Local cyclist Amy Charity rides along River Road to practice for the Steamboat Springs Stage Race.

Photo by John F. Russell

Local cyclist Amy Charity rides along River Road to practice for the Steamboat Springs Stage Race.

Steamboat cyclist Amy Charity competing with pros

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Local cyclist Amy Charity recently moved up from Category 3 to Category 2, which means she competes in the same field as professional riders.

— Sitting at a coffee shop on Thursday, just a day out from the Steamboat Springs Stage Race, it was hard to tell what Amy Charity was feeling.

Was she nervous to compete for the first time among professional women? Was she excited for simply completing her summer goal?

She set her goal at the beginning of the summer to move up to a Category 2 rider, which would have her racing with Category 1 women.

The mild-mannered Charity talked about what a privilege it was to ride with the top women after beginning last year as a Category 4 rider. But when there is an athlete like Charity, a little scratching under the surface reveals an unwavering competitiveness.

“I think I’ll be able to hold my own,” Charity said about the weekend’s Stage Race.

The fact that she’s racing as a Category 2 rider speaks not only to her athletic ability, but also to a torrid summer season.

To move up from a Category 3 to 2 rider by the Stage Race, Charity’s task was simple.

She had to win every race she entered to have a chance.

“Certainly, there was pressure on it,” she said. “But there was also this sense of confidence that I could do it. You start recognizing the girls out there, and you start getting a sense of the field.”

It started at the Dead Dog Classic Stage Race in Laramie, Wyo., in June.

There, she lapped the Category 3 field and finished third overall.

Next was July’s Mount Evans Hill Climb where a photo finish vaulted her one step closer. Finally, at the August Salida Classic, Charity managed three days of racing to win the Category 3 race and earn enough points to move up.

“In the past, she’s always been a multi-sport athlete,” said Corey Piscopo, who rides for Steamboat Velo with Charity. “She runs and swims. This year, she really focused on biking. A lot of people were pushing her to just train on biking. She’s had really good results all year. She’s just naturally talented fitness-wise. Some people can move up really quickly. She trains like crazy and is very dedicated.”

It shouldn’t, however, come as a surprise to anyone who knows Charity.

Her life has been filled as an athlete.

She grew up in Fort Collins swimming. She attended boarding school in Connecticut where she played water polo. She then attended Vanderbilt University where she continued her water polo career.

At age 22, while living in Tampa, Fla., she did her first triathlon, where she finished third in her age group.

“A lot of people struggle with the swim,” she said. “But that’s the fun part for me. I’d done a ton of open-water swimming and grew up running.”

She continued to do triathlons and completed an Ironman in less than 11 hours.

She lived in Washington, D.C., for a while before moving to England in 2005.

There, she founded a group of dedicated cyclists that did weekly rides.

“There is a great cycling culture there,” she said. “It has people of all ages. The ride was the best part of my week.”

She also met her husband, Matthew Charity, on the rides.

Matthew came from a cycling background and was at one time on the British National Team.

The couple moved back to Colorado in 2008 and wanted to live in a mountain town. They checked out Crested Butte and Telluride before finding Steamboat.

While looking for her next great athletic endeavor, Amy decided to focus on cycling. It seemed like a natural fit.

“Having a husband that has a racing background is extremely helpful,” she said. “From the mechanics to when to rest and when to attack.”

Although she has rapidly ascended the cycling ranks, Amy said she isn’t sure whether that’s where she wants to put all her energy.

Besides, she said, there is a lot more she wants to accomplish.

She isn’t sure what’s next. She said she still wants to qualify for the Kona World Championship Ironman.

She’s also thinking about tackling distance and trail running.

No matter what she does, she’s likely to be really good at it in short time.

“I wouldn’t say I’m just going to be a cyclist,” she said. “Steamboat is an interesting place to live. There are so many outdoor activities. But there is a lot more I want to do in endurance sports.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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