Miller bounces back on the bike wins gold at ESGs

VOORHEESVILLE — During a race two years ago, Beth Miller lay on the road unconscious, her face smashed, a bone broken.

But she was back on her bike nine days later.
"It’s a lot like having to get back on a horse," she said.

Last week, she rode her bike to two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze at the Empire State Games.

Among dozens of men, Beth Miller holds her own.
"It’s good for me to train with them," she said of the men that make up her cycling club before a Tuesday evening bike ride.

Pushing herself in training put Miller well before the 15 other women competing in the 55-mile road race at this summer’s Empire State Games, held in Westchester County last week. She finished the course in two hours and 41 minutes; the silver medalist finished nearly three minutes behind her.
"She was able to solo away on the hills on the last lap and finish alone," said Gary Toth, cycling coordinator for the games. The road race is probably the single hardest event for cyclists, he said.

Miller also took home a gold medal for the 10-mile time-trial event and she won silver in the 20-mile criterium. In the team time-trial event, her duo got the bronze medal in a race against teams of three.
"Beth and Jenny had the best time on the first lap," said Toth, referring to Miller and Jenny Ives. But they were each doing 50 percent of the work instead of 33 percent, like members of the other teams of three. They came in less than a second behind the second-place team.
"It was good to be the woman who was awed at," Miller said of winning. "This weekend was definitely a confidence booster."

Overall, though, winning isn’t that important to Miller, she said. Unlike running, which she had done before, cycling is a social sport. When she got into it a few years ago, Miller rode from Buffalo to Albany in the FANY, Five hundred miles Across New York, ride, where she met some great people, she said.
Last year, Miller said, she was in about 25 races all across New England. "It’s definitely a way of life for me now," she said.

She was introduced to the sport by Andy Ruiz, when they were both teaching at New Visions, a program for the mentally retarded. The two are now a couple, and Ruiz is integral to her cycling, Miller said.
"It’s my therapy," said Miller, a school psychologist, when asked what she likes about bike riding. "It’s an indescribable feeling," she said.

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