Cycling club duo compete as lone females on the team

 
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BY TATUM ROCHIN —

Bikers

Lindsay Dye, a sophomore exercise science major and Jacque Povalitis, a senior also majoring in exercise science, are the only two women on the NAU Cycling team. (Photo by Andrea Sanchez)

In a sport primarily made up of male riders, women are taking the handles at Northern Arizona University. Jacque Povilaitis and Lindsay Dye are two female racers who compete consistently in the mountain biking events.

Povilaitis, a senior exercise science major from Tucson, has been cycling for about three years and took up mountain biking a year and a half ago. She has known that she’s wanted to come to NAU since the 6th grade.

“I really enjoy Flagstaff and I like that it’s so outdoor oriented,” Povilaitis said “If you’re active, this is the perfect place for you.”

And active she is. Not only is Povilaitis a full-time student on the cycling club working three jobs, she is also a triathlete, and was vice president of the Trijacks (a NAU triathlete club) last year.

Her teammate from Colorado, Dye is a sophomore and also an exercise science major. Dye has been cycling for five years and, needless to say, it runs in the family.

“My parents were big racers so that got me interested in it,” Dye said. “They were both semi-pros at one time and now they ride for fun.”

Both women are also familiar with the dangers mountain biking poses. Dye has broken her collarbone twice and even knocked herself out once.

“I went off a jump going downhill and I think I landed right on my head,” Dye said. “And I broke my collarbone in a race in Colorado.”

Although both racers have suffered serious injuries, they have not been deterred from the sport.

“I’ve had more crashes than I can count and a lot of scars and bruises,” Povilaitis said. “But luckily I’ve never had anything bad enough to scare me away from it.”

Povilaitis and Dye represented NAU at the Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships in Angel Fire, N.M. last semester. Dye had a great finish in the short track event, finishing 10th, and really appreciated the intensity of the crowd during the race.

“My favorite event was short rack because the crowd cheering for us was outstanding,” Dye said.

Povilaitis competed in short track as well, finishing 16th. She also enjoyed the atmosphere of the tournament and being able to hang out with her teammates.

“Short track was a lot of fun,” Povilaitis said. “Pre-riding the course was really fun too because there was no pressure and you just go out there with your friends and get a feel for it.”

Both ladies are aiming to compete at the 2013 Collegiate Mountain Bike Championships but before they get there, Povilaitis has an obstacle to face: getting into graduate school.

“I’m applying for grad school here at NAU in February, so hopefully I’ll get in,” Povilaitis said. “If possible I would like to race in nationals again as a grad student.”

Dye is also preparing for some upcoming races this semester. She is participating in the White Tank race in Waddell, Ariz. This race is sanctioned by USA Cycling and is part of the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA).

“I’ve never done an MBAA race and I need something to get me in shape so I figured it would be fun,” Dye said.

Along with her personal goals to do well in races this year, Dye is also focusing on bettering the cycling community in Flagstaff.

“I’m coaching a junior team, and my goal is to be more involved with that,” Dye said. “I really want to be a promoter for youth cycling. I’m currently involved with the Arizona High School Cycling League and we’re trying to get a team started in Flagstaff.”

Povilaitis and Dye agree that mountain biking is not an easy sport, but they do encourage people to try it out.

“Cycling is hard at first but once you get over that hump . . . it’s a lot of fun once you’re not crashing every single ride,” Povilaitis said.

“It’s really hard,” Dye said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities out there for youth cyclists. But more and more are coming with this development of the Arizona High School Cycling League and USA Cycling is doing some awesome developmental rider camps.”

Trying to build a sense of community is nothing new for the NAU cycling club, and they are grateful for any help that is given to them.

“The club is getting more involved in the community and we’re getting more people involved in doing trail building and trail maintenance,” Povilaitis said. “We’re trying to make a difference in the Flagstaff mountain biking scene. It’s important for us to give back.”

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