[Image: racers coming around a tight corner with lead racer grimacing]

Photo Courtesy: Thomas Hunt

"You wake up and just go out there in the rain and put on a hurricane of pain. It's just fun to challenge yourself all the time."

––Sima Trapp, professional bike racer

Some bicycling enthusiasts are into the sport for the speed. They enjoy racing, and can spend thousands of dollars on a light, fast racing bike.

Boise is home to a group of young riders, many of whom race, called the BYRDS, the Boise Young Rider Development Squad.

[Image: members of BYRDS on a training ride]

"Our goal is to change them from sitting and playing computer games and get them out into life long fitness," says Tobin.

Coached by racer Douglas Tobin, the cyclists go on long training rides and practice agility skills, such as trying to hold their bike perfectly still while they are on it. Even in the off-season, they train with a computer that designs a course for them, even making it easier and more difficult to pedal.

Winning, though, is not the ultimate goal.

"The goal is to have the courage to join the race, says Tobin. "Just getting in there is a win."

Three of Colby Dees' boys are in the group.

[Image: young racers climbing a hill]

Saxton Dees
Photo Courtesy: Bill Sallaz/

"One of the things that was happening with some of the other sports was that they were sitting on the bench a lot because of their size, says Dees. "And biking, although it's a team sport, it's also an individual sport, so they are out there doing it. For my family it's change our whole life. It really has. It's made us all conscious of fitness and being healthy."

"A lot of my friends say, 'Why do you do that? You could be hanging out with us'," says Chase Dees, 12. "I do it because I really like biking; it helps you keep fit. The first time I got on my road bike I felt like I was floating."

[Image: young racer on a training ride]

Chase Dees
Photo Courtesy: Bill Sallaz/

"It's a good sport because it teaches you responsibility and teamwork and how to push yourself and not give up," says Saxton Dees, 14.

"You feel like you can do anything," says Zane Dees, 17. "You can push yourself and you kind of feel like Superman."

For its efforts, the BYRDS were chosen by USA Cycling as the best youth biking club of the year for the United States.

[Image: Sima on her bike]

Sima Trapp
Photo: Marcia Franklin

Boise has also nurtured several professional racers, including Remi McManus, who won the National Elite Road Race Championship in 2001. Other pro riders include Olympian Kristin Armstrong, Liza Rachetto and Sima Trapp. All were inspired by the Women's Challenge, an elite road race for women that wound its way through Idaho every summer for 19 years. The event ended in 2003 when it failed to find a sponsor.

"I got to be elbow to elbow with the world's best," says Sima Trapp of Team Colavita. " It was really, really hard, but it made me want to get better."

[Image: Jim Rabdau, founder of the Women's Challenge]

Jim Rabdau, founder of the Women's Challenge

"The first one I watched was in '84 when I was just a kid, says Liza Rachetto of TEAm Lipton. "I saw these women riding bikes around the Capitol and I took pictures of that and put them up in my doll house."

"If you can believe that girl can ride that bike that fast, that far, maybe you'll believe she's also a college graduate and she's going to be a leader," says Jim Rabdau, founder of the Women's Challenge. "You'll believe the rest of the story. That's what it's about."

Today, Armstrong, Rachetto and Trapp race all over the world, but love coming back to Idaho.

[Image: Liza Rachetto]

"I love being in Idaho," says Rachetto. "The terrain, the types of climbing we can do right outside of Boise. Most of the women used to come out of Colorado, and it's kind of an elitist place to live. But I like being from here. You know, the hardest part of my year is traveling to California to train because I have to leave here and battle the traffic down there."

[Image: Kristin Armstrong]

"Idaho offers me so much as a cyclist," says Armstrong. "There is the terrain, the beautiful weather. It's very mild. I think it's a big secret that we have. I can't imagine anywhere else around the nation that would offer what Idaho does."

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