Tracy Thelen, Cameron Chambers win second race of Ascent Cycling series

June 18, 2014 Updated: June 18, 2014 at 11:00 pm
Caption +
Andrea Ulrich races in the Cat 2 race Wednesday, June 18, 2014, during the second race of the Ascent Cycling Series at Bear Creek Regional Park. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Tracy Thelen was given a small piece of friendly advice from one of her colleagues before getting back on her mountain bike for another race.

"I told her, 'You better not. At least don't race it like I know you want to,'" Colorado Springs cyclist Cameron Chambers said. "The fact she showed up to this is crazy. It's awesome, but crazy."

On Monday, Thelen returned home to her hometown cycling community with a national championship title. She won the gold medal in the 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships in Gallup, N.M., last weekend after covering 12 laps over nearly 22 straight hours of biking in the women's solo race.

However, it wasn't enough to keep her from a local favorite just two days later when the second race of the 2014 Ascent Cycling Series was held at Bear Creek Terrace on Wednesday evening.

She coasted to another victory easily, being the first women's pro finisher in 53 minutes, 40 seconds.

"This was not the smartest of ideas," Thelen admitted. "It was more of a go out and ride with friends type of thing. You really can't miss these races because they're so much fun. Regardless if you're on or having a bad day, the cycling community will be out here cheering you on."

Despite offering words of encouragement to Thelen, Chambers didn't need any of his own as he took care of business in the men's pro category. His 48:25 finish for first was more than a full two minutes in front of Gunnison's Graham Ruhmann (50:30) and local rider J.J. Clark (50:50).

Chambers took second in the Ascent Cycling series opener June 4 at Palmer Park, finishing behind Colombian cyclist Fernando Riveros. But with the absence of Riveros and USA Cycling's Russell Finsterwald, the field was wide open for Chambers.

"At times, we can have some of the top racers in the world in our series. Others, you wonder who will show up that night," Chambers said. "It makes it exciting. But it's good when it's kind of a thin crowd and you can get a win too."

The second race of the summer series featured a slightly less technical course than that of Palmer Park's, which riders competed on at the beginning of the month. The 2.3-mile route held a couple of uphill sections as well as flat surfaces for competitors to gain speed.

"It's hard out here, really hard. I love it when they suffer," race director Andy Bohlmann said with a chuckle. "Second race in and things are going very smoothly this summer. We've got a record-breaking amount of riders out here again along with the usual suspects. It's a tight-knit community that continues to grow and develop."

Next up, the Ascent Cycling series returns to Palmer Park on July 9 for the third of five total races this summer.

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