If you fancy yourself as a grimpeur, a climber in cycling, this bicycle race has your name written all over it. The Tour of the Gila, or Gila for short, is named after the Gila wilderness of New Mexico, including a National Forest of the same name. The forest is large, almost 2.7 million acres. Several mountains of the area reach heights over 3,000 meters. The town of Silver City, race central, sits at 1,800 meters. The air is thin, and the climbs are thick, so to speak.
What’s the saying? Teamwork makes the dream work
Scientist Sanna grinding up the Mogollon, the Stage 1, 10km long, steep uphill finale
Michelle and Jaime on the Mogollon
Post stage 1, criterium specialist Michelle telling her husband “I’ve been tricked. Even the crit is hilly!”
Gila has hosted a UCI stage race for years, one of the few in the United States. Many champions have climbed to victory here. The 2022 edition was no different, with overall GC winner Lauren De Crescenzo, of Cinch Rise Elite, who’s been tough to beat lately. Lauren won Unbound Gravel and Mid South in the past year, monuments on gravel. Lauren topped the GC podium over riders from the powerful UCI teams EF/Tibco, Instafund, and DNA Racing. The field included PatoBike from Mexico and Desjardins Ford from Canada and was rounded out by U.S. based teams. For our Roxo Racing athletes, this was their maiden voyage to Gila, a race they’ve heard about via cycling folklore.
Intrepid DS Chann McRae, always ready to join the race caravan
Soigneur Ann, who’s a former champion cyclist, loosening up some legs before the start
Not long after they said “go”, the road went up and up
Jaime was in for a long day of chasing, having punctured
The Gila National Forest Pinion trees were a welcome break from the sun
The crit specialist Michelle with the Santa Rita copper mine for a backdrop
Sanna before the ITT start
David our team mechanic, who’s day job is managing an Austin, TX bike shop, The Meteor
Alex the photog was being funny, no doubt. TT warmup
Jaime is on the limit but happy the sage is only 17 miles long
Our staff and riders, with more staff than riders
30 years ago, this business tycoon was a team mechanic. Now he’s one of our sponsors
To contest a stage race of five days with 5,000 meters of climbing, a bike racing team needs more than athletes. The athletes need assistance in the form of food and bottles, for starters. Our team places importance on a soigneur and a mechanic as well. Our DS is a former WorldTour professional. We also place importance on telling our story, which requires imagery. The imagery you see in our stories comes from the camera of our imbedded guy, Alex. Not all U.S. based women’s teams have a soigneur, nor an Alex. Follow our five days of racing through Alex’s camera lens.
Warming up for an afternoon criterium
With the criterium start imminent, call ups are underway
From the gun, it’s nose down and very fast
Michelle is about to get caught behind one of several crashes
Sanna looks composed but the power files later show a very hard race
The Roxos limit the time loss, hoping to make it another day
Postscript: Team rosters at Gila vary from four to six riders. Due to sickness and Covid policy, Roxo lost two riders prior to Gila, which meant we started with four. Our four are all-arounders and they suffered with the altitude and relentless climbing. No podium visits for Roxo. Three of four however, Michelle, Sanna, and Jaime finished Gila on their first try. These women are gifted athletes. They earned their ticket to the top category of racing and now compete with the best. Yet we have work to do. For us, this is the only way forward.
Our happy riders made it to the last stage but aren’t done yet
The Finnish Scientist, Sanna, takes in the art of Mimbres locals on her warmup
Last minute texts before showtime
Our Fort Worth, TX buddy Emily, who’s a WorldTour pro on EF
After the first big climbs, the Roxos chased
Once a group formed and organized, they came back to the front
Sanna made it back, too
Michelle is very happy, as she just finished Tour of the Gila
Through the lens of our talented photog, Alex Roszko, we want to share our story.
See more ROXO Racing at:
• Photos courtesy of Alex Roszko: https://www.instagram.com/roszko/?hl=en
Alex Roszko on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roszkophoto/
• This article courtesy of ArundelBike.com – proud sponsor of ROXO Racing.