second to Bruckner, this time at the Boulder-area RabbitMountain time trial, an 11km TT that dishes up its final kilometer at a6-percent grade, with the last 500 meters hitting 13-percent. Her gap behindBruckner was just eight seconds. The following week, Bruckner went on torepeat as national time trial champion in Pennsylvania, while Lusby DNF’d,after throwing the chain from her TT bike three times.

“It was the first time I’d ever put the bike together myself,” Lusbyadmitted. “I’m not much of a mechanic.”

Caldwell claims Lusby would have taken top-ten without the mechanicals.“She’s still too cautious, in corners and down hills,” Caldwell said ofhis young protégé, “but her power-to-weight ratio is unbelievable. Allison had her VO2 max tested at [University of Colorado] and was one of the three best woman cyclists they’ve seen.”

A former track and cross-country runner at CU, Lusby’s no stranger toher anaerobic threshold — it’s the nervousness of group riding that causesher concern. “I would like to ride with a team,” Lusby said. “I know Ihave some weaknesses, particularly descending, and I’d like to learn someskills. I very rarely ride with anybody, or in a group.”

But how does a rider with this kind of natural ability go without ateam? Easily. For all her strength in the hills, Lusby hasn’t an inklingtowards self-promotion, and hasn’t produced a result in a big race. Anearly-season offer from T-Mobile director Jim Miller to occasionally ridefor their developmental team has yet to materialize, and, misunderstandingthe terms of the offer, Lusby passed on opportunities to join regionalwomen’s programs. So for now, Allison races in a plain purple jersey, andwhen training, leaves a trail of fragile male egos in her wake.

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The Society for Cancer Awareness has scheduled a fundraiser June 6 atthe Manayunk Brewery in Philadelphia, from 6-9 p.m., to coincide with theUSPRO Cycling Championship and Liberty Cycling Classic weekend.

“Cocktails for Cancer” (www.cancer-awareness.com)is a benefit to help raise funds in support of the Neil “Skip” Hamshermemorial Scholarship Fund and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The eventwill also be the first fundraiser held by the newly founded Society forCancer Awareness. Tickets for the event will sell for $30 and are goodfor one cocktail, a variety of appetizers and entry into a raffle drawing.

•••

Clif Bar Inc. recently announced its second annual “Beyond the PodiumAward.” With the moniker “A tribute to cycling’s unsung heroes,” the awardwas designated to honor the U.S. Postal Service Team domestique who makesthe greatest contribution to the team during this year’s Tour de France.

Cycling enthusiasts nationwide will select the winner by voting onlinefor their favorite U.S. Postal domestique at www.clifbar.com from July 12 to August 3. They can obtain more information about the 2003 U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling team, including a list of this year’s domestiques, at www.uspsprocycling.com.

Designed by Clif Bar to recognize the invaluable teamwork and personalsacrifices made by the eight domestiques in attempting to secure victoryfor their team leader, the Beyond the Podium winner receives $10,000 cash.Last year, cycling fans cast more than 12,000 votes in selecting RobertoHeras as the 2002 Beyond the Podium winner.

“These guys are truly heroes to the sport because they’ve created theright recipe of individual contribution, sacrifice and teamwork to makesomething amazing happen,” said Gary Erickson, Clif Bar Inc. owner andCEO. “This award aims to recognize that commitment and passion.”

Clif Bar will announce the winner in late August and the public is invitedto join the Beyond the Podium celebration in October at the 2003 InterbikeInternational Bicycle Expo in Las Vegas.