Team bike riding offers members challenges, cheer and championships

liftmaster racing team

By Cheryl Posey

When thousands of runners left the starting line for the Cowtown Marathon this past weekend, who led the throng? A guy on a bicycle.

Tuneros Racing team member John Castro was the leadout rider for the Cowtown Marathon last weekend in Fort Worth. He rides for the Tuneros Racing Cycling team sponsored by Liftmaster, a company specializing in garage and gate door openers.

“I have had the privilege to escort the Cowtown for a few years now, and it is special to be a part of such a storied race and Fort Worth tradition,”Castro said.

In fact several riders from this club were escorts for different races in the marathon.

“Not only was John there, so was James Kelly, Steve Upchurch, Tish Lechon and myself,” said Bill Cearley, cycling team member. “We had a blast flying the LiftMaster-Tuneros colors and volunteering for such a storied race,” he said of Sunday’s race.

While these team members helped keep the pace in the famous Cowtown Marathon, other cycling team members raced in the Walburg Classic on Saturday, Feb. 23. (Somehow, Cleary managed to do both.)

Team member Jeff Burnett took 12th place in the 40+ Masters and Bill Cleary placed 6th in the 35+ Masters race.  Several others from Tuneros also rode in this 20+ year-old race set just north of Austin.

The cycle club rides a lot of times right here on the west side of Fort Worth, but organized rides usually begin at Colonel’s Bicycles on Foch Street in Fort Worth.

Although many team members are very competitive, others simply love the recreational side of the group. Wright says that members enjoy cycling at their own pace, but with the “perks and camaraderie of an organized team.” They may go to 50 races a year at the highest level, or just participate in the recreational events.

‘Turbo Canels,’ the group’s original team name, was started with six riders, six years ago by Alex Rodriguez, Rudy Fuentes, and Ray Lleverino. According to cyclist Hans Wright, those six participated in a lot of rallies that first year, like the Goatneck, Hotter-n-Hell and the Watermelon Waltz. Now members collectively compete in over 600 races and rallies all over the country each year.

liftmaster_racingCSponsorship of the team has changed hands; they began with Rudy’s Concrete, who bought the team their first custom jerseys.

“We have a great group of sponsors,” Wright said, that make it all possible. “LiftMaster is our title sponsor. They are far and away the best garage door opener available, so it is nice to be associated with their success. Colonels Bikes in Fort Worth is our shop sponsor and is a Fort Worth staple. If you are near West 7th please visit them. Fort Worth Lap-Band, Windsor Door, Ignite, Suarez, Paceline Products, Chubby’s Burger Shack, Chamois Butt’r, Stem-Kine,  and R Fuentes Concrete are great sponsors as well. If you are looking to get into cycling and want training help, 326 Training Systems is a great and affordable resource. They coach our athletes at all levels,” Wright said.

Although all these sponsors are necessary to enable the group to wear professional bike riding gear and enter hundreds of races, the real strength of the group, says Wright, comes from the people.DSC_0371C

“Our members make the wheels go round, no pun intended,” Wright said. “We have a great group from all walks of life that contribute a great deal to a very positive and welcoming team environment.”

In the past six years membership has changed in diversity and size, developing both a recreational side and a competitive side. The group currently has 42 riders ranging from ages 9 to 57 participating in rides of 20 to 120 miles.

Tuneros Cycling team, has a simple application process and welcomes new members of all levels of athleticism. “Simply reach out through our Facebook page, or to one of our members directly,” Wright said. “We have all types of memberships, so do not hesitate to reach out to us.”