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Ascent Cycling Series, Andy Bohlmann hold 100th race

July 19, 2014 Updated: July 20, 2014 at 9:08 am
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Ryan Beecher races Saturday, July 19, 2014, during the Ascent Cycling Series race at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. The race was the 100th of the series. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Because Heidi Martin was raised just off a mountain road and with a playful-bordering-on-reckless spirit that undoubtedly would have sent her hurtling downward the moment someone turned their back, she wasn't taught to ride a bike until she was 8.

And even then, she learned not out of the normal childhood progression, but because she wanted to compete in triathlons. She soon realized cycling was her top discipline in those races and wanted to explore it further, which led her to a sign advertising a cyclocross event at Rock Ledge Ranch.

She competed, crashed, was bloodied and was hooked.

Martin, now 11, is competing in multiple cycling series and finished atop her division Saturday morning at the Ascent Cycling Series race at Cheyenne Mountain Park - the 100th race in the series history dating back to 1991.

Her presence alone, not to mention the 100 or so cyclists who show up each race, gives hope that the series may be around for another 100 races.

"It's totally a big deal," Martin said of race days on the Ascent Cycling Series. "It's also fun because Andy's here."

Andy is Andy Bohlmann, whose wife, Kathleen, started Sand Creek Sports in 1990. Races began the next year and have been going ever since, minus a break from 1997-2002 when Andy and Kathleen escaped an empty house when their sons left for college by making a "dart-on-a-map" move to an apartment in Oaxaca, Mexico.

"During the break we never thought we'd come back," Bohlmann said.

They did return and were coaxed into resuming the series. Ever since, Andy has been dealing with sponsors, venues, licensing, staffing and all of the other logistical headaches that come with putting on the events. He thought strongly about giving it up after Kathleen's death Nov. 30, but his sons insisted he keep it going to remain busy.

Bohlmann has been involved in cycling his entire adult life as a mechanic and official, even working the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

If there's a cycling event in Colorado Springs, Bohlmann likely has a role in putting it on. And those connections show in the quality of racers the Ascent Cycling Series generally brings in, even on day like Saturday when the registration was about three quarters of what it generally is.

Tracy Thelen, a national marathon champion, was the overall women's winner, spending her birthday with 4 hours, 59 minutes, 28 seconds on the bike.

Cameron Chambers won the men's Pro/Category 1, topping the second-place finisher in his category by more than 20 minutes in the 50-mile mountain bike event.

Bohlmann talks as if he'll walk away from the series in the near future, but rumor is he's said that for years. It's hard to buy his desire to leave when you watch cyclist after cyclist approach him and thank him for his efforts. You see a sign commemorating the 100th race that is filled with short notes of appreciation. And you see his enthusiasm in introducing Martin, the series' youngest regular competitor and a symbol of its potentially unending future.

Reaching 100 has required some convincing. Sounds like the next 100 will, too.

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