Abby Mickey, one of the most versatile ski racers ever to come out of Aspen, is stepping into the world of professional cycling.
Mickey, an Aspen native and former alpine and Nordic ski racer, will join the pro women’s team led by Nicola Cranmer, longtime director of the top domestic women’s road racing team.
And she can’t wait.
“I’m really excited to see what happens,” Mickey said after signing with Cranmer’s team for the upcoming season. Coming off a highly successful career as a collegiate cyclist for the University of Colorado, Mickey elevated her riding with a prestigious victory early last summer in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Road Race from Durango to Silverton.
She joined the likes of Boulder’s Mara Abbott, the American winner of the top European women’s stage race, on the list of Iron Horse champions.
“This will be my first team with more than five riders,” Mickey said. “My first team other than my college team. In college (cycing), I learned how to work as a team ... work for a team leader.”
She also learned the intricacies of the road after starting as a mountain biker in the CU cycling program.
Mickey climbed all the way up to finish third in the collegiate national championship road race, helping winner and teammate Heather Fisher to a national title.
That earned her an invitation to compete on the collegiate all-star women’s team in more high profile races last summer.
“I started out with CU cycling just for fun ... mountain biking at first,” Mickey said. “Then, I decided I wanted to do road (racing) to cross train for mountain biking. And I never looked back.”
The former double-duty ski racer stayed on the road.
“I fell in love with the speed of the road. And the team aspect is just my favorite thing about (bike racing),” said Mickey, who pulled a double-double by earning the Colorado skimeister title in high school — the top all-around skier, alpine and Nordic.
She’ll be back in Aspen this week to ski for the USA Cycling Team in the annual Ajax Cup benefit ski race for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) on Monday.
“I skied alpine with AVSC until I was a freshman in high school, and then I skied Nordic for AVSC until I graduated from high school,” she said. “And I raced for the high school team in both. The alpine aspect translates by throwing yourself into a dangerous situation and staying upright. Nordic is endurance. Having both of those in my background will help my cycling,” said Mickey.
Her first experience racing against pros — at the Snowmass Circuit Race — convinced Mickey that she wanted to pursue serious racing. Mickey said she was lapped by American cycling legend Kristin Armstrong on the three-lap race.
“I remember thinking, ‘That is what I want to be like,’” said Mickey, the daughter of daughter of James and Marlene Mickey.
Now, the Aspen native will ride for the same team director who led Armstrong to cycling history.
“To me, the Music Festival, the ski club and the Aspen Institute, those are the foundations that modern-day Aspen was founded on.”