Punk rock rolling for the kids

Top pros race on rollers to raise money for youth cycling

Taylor “Unicorn Tears” Phinney may have won a stage of the Giro d’Italia, and Andy "Back in the Day" Hampsten may have won an entire Giro, but they were no match for the punk rock rollers.

Phinney and Hampsten joined more than a dozen pros like Timmy Duggan, Ted King, Mike Friedman and Rory Sutherland Wednesday night in Boulder, Colorado, at a youth-cycling fundraiser dubbed Punk Rock Rollerfest. Up on stage at the Boulder Theater, heats of four riders raced 500m on fixed-gear bikes.

For a few seconds at high cadence, the riders earned silly nicknames and youth cycling charities scored more than $3,000.

Spinning like mad to the sound of cowbells and a screaming audience, the reason for the riders’ efforts was right in front of their eyes. The evening’s proceeds went to Boulder Junior Cycling and the Just Go Harder Foundation, and the front rows of the theater were packed with young kids in cycling jerseys.

“A lot of the pro riders here have come through a junior program of some sort,” said BJC board president Eric Malmborg. Then, pointing to the kids in the crowd, he added, “These are the kids you’re going to be reading about in a few years.”

BJC formed in 2007, and has since grown to include about 100 riders ages 8-19 in road, mountain, cyclocross and track.

“We operate a competitive development program we now the pieces in place to take a 10-year-old and slowly develop them to the point where they can compete in UCI junior races and then move onto Collegiate or Elite U-23 programs,” said BJC coach Jon Tarkington. “The only way to do this successfully is with consistent, involved coaches. Best way to get and keep those coaches is to pay them. Simply put, volunteers burn out.”

Former pro and JGH co-founder Ian MacGregor took the stage to thank the crowd “for coming out and helping the next generation’s dreams come true.”

As the heats progressed, a combination of pro riders and local celebrities faced off, cracking jokes and breaking a sweat. Cycling chef and author Biju Thomas expressed mock outrage upon seeing his competition in 2012 Tour of the Gila champion Sutherland. “I was promised fat guys,” he said, shaking his head.

Mike “Meatball” Friedman took the stage, and then took off his pants.

Friedman was the lone ride to break hipster code of racing in jeans; he rode in his team Optum-Kelly bib shorts.

“Say what you want guys, but I’ve never had a saddle sore,” said Friedman.

Friedman won his heat, and cycling physiologist Neal Henderson immediately filed a protest. “Mike wore some performance-enhancing gear,” Henderson deadpanned to MC Michael Robson. “Specifically, a chamois. Please check this with the UCI officials immediately.”

At the end of the evening, it was Bissell rider and 2011 US Pro Criterium champ Eric “Speedy” Young who won the overall, with a time of 15.885 seconds for 500 meters.

But of course it was the kids who won big.

“We know that fast kids and good kids come from all different economic brackets,” Malmborg said.

And unicorn tears take the first round!: and unicorn tears take the first round!
And unicorn tears take the first round!: and unicorn tears take the first round!
Taylor "Unicorn Tears" takes the first heat as Lucas Euser cracks up and Ted King checks the scoreboard

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