Glenwood Springs cyclist rides into Hall of Fame
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Jeanne Golay will be inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame this fall on Sunday, Nov. 2. The Glenwood Springs resident is a former world champion and two-time Olympic team member. Golay will be joined by three others – Cheri Elliott, Mike Plant and Jimmy Walthour – in the induction class of 2008 in the ceremony held in Davis, Calif.
“It’s very flattering, I’m totally honored,” Golay said. “I hadn’t really thought about it, so I was pleasantly surprised. I’m just really thrilled to be included with some of my peers and inspirations of the sport, guys that were cycling in the 1920s and ’30s. It’s an honor.”She joins an elite group of cycling pioneers including Connie Carpenter-Phinney, Juliana Furtado, Greg LeMond and Chris Carmichael.Golay was nominated based on her extensive cycling resume spanning 15 years, including nine national titles, five World Championships medals, and the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games. She is the only American to contest three cycling events in one Olympics, when she rode the individual road race, time trial and points race in the 1996 Atlanta Games. She also is a national record-holder in the team time trial. Her bronze medal in the 1994 World Championships was the last time an American has medaled in the Worlds road race. Her career total of five World road championships medals is the most ever for an American cyclist, man or woman. Golay was introduced to the sport as a college freshman while attending the University of Florida in Gainesville. A Floridian by birth, Golay joined her sister on a ride with her touring club and fell in love with it almost instantaneously.”I just fell in love with it,” Golay admitted. “I started riding with her and her friends in the touring club, and I really liked the road riding in Gainesville, it was just great there. Being in a new environment after I grew up in south Florida, I loved the landscape, the rolling hills, etc. The environment was just really conducive for biking.”That it is a great method of fitness also spurred her enthusiasm.
“The physical effects just really encouraged me to keep it up,” Golay added. “I had packed on the ‘freshman 15’ and through biking I was noticing a nice change.” What Golay enjoyed most about riding remains the freedom, the camaraderie and the travel that it brought to her constantly.”There’s just a lot of things that I enjoy about it,” Golay insisted. “I like the pace, it’s pleasant. It’s very stimulating, and I really enjoy the scenery,” she added. “Being able to ride next to somebody and talk, the social aspect of it is really stimulating to me.”She credits much of her success to riding local trails. These days, the recently completed Rio Grande Trail, the Forest Hollow Trail on Lookout Mountain and of course the Jeanne Golay Trail on Red Mountain are the sites she frequents most often. Golay also likes riding through Missouri Heights, Crystal Springs, Hawk Ridge and Aspen Glen.Golay moved to Colorado from Florida in 1990. She credits high-altitude training and telemark skiing as key elements of her success. “I was a good, national-level rider when I moved here, but living and training year-round in the mountains made me a world-beater,” Golay said.
With any competitive sport there are always challenges that come with being a professional. Her training was extensive, with an average of 500 miles per week while riding three to six hours a day. Each daily training session consisted of a hard ride in the morning for a couple of hours and then a recovery ride in the afternoon. She calculated that she probably rode 18,000 miles a year on her bike during her peak training days.Another difficulty that came with competing professionally was the uncertainty of corporate sponsors from year to year. The constant shifting of sponsors from sport to sport made it hard for professional cyclists like Golay to rely upon sponsors for the necessary funds year in and year out.”Just that uncertainty, not knowing how good of a living you were going to make at it from year to year made it difficult,” revealed Golay. Yet she was able to make it work. Golay was the No. 1 ranked American woman cyclist from 1992-96. She retired after the ’96 Olympics and now works as a marketing consultant in Glenwood Springs. She lives with her 8-year-old son Lucca and husband, Ralph Trapani. “I think I retired at the right time, I wasn’t really burned out on my bike and can still do it,” she added. “I think it’s a wonderful sport that you can do your entire life. You can do an easy ride or hard ride, you can go out there on your own or with a friend, enjoy the scenery … It’s wonderful.”
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