Antiguan team trades islands for mountains

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— A small group of supporters stood along side a single-track mountain bike trail at the Steamboat Ski Area on Wednesday night holding a flag from the island nation of Antigua.
Not a common site at the mostly local Town Challenge Mountain Bike race series, but for five riders from a nation with a maximum elevation near 1,000 feet, this was not a typical race.
"They said the winning time last year was about 35 minutes and I did it in 41," Antiguan racer Robert Marsh said. "It's not too bad because where we are from is sea level and we are not used to it."
The group of five racers, who all belong to the same cycling club in Antigua, came to Colorado to train and vacation. The group knows a local rider, Amy Brown, who encouraged them to visit.
"I was in Antigua for two years and I used to ride with the mountain biking club there and that's how we met," Brown said.
The group arrived in Steamboat on Saturday and has spent the last several days touring the Steamboat area. The group will head to Crested Butte today to take part in several races there.
"It's a growing sport in Antigua," Marsh said. "Every year we race in a Caribbean Cup series with races on different islands."
Marsh is hoping to make it to the Olympic games as a mountain biker someday. Another member of the club who was not in Steamboat, Rory Gonsalzes, has already made it he raced in Atlanta in 1996. He was coached by Brian Lyn, who was racing in Steamboat on Wednesday night.
"Amy has always said you've got to come here and I pushed for it," Lyn said. "It's more of a vacation (than a training trip). This is what we like to do."
In the hill climb, the visiting cyclist were hoping to get more accustomed to the altitude of Steamboat.
"I guess since we are not dying we are OK, but it still affects us," Lyn said.
Joining Lyn and Marsh in the race were fellow Antiguans Stenlie Mathews, Cliff Williams and Bernard Leonce.

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