Masters Nats Day 1: Tucson’s Melinda Berge defends 2 championships

USA Cycling’s Masters Road National Championships are underway this weekend in Ogden, Utah where a handful of Arizona cyclists are hoping to bring home medals and top placings among the best in the nation.

But they didn’t have to wait very long – Tucson’s Melinda Berge (Summit Velo) secured two national championships on Day 1, defending her wins from last year.

The 71-year-old, who recovered from a nasty crash in 2014 at the Tucson Bicycle Classic circuit race, got back on her bike, trained and blew away her competition Thursday in both the individual time trial and the road race. Berge is a world champion masters time trialist.

“I feel a big advantage for me is that I can ride, train hard and race in Tucson in the winter and spring and then I go to Park City, Utah, where we also have a home in mid-June,” Berge said. “That gave me the advantage of being at altitude for the summer and able to pre-ride the Masters courses which are an hour’s drive from my home.”

Her wins weren’t even close – Berge beat the next rider, Dee Samuels (ol’ Republic/SHO-AIR), by more than an hour in the road race and topped Samuels in the ITT by a minute and 42 seconds.

“I was much stronger this year,” Berge said. “At my age, it’s really nice to feel that it is possible to keep getting better.”

Berge’s teammate, Gary Sax, said she is an “absolutely competitive racer.”

“She takes every race seriously and trains hard for all of them,” Sax said. “She thrives on competition but is able to be friends with all the women she races against – really an extraordinary person.”

More Arizona results: 

Road Race Masters Women 60-64

3rd – Martha Stedman (Southwest Hand Cycling Team)

Road Race Masters Men 65-69

4th – Philip Holman (Southwest Hand Cycling Team)

Road Race Masters Men 55 Cat 1/2/3

11th – David Beirne (Team RPM p/b Bicycle Ranch)

30th – Joel Thompson (Southwest Hand Cycling Team)

Road Race Masters Women 45-49

12th – Simona Garabino (Two-Wheel Jones Racing)

Road Race Masters Men 50-54 Cat 1/2/3

15th – Gerry Clapper (FASTER)

Full results

Sarah Muench