Vermont Teen Inspired by Tour is Awarded JAM Fund Grant
Beau Guenther started riding a bike when he was six years old while growing up in Putney, Vermont.
“I got obsessed with it after I watched the Tour de France with my friend Darius Parker,” Guenther said. “From then on I looked for a small road bike that I could race and ride.”
Now 12, Guenther is certain about his future.
“I want to be a professional cyclocross racer,” he said. “I want to race for Jeremy Powers’ team.”
Guenther is one of 13 dedicated cyclists who are receiving a JAM Fund Grant award—financial or equipment assistance to help defray the expenses related to competitive cyclocross.
“I’m very happy about the grant,” he said. “I race as hard as I could basically, and that’s why I think I got it.”
Guenther started racing when he was eight. His first cross race was local event by the West Hill Bike Shop.
“It was quite awesome, one of the funnest races I’ve ever done,” he said. “I got the Vermont State Championship and that was my first medal. There were 20 people in my race. It’s pretty fun. You go through a bunch of cornfields and gnarly run ups and crazy barriers and obstacles.”
His other favorite races are the Northampton Cycle-Smart International and Providence KMC. This fall, he plans to do those again and more.
“I want to do some night races like the Night Weasels and Fitchburg.”
Guenther is in the 7th grade at Putney Central School. He’s learning science and studying genetics about the characteristics and traits of ancestors. After class, he often rides bikes with his friends Darius Parker and Liza Bell.
“I ride a few times a week with my core group of riding friends Darious, Liza and a couple other kids,” he said. “We do a 20-mile ride every Wednesday with this guy who leads it.”
Guenther races for the West Hill Thunderbolts, a team made up of young kids like himself.
“Our team helped put on a mountain bike race last summer called the Cider House Classic, which goes around the Putney High School campus,” he said. “I helped make the course.”
In addition to being a little ripper on the bike, Guenther is serious about cross-country skiing.
“This winter, I raced 4 and 5k classic and skate all over the place in the White Mountains,” he said. “I’m pretty hard core into it. Sometimes when the snow gets hard and icy, I go out in the field and ride around on it on my mountain bike.”
Guenther also likes to play around on the skateboard and ride BMX. He played trombone when he was in 4th grade.
“I played it for two years and kinda stopped,” he said. “It’s a little heavy.”
But of all his hobbies, he says cross is the best.
“Cyclocross is my favorite because it’s a mix of mountain biking and road and you’re riding on dirt and roots and harder obstacles and stuff,” he said.
Guenther’s dad rides cross too and supports his son’s passion.
“It’s great and I think he has realistic view of it,” Pete Guenther said. “It keeps him on a bike and off the couch and keeps him fast. If he becomes a pro cyclocross racer, that would be great. I’ll go cheer for him and even be his team mechanic.”
Beau is excited for the fall cross season to start.
“I’m just going to do as many races as I can and place well so I’m more noticed,” he said. “Also the JAM Fund will be good thing for that.”
The grant that Beau Guenther received is largely funded by the JAM Fund's biggest fundraiser, the Grand Fundo, a one-day scenic ride through Western Massachusetts. This year's ride is on July 16, where grant recipients will receive their award. The public is invited to the ride the Grand Fundo and attend the post-ride barbecue and awards ceremony. Registration is at bikereg.com.
A list of current and past JAM Fund grant winners is at http://www.jamcycling.org/grant-recipients/.