Hall of champions

Dolores cyclist vows to tryout for 2016 Olympics

DOLORES TOWN MANAGER Ryan Mahoney presents a national champion jersey to Lauren Hall on Oct. 23, at Town Hall. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

DOLORES TOWN MANAGER Ryan Mahoney presents a national champion jersey to Lauren Hall on Oct. 23, at Town Hall.

Dolores welcomed home a national champion athlete last week.

A party was thrown for three-time national champ and Olympic hopeful cyclist Lauren Hall on Oct. 23.

Hall autographed pictures of herself winning an indoor track national championship recently and was presented a national champion jersey by Dolores Town Manager Ryan Mahoney.

Since then, Hall has been speaking at local schools about her career as a professional cyclist and riding the local roads to stay in shape during the offseason.

The Star caught up with this busy cyclist recently and she answered some questions.

How old are you and where did you come from?

Iím 33 and Iím from Vicksburg, Miss., ....home of the civil war.

What is your most recent accomplishment on your bike?

My most recent accomplishment is winning two track national championships within 30 minutes of each other. Or even more recent, talking to Dolores schools, and hopefully motivating the older kids and getting the younger ones excited about bikes.

How fast can you ride your bike?

I can average, by myself, around 21-23 mph on the road bike. On the track bike, when I won my national championship, I was averaging around 30 mph for almost four minutes.... OW!

What kind of bike do you ride?

I ride a Specialized SL4 Amira road bike and for my time trial bike, I ride a Specialized Shiv, they are the top of the line womenís bikes from that company. My track bike is a Jamis Sonic.

What was your top finishing races in Europe?

Most of the time, I was working for one of my teammates, who was trying to make the Olympic squad but at the end of the season when I had the opportunity to get a result, I was second overall at Giro della Toscana, a race in Italy.

What is your most memorable experience of Europe racing?

My most memorable experience of Europe, would have to be the spring races. They are the hardest of cycling races because, it is the spring, itís cold, wet and we are usually racing over some sort of cobblestones. Iím also racing against girls that excel that time of year based on their size, meaning most of those girls were a lot taller than me and a lot more intimidating. When I only raced in the US the previous year, I only crashed once the entire year. When I raced in Belgium and Holland for three weeks this past spring, I crashed three times!! Ouch...

Hardest part about racing in Europe?

The hardest part of racing is a culmination of travel, depth of the field sizes and small roads. Traveling to Europe takes at least 3-5 days as an athlete to acclimate to wherever we travel, to get over jet lag, to get the legs moving again after sitting on a plane for eight hours, etc. Then, the depth of the fields are a lot greater in Europe, the girls grew up racing bikes, whereas most US riders came from different sports ó I came from soccer. On top of those factors, the roads are small, their highways are our 2-lane roads. Most races have up to 180-200 riders racing 25 mph down these muddy, cobblestone, small roads ó itís intense!

What does the future hold? Olympics?

Iím hoping in the future, I will win more national championships ó road and track ó which will lead to world championships that are held every year. Iím also committed for another four years to hopefully make it for the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Why train and live in Dolores?

I live in Dolores because of Michael Engleman. He had a womenís development program that was based out of Dolores. So, I moved here to be coached by him directly. Dolores is close enough to Durango for flying or any other needs that Cortez or Dolores may not meet. It is quieter here, a bit less traffic in the summer from all the tourists. I train here because of the altitude and the roads. The ride from Dolores to Telluride is one of the hardest rides Iíve ever done, because you have to cross over Lizard Head Pass at 10,000-feet, there isnít a lot of oxygen at that altitude. That helps me when I head to races that are at sea level, because there is plenty of oxygen and I can use less energy than most riders, because Iíve trained at altitude.

What other sports do you play?

I grew up playing soccer, basketball, tennis and running track. I enjoy disc golf in Cortez when I can get there. There is also bike polo that some guys play in Cortez during the summer, I would like to try that sometime. I enjoy walking and hiking in the mountains, and seeing places Iíve never seen that are right in my backyard.

Do you have any fitness tips for us regular folk?

Start slow! Many people jump into an extensive workout and are too sore to continue, but if you take it a little bit at a time to where it almost feels too easy, you are doing it right. Most important part of staying fit is the food you fuel yourself with and the rest you get at night. Try to get a fruit and/or vegetable in at every meal, drink plenty of water, especially here because it is so dry and high altitude. Try to get as much rest as possible, sleep is the best recovery for your body and muscles.

How should drivers treat cyclists on the road?

Drivers should see cyclists as slow moving cars. A lot of cars get frustrated with cyclists, but I try to ask the drivers, ĎThink of us as tractors. You donít mind slowing down for a tractor and passing when it is safe.í This is my office, the roads of Montezuma County, people think it is funny to drive close to a cyclist, but that is my life you are putting in jeopardy. The only protection from a car I have is my jersey and my helmet. Iíve had friends and teammates hit by cars and killed, it is very scary. But I love my job and I will do my best to stay to the right of the road as possible for drivers, and I hope in return, they will safely pass me with only a minor interruption in their short drive.

A little known fact about you?

My grandfather played for the first (San Francisco) 49ers (NFL) team and (the then) Cleveland Rams. In 1939, he was the No. 1 draft choice, Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and was All-Pro. He was also the MVP in the 1939 All-Star game. He is my inspiration to be a professional athlete. I attended Culinary Arts School at Le Cordon Bleu, Austin, Texas, and I worked in child nutrition for MS (multiple sclerosis) for five years. I have a biological sciences (bachelors) degree from Mississippi State University and a masters degree from Belhaven College, Jackson, Miss.

Anything else?

Thank you Dolores for all of your support, please keep your eyes open for me on the road, I usually wave.

shannonl@doloresstar.com.

EVAN LAMUNYON, 7, waits, as professional cyclist Lauren Hall signs an autograph Oct. 23, during a welcome-back celebration for the hometown national champion. Enlargephoto

SHANNON LIVICK/STAR

EVAN LAMUNYON, 7, waits, as professional cyclist Lauren Hall signs an autograph Oct. 23, during a welcome-back celebration for the hometown national champion.