Dominque Danco ’13 Likes Hills

Dominique Danco ’13 has gone through a few sets of tires this year—not for her car, but rather for her Cannondale.

Dominique caught the cycling bug in July of 2010 when she sat down with her dad to watch one of the stages of that year’s Tour de France. She was hooked. “I started watching more stages, and it got more exciting with each one,” she said.

After the 2010 Tour ended, Dominique began scouring the Internet and cycling magazines for more about the sport. She watched every race she could find, mostly on cycling websites. “You can’t find the Tour of Turkey on TV,” she explained. Dominique even convinced Groton School Librarian Steve Marchand to acquire a school subscription to ProCycling magazine.

It was near the end of that summer that Dominique borrowed her neighbor’s road bike and went out for a few rides. “My dad and I did a couple of 30-mile rides, and then did a metric century [100 kilometers],” she explained. “It was very slow, very cold, and very wet, but we did it.”

Back on the Circle, Dominique continued playing field hockey, squash, and lacrosse. She went to a couple of road races and cycle-cross races as a spectator with faculty member Bert Hall and his wife
Marci Titus—two former competitive cyclists.

“There was one moment at one of those races with the Halls when I knew I was hooked,” she said. “I wedged myself into a spot on the last corner in a criterion race. It was amazing how the riders flew around the corner so fast.”

After a few conversations with Mr. Hall, Dominique decided that she would try a FSA (Faculty Sponsored Activity) in lieu of field hockey the next fall. That summer she rode on group rides with the local bike shop in Burlington, VT. “I got my butt kicked and dropped on every hill, but I loved it,” she said.

Dominique soon found that her passion for the sport as a spectator carried over as a participant. Still, Dominique admits her first race was not what she expected. “It was not as great as I thought it would be. There were only six of us, it was cold, and there was a really hard, long hill,” she said. “It was a disappointment.” Undeterred, Dominique entered another race that spring, which left a much better impression. “It was exactly what I had hoped for. There were 45 racers, a crash which I narrowly avoided, and I finished second,” she said.

That passion was further stoked when she attended nationals in Atlanta, Georgia that June. “My goal was to beat at least one person in each of the three races,” she said. She achieved that goal and then some, finishing 24th out of 25 in the time trial, 23rd out of 25 in the criterion, and 20th out of 25 in the road race.

A typical week finds Dominique on her bike for anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. In the fall, she races cycle-cross, in which participants ride road bikes off road, have to leap off the bike and carry it over obstacles, and have a tendency to get very dirty.

“The crowds at cycle-cross races are amazing,” Dominique said. “There are so many people. I’ve been in races where there have been 90 racers. You don’t get that in road.”

In the spring she will get back on her road bike for the road-racing season, and hopes to add a few college-sponsored races to her schedule. She plans to continue racing in college and riding on her own for fun.

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