Telegram & Gazette
In her first year of mountain bike racing last season, Emily had been grabbing first-place finishes in the junior beginner division while showing her climbing strength. She was aching to attack the hills again.
"The whole time I was in the hospital, all I wanted to do was get back out and ride," she said.
However, Emily followed the doctor's advice and waited six months before riding again. Two weeks after her convalescence from the neck injury and complete abstinence from the bike, the 15-year-old from Sturbridge was racing again.
In May, she finished second in the Junior Massachusetts State Championship cross country race and the next day grabbed first in the junior sport division in the Winsted Woods mountain bike race in Connecticut.
Last Sunday, Emily tackled the 18 percent grade of one of Worcester's steepest hills and finished as the top female in the George Street Bike Challenge for Major Taylor. She placed fourth among seven riders in the junior 12-15 category, with a time of 39.90 seconds. That placed her 56th overall among 93 finishers, ahead of all women and 25 of the men.
"I absolutely loved it," Emily said. "Unlike most people, I love going uphill. It was perfect for me."
Organizers of the George Street event had an extra medal to award, since there was only one tandem entry, and they chose Emily, the only girl to race in the 500-foot, uphill time trial.
"The under-18 field has doubled in size since the first George Street race in 2002, and this is the first year we had enough kids to split the juniors into two age groups," said co-organizer Lynne Tolman, a board member of the Major Taylor Association, which presented the event. "With Emily Curry's outstanding climb as proof that this is not just a sport for guys, we hope to have more girls preregister next year so we can plan on a separate medal category for them."
Thomas Carr, 27, of Worcester, was the overall winner with a time of 24:09. Scott Dolmat-Connell, 18, of Princeton, finished second in 24:28; followed by Brian Chapman, 31, of Providence, in 24:44; P.J. McQuade, 24, of Millbury, in 25:28; and Eric deRivera, 48, of West Boylston, in 25:40.