USA Cycling's Best New Club from 2013 races forward with growth and big energy


by Amanda H. Miller
A racing team with 30 active members, two weekly group rides, regular clinics, well-run racing series and a recognized name has to be a long-established club, right? Wrong.
Paradise Garage Racing isn’t even two years old yet. And the really impressive thing is that the Columbus, Ohio team was just as strong last fall as it is today. That’s why the team won the USA Cycling's distinction for "Best New Club" in the 2013 Club of the Year awards.
There are other racing teams in central Ohio, said Taylor Kruse, president of PG Racing. But none of them had the right combination of support, encouragement and competitiveness that he and three other founding members wanted.
The friends all rode with different teams and none of them felt much of a connection with their teammates. They ended up training together most of the time and decided to form an official USA Cycling club. The team races in all disciplines, but has some extra emphasis on cyclo-cross and mountain biking.
Dan Monning, one of the founding members, owns the cycling shop Paradise Garage with his wife. The shop agreed to sponsor the team.
From the very beginning, the team was focused on development and building the cyclists who joined into even better athletes.
“What we do is a little different,” Kruse said. “We work hard to create a positive and encouraging culture to help people get better. Our goal, basically, is to increase the quality and the quantity of competitive cycling in central Ohio.”
To that end, the club hosted three days of cyclo-cross racing, including a two-day race and a one-day race that doubled as the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship.
This year, the team hosted a USA Cycling sanctioned practice series and eight days of cyclo-cross training.
“The biggest thing we saw was that making it a little more formal and organized, we were able to get about 20 people in who hadn’t raced before,” Kruse said. “By the time the practice series finished, they’d competed in at least one race and had some confidence.”
Opening the team up to the community and cultivating new talent is one of its biggest focuses, said Chris Ardnt, an event coordinator for the team.
“This team grew really organically,” Arndt said. “There’s a large number of people in Columbus who cycle, but not many who race. We want to get people out who like the idea of riding bikes and show them racing isn’t that intimidating if you’re riding with friends and have someone there to mentor you.”
The team goes on serious training rides every Tuesday.
“Everybody from the team attends those,” Arndt said.
On Thursdays, the rides are open to anyone who wants to come. It’s a good way to get new people involved in the sport.
Of the 30 or so team members, only a third are Category 3 or higher in any of the disciplines. The rest are entry-level cyclists.
“The team is not just for elite people,” Arndt said “A big focus for the team is development and helping cyclists improve.”
The team continues its Tuesday and Thursday rides through the winter. Even when there is snow on the ground and riding outdoors is questionable, the team has massive turnouts for its indoor training sessions.
“Anyone with anything that has two wheels on it can bring it in and the shop will provide them with a free trainer,” Arndt said.
Those winter training sessions are held at Paradise Garage, which creates a lot of buzz for the shop, Arndt said. The glass windows are filled with activity those nights.

One sure sign of PG Racing’s rapid development from a fledgling startup into an established club is that it’s already inspired the creation of a new women’s team - The Lady Gnar Shredders.
Many members of this women’s team still compete on both teams, including Lauren Kraft, who was among the original cyclists on the PG Racing team.
“I feel like PG has helped me to feel more comfortable riding,” Kraft said. “For example, I ride expert for mountain biking now. That’s definitely one of my biggest accomplishments. Even when I’m not doing well, I’m proud of myself for being at that level.”
Kraft said she was already friends with a lot of the PG Racing crew, so it was easy to fall in with the team when it got started.
“I feel like my friends there really challenge me to do better,” she said. “When you ride with the best you definitely get better.”
But she wanted to be part of the women’s team as well, because there are times when she wants something different and she always wants to be able to help others feel included and to help them rise to their potential.
“Sometimes it’s intimidating to ride with people you know are faster than you,” she said. “And it can be hard to find a training ride you don’t feel like you’ll get dropped from.”
The Lady Gnar Shredders are focused on bringing new recruits into racing and developing strong female riders. PG Racing grew very easily and organically, Kraft said.
The women’s team has dedicated a lot more energy to recruitment, but in doing so has also helped to develop new female racers quickly. The new women’s team took a page out of PG Racing’s book for a strong start and rapid ascent.

This Article Updated November 13, 2014 @ 02:35 PM For more information contact: