Tri-ing it out: Grand Valley Tri Club has athletes excited about competing

David and Mandy Vindiola, who were instrumental in the creation of the Grand Valley Tri Club, train for a triathlon earlier this spring. The club was started by Chris Reed and his wife, Amy, and already has 75 triathletes as members.

Mandy Vindiola rides her bike while training for a triathlon she and her husband, David, plan to compete in this summer.

Mandy Vindiola has always wanted to try a triathlon, but feared the water.

“For years, I just watched,” she said. “One day, I decided I’m going to do it. It took a couple years to get used to open water swimming.”

After taking a swimming class, the 34-year-old Grand Junction woman tried the Highline Hustle sprint triathlon.

“The swim went bad, but I was hooked,” Vindiola said.

Since then, she’s participated in a couple of Olympic-distance triathlons and is planning to compete in her first off-road triathlon this summer with her husband, David.

The Vindiolas have established connections with other people in the valley who participate in the sport, creating a need for an organization.

Chris Reed, who owns and operates Ascent Productions with his wife, Amy, started the Grand Valley Tri Club a couple of months ago. Already, 75 triathletes have joined.

“A few of us were talking, wishing we had a group or club of some sort,” Reed said. “The last few months I’ve thought about it.

“The idea behind the club is to produce health and wellness. It’s for anyone with experience in triathlons, like Kevin Koch, to newbies. We want to provide an avenue to get into triathlons.”

The club met for the second time Thursday night and elected officials.

Membership to the club is free this year, but there will likely be a fee next year, Reed said.

Membership includes uniforms and organized training.

“It’s nice to see a club getting started, we needed one in this town,” John Constan said. “We needed someone to step up to the plate and get it started.

“It’s always interesting when you go to races, you see people with club jerseys on and you wish you had a club to show off where you are from.”

Reed is hoping to launch a Web site for the club with an online calendar in the near future.

Club members will have access to people such as John Weirath, who custom-fits bicycles to individuals.

“This will give people a resource on how to sign up for a triathlon to what kind of bike you need,” Reed said. “We want to provide a nice, comfortable atmosphere.”

The club will give people an opportunity to connect with other triathletes to organize and train.

“It’s nice to see there are other crazy people out there like me,” Kenny Withrow said. “I can follow in a lot of these guys’ footsteps and learn from what they have done, like the Ironman.”

Withrow, 24, competed in the Highline Hustle sprint triathlon two years ago, but missed it last year with injuries. The Hustle is June 12 at Highline Lake this year.

Shelly Steadman, 37, competed in her first triathlon nine years ago and is looking forward to the benefits of the club.

“It’s a good way to get together,” she said. “There are quite a few people in the valley that do triathlons, so it’s a good way to get to know others and get together.”

Gold’s Gym is putting up sponsorship money for more triathlons, with the Gold’s Gym Half Marathon and 5K run/walk Aug. 7. The gym took over sponsorship of the Gold Man Olympic Distance Triathlon, formerly the Western Colorado Triathlon, which is Sept. 18.

Both triathlons will be produced by Ascent Productions, along with the Palisade Peach Fest 3-miler and 5-miler on Aug. 21, the U.S. Bank Rim Rock Marathon on Nov. 13 and the Palisade Jingle Jog 5K on Dec. 11.

“We’re really excited for (the club),” David Vindiola said. “It was long overdue. There were attempts of putting together a triathlon group several years ago, but it never really took off.

“Chris really took the initiative to get it out to the group members and get us organized and affiliated with the United Association of Triathlons.”


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