A road trip to Iowa doesn't exactly sound life-changing. At least that's what Ryan Lenhart thought when he loaded up with friends for a 2007 Memorial Day weekend journey.
Prior to accepting the invitation, Lenhart was a casual bicyclist more interested in riding to stay in shape than anything else. But by the time he was done in Iowa, the Stillwater native had an entirely different perspective.
"Basically, they had to talk me into going up there and it ended up being a total blast," said Lenhart. "I won all four of the races I entered and I just fell in love with the sport."
Although he had been into cycling since 2001, he never participated in any kind of race before the Iowa venture. The unexpected success he experienced that weekend proved inspiring.
"Everything felt right. I was comfortable in that (racing) environment and it really felt pretty natural to me," said Lenhart, who won the first 10 Category 5 (novice) races he entered.
Two years later, Lenhart has dedicated himself to cycling. Not only has he advanced to Category 3 racing, the 27-year-old is also the general manager of Bicycle Alley, a full-service bike shop located downtown.
In fact, he is one of the three riders for Bicycle Alley Racing, which was officially launched in February. Lenhart and fellow racers Zach Perkins and Chad Hodges have helped put their new team on the fast lane to success.
"We've been very competitive," said Bicycle Alley owner Terry Enos.
Enos was involved in the telecommunications industry for almost 20 years before acting on his dream of opening up a local bike shop in 2007. These days, Bicycle Alley has regular customers from around the corner and as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia.
"Ryan is a big part of what we do here," Enos said. "He has really involved himself in the business and the sport, and been successful doing so."
Along with Perkins and Hodges, Lenhart is excited about the prospects of their budding team. He believes the trio has only begun to scratch the surface over the last few months.
Lenhart's only regret?
"I wish I had found racing earlier. I love it that much. It really fits my demeanor and being someone who grew up playing sports all my life, I love the competition," said Lenhart, who rides a Specialized S-Works Tarmac.
Events range from 80-mile road races to shorter, more aggressive criterium races. "Jay C. Upchurch