I've been regretting writing this post for the last couple weeks, but it must be done. Three of Missoula's finest cyclists are off to Seattle. MT Cross Field Reporter Joe Chalmers, his wife Danyel, and their baby Peyton are heading to Seattle. Along with the Chalmers crew is Toby Meirerbachtol. Each one of these riders deserves a post on their own, but that's dragging it out too much for me. Instead I'm going to recite my fondest memory of each cyclist.
First Danyel. The first time I saw Danyel race was in cyclocross. I knew she was going to be good. With her cross country running background and Longmire being her dad she couldn't go wrong. In those first couple races we chatted a bit and I asked her about racing and cross. She said that she liked to ride on her own, like in cross country running. Then without hesitation she said she loved the pain that cyclocross gave her. Ok, I said to myself, we've got a winner. The following year Danyel had her beautiful baby Peyton. She was kind of forgotten about until this year where she jumped back into the road scene. To me her true coming of age as a racer was her performance at the Tour of Bitterroot Crit. She powered a breakaway, and dominated an event that only a couple years ago would have scared the crap out of her. It's been a pleasure to watch her develop as a racer, and get to know her on a personal level.
Toby is the fatest racer who races the least. If you want a good workout go riding with Toby. He is the fastest person I've ever ridden cross or mountain with. He puts you in Davey Jones Locker on the first climb of the day on every ride. I first met Toby at an introduction meeting for UM Cycling in 2005. He joined the road team and raced A's all year after not really riding at all. He helped Josh win the collegiate title and placed 8th overall for the series. In the Fall, for UM Cycling we used to ride mtb as an introduction/fun ride. Toby came out on a mountain ride the week after we met him. There was 10-15 riders and the pace was easy heading up the Rattlesnake. Pipo was with, and while Pipo is a good teacher there were several hot shots on this ride and the competitive edge took both him and me over. We immediately turned up the 'Burn' (Missoula folks know what I'm talking about, straight up for 3/4 of a mile). Pipo smiled and launched off the front. I was second wheel and immediately lost his wheel but tried to ride within my limits........besides who else would be with us??? They are all newbies. Sure enough this red haired ball of furry passes me says I'm looking good while barely breathing and closes the gap to Pipo in 10 seconds. I thought to myself her we go again another Dale/Pipo type guy who doesn't train and has the power of f-ing Fabian Cancellara. Toby and I became pretty good friends over the past couple years. He is one of the most complete riders I know. I still remember when he won the State Downhill Championship out of nowhere.
MT Cross Field Reporter Joe Chalmers is an all around nice guy. Everyone in the Montana peleton would say that Joe is the nicest guy in the bunch. He rides with class and is extremely humble about his achievements. I have been lucky enough to race besides Joe for three seasons, and really seen him develop as a cyclist. The story I remember most about Joe is my first race encounter with him. I was riding for UM Cycling and had just joined NRO. I didn't know anyone on the team and didn't have a jersey so I rocked the UM kit at the Belt Omnium. We raced the 4's in a typical windy Great Falls race. The pack trimmed to 12 riders. I looked around to access the group. Since I'd been racing collegiate I had no idea who any of these dudes were. I saw Joe, tall, muscular, very serious look. I pinned him as the strongest. He looked very intimidating. Up the hill we went and the group shattered. Curry pushed the tempo and I found myself with Joe and John in a breakaway 7 miles from the finish. Since they were both on the same team and I was intimidated by Joe I was a little nervous they were going to gang up on me (Little did they know we were all on the same team I was just intimidated to say anything). We chatted amongst the three of us and Joe and John were super nice. They encouraged me and I had a great time. The racing was great but what I really remember was afterwards at the awards ceremony Joe made a point of finding me. He told me that I was strong and we should ride together more in Missoula. People say that type of stuff all the time in cycling but think of the context for me. I had just raced in Montana for the first time with a USCF field and the guy I had picked out as the strongest in the race complimented me. It was a big deal for me and I'll never forget it. Joe will be missed by NRO, but more importantly the Montana Cycling Community. He brought a positive attitude and inspired people to race. He talked to everyone, and was always very complimentary. We'll miss you Joe.
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