BYERS RIDING HIGH AFTER SIGNING WITH NEW TEAM
Niagara Falls Review
February 18, 2011
Brad Peters, Sports Editor
Sara Byers has learned a lot about cycling in a very short period of time.
One of the most painful lessons she has learned is just how expensive riding at the highest levels can be. That's why she was thrilled to announce that she was recently signed to the new cycling team, Juvederm-Specialized-Mazda.
"Being signed to a team like this helps with some of the costs of equipment and races," said Byers.
But that's just one of the perks of being signed to a team. Byers is clearly more excited about the opportunity to learn from and compete with the other members of this new racing team.
"I was talking with someone who was a member of one of the teams that makes up this new team. There were two teams that have come together to form this new one," she said. "This person, Anne Guzman, was my connection. She'll be on the same team – she'll be on the part of the team at the bigger races, travelling out of the country. It was a bit of a fluke, actually.
"Anne was the one who encouraged me to go to the nationals last year."
Guzman will be racing with the new team's international component, while Byers will racing in the local and national events for the team. She would do well to heed any more advice coming from her new teammate Guzman. Not only did Byers listen to Guzman and attend the big event last year, after a last-minute scramble to secure the funding to attend the National Masters Road Cycling Championships held near Edmonton, Alta., she made the most of the experience, finishing third in her first event (a 21-kilometre time trial) and winning gold in a 72-kilometre road race. Not only did Byers win her age category (30 to 39) at the race, she finished first overall.
The fact that Byers was in the middle of a Masters road race itself is an incredible accomplishment, considering that she only began competitive cycling less than two years ago. After a dramatic weight loss and dedication to her personal health, she was encouraged to start cycling. Before long she was leaving those who encouraged her to ride in the dust. Mountain bike rallies and road race victories soon followed, as did the opportunity to represent Ontario at the National Masters meet.
While Byers says that she loves all of the different cycling disciplines, as she has moved into the upper echeleons of competition, the time had come for her to focus on just one style of competitive riding.
"That was hard," she admits. "I really do love all cycling, but I've got to focus on road racing. Mountain bike riding is a lot of fun, but it's a totally different skill set from road racing."
But that doesn't mean that she will be leaving off-road racing entirely behind her. Byers recently confirmed her commitment to represent Liberty! Bicycles (Niagara's biggest bike shop, located in St. Catharines) at local mountain bike races as they fit around her road schedule, including the Liberty! Bicycles 12 Mile Summer Series, Liberty! Bicycles Off-Road Squeezer and this weekend's upcoming Frostbike Winter Mountain Bike Race put on by the ShortHills Cycling Club in Port Colborne.
"These races are purely for the fun of it," she said. "The team is new and made up of a very strong group of young local competitors who will be tearing it up this summer in both the Provincial Road and Mountain Bike series.
"I look forward to supporting them and contributing to the team."
In addition to the help with cycling costs and coaches, Byers says one of the main advantages to joining Team Juvederm-Specialized-Mazda is the increased profile and level of competition to which she will be exposed.
"I'm just really excited to see how far I can go," she said. "I just want to compete at the highest level possible."
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