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By Neal Reid
PikesPeakSports.us

Apparently, the couple that races together wins together.

Nick and Tracy Thelen turned in impressive performances in the Ascent Cycling Series finale at Bear Creek Park Wednesday evening to earn series victories in their respective classes. Nick finished second in the finale to hold onto the single-speed men’s class title, while Tracy won the finale to easily take home the women’s professional/Category 1 championship.

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Wednesday race results here!

The five-race series, which began June 5, concluded at the park’s 2.5-mile course, with more than 100 riders competing in nearly 20 classes. The two-month series also included races at Palmer Park and Cheyenne Mountain State Park.

Tracy, who began competing in 2008, finished well clear of Kelly Neville in the series standings and was all smiles after the race.

“Today, I think I raced pretty smart,” said Tracy, who works as a physical therapist for the elderly. “Overall, for the series, I liked the way Andy (Bohlmann) did it with the three different venues. It was a good mix.”

For Nick, the experience of competing in the series was a pleasant one, especially with the standings staying tight thanks to solid performances by second-place finisher Ian Broughton and Travis Ekenberg.

“I didn’t ride very smart today, and I tend to go out really, really hard trying to gain fitness,” said Nick, a mechanical engineer at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “(The standings) have been close all season, and we had a good race the whole series. It keeps it interesting and keeps it honest.”

The Thelens, who have been married for six years and ride for Pro Cycling, also swept their classes last year in the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, and Nick said each year their anniversary consists of a trip to the 24 Hours in the Sage race in Gunnison.

Being able to share a sport helps keep the husband-and-wife tandem close.

“It’s a lot more fun to be able to go out and ride with him, and racing is the secondary part,” said Tracy, who won three of the series’ five races. “To be able to withdraw, go into the mountains and say, ‘Let’s go explore that trail’ is more of the benefit for us.”

Having the same passion can also, however, test a couple’s patience.

“It’s good and bad,” said Nick, who won two series races. “Sometimes, being around each other all the time, you need some alone time every once in a while. But we make that happen and get along pretty well.”

J.J. Clark won the men’s professional/Category 1 class, with Cameron Chambers – who was out of action with several broken vertebrae suffered in a nasty fall earlier in the summer – finishing second. Not being able to compete against the highly decorated Chambers was a bit of a downer for Clark.

“It’s a little bittersweet because it’s kind of a bummer that Cameron couldn’t race,” said Clark, who also rides for Pro Cycling. “But, it’s always nice to win the local stuff. To mix it up, I ran the single-speed tonight, so that added a little bit of a challenge.

“I picked kind of a bad gear, but it was still a fun race.”

Tracy, who had wrapped up her series title before Wednesday’s finale, said she set a specific goal for herself before the race.

“My goal was to not get lapped by J.J., but I did not meet that goal,” Tracy said. “He caught me on my last lap.”

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