Wendy Skean of Nathrop won a national championship at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals Thursday in Winter Park.
Skean, who turned 75 on July 3, won the women’s 75-plus division, pedaling the roughly 9.6-mile race, which featured about 1,400 feet of climbing, in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 53 seconds.
“I was very pleased I was able to go as hard as I could and my body held up,” Skean said. “I got the stars and stripes (jersey), and it’s a good feeling.”
Skean said she normally rides her mountain bike between 20 and 30 miles when she heads out. She said some of her favorite local trails include Chicken Dinner and Cottonwood, but she’s mostly trained around Nathrop on some good, steep hills.
“I knew that’s what I needed,” she said. “Now that I don’t have (any more races planned) until August, maybe I can have more fun.”
Recently, she also competed at a 12-hour race near the Royal Gorge.
She said the shorter race at the championship was “unusual” for her.
“It was new to me,” Skean said. “It was short and intense, so I went all out from the get-go.”
Approximately 100 masters-level bikers started at the same time as Skean, 70 male and 30 female. She said the course, which she looped twice, started with a good climb featuring some steep sections followed by some semi-technical single-track. After that were a level area and a rebuilt section that was “nice and swoopy and fun” and then finished with some “semi-challenging” single-track.
“I really enjoyed the course,” she said. “I said go as hard you can for as long as you can, and it worked out well.”
Skean also competed in the National Off-Road Bicycle Association’s national championships in 2001 in Mammoth, California, when she was 57. Skean won a title then as well.
“It’s always nice to go to the national championships, and (this year) it was only three hours from my house so I figured, why not?” Skean said. “I hope they have it there next year.”
Salidan Raymond Ferbrache also competed at the national competition. Ferbrache finished second in the male 75-79 division with a time of 1:42:13.
Only a few other women around Skean’s age were up to the challenge, the closest finishing 4 minutes behind Skean.
“I’d like to encourage more women to give it a try,” Skean said. “I used to run, but my knees didn’t like it. Cycling is the easiest on the body.”