Nevada County cyclist Mina Ricci conquers world’s longest paved ride
While spending time in Hawaii earlier this year, local cyclist Mina Ricci challenged herself like never before.
“It was the single hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life,” said Ricci.
In January, the up and coming cyclist braved what is known as the “world’s longest paved ride” located on Mt. Haleakala on the island of Maui. The course takes cyclists on a nearly 34.48 mile ride that rises 9,710 feet in elevation along the way.
Ricci, 19, not only completed the daunting ride — she did it twice. The first time was for fun. The second time was record setting.
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“After doing the full climb once, we thought with my time, I might be able to beat the record holder,” Ricci recalled. “Might as well just go try it.”
Ricci, who won multiple mountain biking state championships during her prep racing career, calculated the pace needed and began charging up the volcano.
“It proved to be a pretty challenging near the end,” said Ricci “I almost quit twice. At about hour 2 I didn’t think I would finish. I could barely move my legs.”
Ricci pushed the through the exhaustion and reached the summit in a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes, the fastest ever by a female rider. Her time was more than eight minutes faster than the previous record, according to http://www.Strava.com.
“When I got to the top and we saw that I had pushed through, with the encouragement of my friend and support from my parents who were driving alongside, there was a moment of celebrations. But then I was like ‘Wow, I’m really tired.’”
Ricci bested the time of Canadian cyclist and Olympic medalist Catharine Pendrel, who had previously set the standard in 2017 with a time of 3:10:20.
The record-setting ride was a great start to the year for Ricci, who competes for Rogue Racing. But, there have been few highlights since as the cross-country racing season has been halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ricci, now in her second season racing cross-country professionally, competed in just one event in mid-March before the 2020 season was suspended. She earned a top-10 finish in that race.
“It’s definitely been interesting, motivation-wise,” she said. “You put in so much work training for the season and then all of a sudden the season is gone. So you have to keep up this high level of performance and motivation with no idea when you’re going to use your strength again.”
Ricci noted the cycling community as a whole has been a good source of support during the hiatus.
“The cycling community is close knit and been very good about hyping each other up and keeping each other motivated,” Ricci said.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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