By Dawn Medley
Heading into the Y Madness championship round on November 17, Expresso rider Tammi Piguet knew she was going to give it everything she had. She planned to log more miles in a single day on the state-of-the-art bikes than she ever had before. But she really didn’t expect to be the last rider to dismount at the STAUNTON-AUGUSTA FAMILY YMCA as the seconds ticked toward midnight.
“I heard Candace say over the loudspeaker, ‘We have four minutes left; make sure to log out before midnight so that your miles count.’ and I was just finishing up on Fruitdale,” said Piguet, who was riding one of four bikes in the Wellness Center.
“I thought it was pretty cool!” she added.
Tammi and her husband, David, had started riding at 3 a.m. that day, and the pair combined to add 191 miles to the 2,292 that ultimately propelled the SAYMCA to its 2022 National Champion status.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Earning the Y Madness Tournament title was the culmination of five weeks of biking by 121 riders, an effort led by Expresso Team Captain and SAYMCA Business Manager Jeff Collins.
“The reaction has been crazy,” said Collins. “It seems a lot of people – not just riders – were checking out the bracket and following along. Someone asked me when we get to go to the White House, so we will have to work on that!”
After being ousted in the semi-final matchup of the 2021 competition, Collins set his sights on building a large base of riders to carry the Y to victory in the annual tournament. By creating excitement through weekly in-house incentives and encouraging new and veteran riders via Expresso’s Ride of the Week program (see story, page 9), he positioned the team to have a fighting chance at the top prize.
Although Collins himself rode a total of 379 miles in the tournament, he is quick to defer credit for the win back to the pool of participants.
“In the end, it all comes down to riders. You have to have people who are willing to put in the hard work,” he explained.
“We have the largest team in the tournament, and it is filled with riders who are very dedicated and very strong. We have numbers, commitment, and strength and that is a tough combination to beat.”
The facility opened early and closed late to accommodate a full 24 hours of riding during the final two rounds of Y Madness, and there was hardly a bike left unoccupied during those hours.
Case in point: One of the nine machines developed a glitch that Collins later learned was due to it overheating from constant use.
“Tenacious dedication to pumping those legs to victory is all I saw on the day of the Y Madness Championship,” said Caleb Simmons, a graveyard shift rider.
INDIVIDUAL RECORDS LEAD TO GROUP VICTORY
“We definitely saved our best for last in the final,” Collins said.
On its way to securing the winner’s Golden Spokes trophy, the SAYMCA set several benchmarks for future contests. In addition to setting a tournament record for total miles, six people rode more than 100 miles in the final round, four logged 300 miles or more during the tournament overall, and eight SAYMCA members made it onto the list of the Top 25 riders in the country.
Tammi Piguet’s 91 miles in the final round was no small feat – it solidly placed her in the Top 25 nationwide, and was dozens of miles more than her farthest previous ride. But next year, she’s aiming to break the 100-mile mark.
“It’s all good, though,” she said, jumping back on a bike a few days after the championship to complete the Ride of the Week course. “Whether you rode one mile or 100, we were all part of the team effort, and it brought us together as a community.”