Steamboat Springs The 26th annual Tour of the Gila stage race in Silver City, N.M., last week was the toughest event Amy Charity ever has faced.
It wasn’t necessarily the race’s distance or terrain. Rather, Charity was competing with and against a completely different breed of riders.
Charity, who competed in the pro field against top professional riders, including 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, finished 39th overall.
“It was just a combination of it being physically and mentally challenging,” Charity said. “I was out of my comfort zone a lot.”
Charity said the plan was to be in the front third of the pack, but after the first day she realized just what she had gotten herself into. She was fine for the first portion of the race, but that changed at the end of a six-mile climb. Charity hadn’t eaten or drank enough and was in a field of riders who could compete at the highest level.
“It’s funny, I was never really worried if I could do it physically,” she said. “It was more, ‘Can I think this through to get where I need to be?’ That was the whole part of bike racing that you need to figure out.”
After struggling through the first four days, including getting pulled from the Day 4 criterium, Charity finished strong in the last stage, a 72-mile ride with 4,700 feet of climbing known as the “Gila Monster.”
Charity worked with a group of three on the climb and finished 17th on the day, trailing Armstrong by just four minutes.
“I was really pleased with that last day,” she said. “I felt really strong.”
Fellow Steamboat Velo riders Bryce Daviess and Corey Piscopo, racing in the men’s category 1-2 race, also competed. Piscopo finished 40th and Daviess was 61st out of 100 starters.
“This is one of the most prestigious and well-known pro-amateur events in the U.S., and it took a lot of determination for the team to rally three riders through to the end,” Piscopo said.
Piscopo also had his best day on the last stage, a 105-mile road race with more than 8,000 feet of climbing. Piscopo was on the offensive all day before finishing 37th.
Daviess was able to come back and finish respectably after suffering a crash on the first day.
“I would love to go back to that race,” Charity said. “You suffer so much and struggle so much. But on the way home somehow you’re smiling and have the fondest memories and want to do it again.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com