Off to the Races

The Colorado Classic bike race this month will showcase women only. Meet two of the riders.

Courtesy Snowy Mountain

When the riders take off for the third annual Colorado Classic bike race on Aug. 22 (coloradoclassic.com), they’ll be leaving the men behind. In this year’s four-day race, one of the premier women-only races in the country, 20 teams will cover a total of 220 miles, with four host cities: Avon, Steamboat, Golden, and Denver. Five of those riders will be part of the ALP Cycles Racing team, a Boulder-based cross-country and road racing team of 28 members founded by retired professional cyclist Alison Powers three years ago to promote women’s amateur racing and teach the art of bike racing as a team. Powers is the only person to have won the road race, time trial, and criterium National Championship titles in one year (2014). We talked with two of her ALP Cycles Racing team, Cory Popovich, a change agent for the Hartford Insurance Co., and Andrea Buttine, a music teacher at the Vail Mountain School, about what it’s like to train for the Colorado Classic.

How did you get into bicycling?
Cory: “When I started doing triathlons about 12 years ago, I was a runner but didn’t know how to swim and didn’t own a bike. I started riding and progressed from sprint triathlons to two full-distance Ironmans. I really liked biking so decided to explore bike racing.”
Andrea: “I used to live in Dallas, and around 2011-12, I started riding my bike—an ancient steel-frame Fuji—around White Rock Lake, just for the sake of being healthy. I ended up passing this woman on a hill, and she called me ‘Speedy’ and joked about how I was dropping her so easily; we got to talking, and she told me about Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. If you sign up, you help do fundraising but in exchange, you get support training. It turned out that cycling was natural for me, and I ended up doing a century ride in California. I started racing in 2012.”

How did you become part of Alison’s team?
Cory: “I joined the team when Alison created it three years ago. She saw a need to develop women’s cycling at the amateur level and really teach the art of bike racing as a team, which I had never done. I wanted to be a part of that.”
Andrea: “After moving to Colorado in 2015, I rode for another team, but in 2017, after ALP Cycles was formed, I joined it. I like that there are a lot of really strong women riders on the team committed to coming to races. It’s better to race when you have multiple ways to succeed, whether that is helping your sprinter get to the front at the end or helping another teammate who can climb better. We all respect each other’s abilities.”

Courtesy Snowy Mountain

Why do you like cycling in particular?
Cory: “It’s very freeing, and I like to go great distances on my bike, particularly in Colorado, and see the beautiful areas we live in. I feel like I can do a one-day vacation on my bike on the weekend just riding to different places.”
Andrea: “I think everybody likes to do things they feel good at, but a big thing for me is that I met my husband through biking in Dallas and he and I ride together. We’ll go on training rides and he’ll come to races.”

Describe how you train with the team and plan for races.
Cory: “We come up with a game plan and then work to execute that. We often have a plan A, B, and C, because things don’t always work out the way you think they will. Alison is my coach, and she put together a plan to make me as physically and mentally ready as possible for the Classic.”
Andrea: “The team has a training ride at least two times a month, and there’s plenty of unofficial opportunities as well. It’s always more fun to train with people. When we’re in season, I’d say on average I ride between nine and 12 hours a week. On my own, I have workouts that my coach, Patty, gives me to follow. I talk to Patty at the beginning of the season about my goals, including which races I want to do well in, and she’ll craft my training so I peak around certain races. She’ll give me some really, really hard weeks and mix in some rest weeks. One of my goal races this year is the Colorado Classic.”