Bucks County Herald

Team player

CB East’s Shumskas stays Fearless, focused

DAVID CAMPBELL



Paige Shumskas, second from right, and her father, Tony Shumskas, gather with Fearless Femme team members.

The Fearless Femme Racing team is based in Lambertville, N.J.

Two members of the team hail from Australia, one’s from Texas, another from Tennessee. Only Paige Shumskas could make the drive on one tank of gas.

“It’s totally different,” Shumskas said on being part of a team, upping with Fearless Femme in February 2016. “I like it a lot better. I find that racing for myself ends up feeling very selfish and you end up feeling lonely, I guess.

“I like racing with people,” she continued, “because you have your friend right next to you and you’re working together to get a team win, not just for yourself. You’re working to get someone on your team a win, and when your teammate wins, it’s like you’re all winning.”

For Shumskas, a recent graduate of Central Bucks East who plans to matriculate in the University of Delaware Honors Program and pursue a major in chemical engineering and a minor in physics, it’s all about the team.

“I think my greatest fear would be letting my team down and not performing what they need,” Shumskas said.

“I fear not doing my job,” she added, “letting my teammates down because they’re my friends and I care about them and I want them to do well, and I want to do well, as well.”

Shumskas is one of the top cyclists around. This year’s Thompson Bucks County Classic Doylestown Health Professional Women’s race, which zips through the streets of Doylestown starting at 11:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, will be Shumskas’ third and second as part of the Fearless Femme Racing team.

“I was working for someone else that day,” Shumskas said of her 2016 result. “There was a breakaway up the road and last year I decided that breakaway was coming too close to the end, so I got to the front of the field and I brought the breakaway back, but that ended up ending my race. You’re working really hard to bring it back and then you have nothing left for the finish.”

Shumskas officially had a DNF (did not finish) next to her name in the final results; however, a couple of her teammates cracked the top 12.

The Thompson Bucks County Classic is one of Shumskas’ favorites. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the race isn’t far from her Pipersville home.

“Not every race,” Shumskas said, “has that arts festival (Doylestown Arts Festival, Sept. 9 and 10) and bike race going on at the same time.”

Shumskas’ summer has been just as busy as her school year. From July 14 to 23, she spent time in Chicago with her team for the 10-day Intelligentsia Cup. Individually, Shumskas finished 39th. Early last month, she landed in Louisville, Ky., for the USA Cycling nationals, where she was fifth (out of 22) in the Women 17-18 Junior road nationals and third (out of 20) in the Women 17-18 Junior crit nationals.

For 11 days starting in mid-June, Shumskas was in Wisconsin for the Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD), where she came in 40th individually.

Shumskas prefers the grueling, double-digit day competitions with her team.

“I really enjoy those sorts of races because the team really learns to work together very well,” she said. “When you’re racing for so long together, it’s like you find this rhythm and you find your place and you kind of discover what your best role is. You just really find what you need to do.”

In April, Shumskas flew to Europe as a member of the USA Cycling Junior Women’s National Team. She, of course, had to miss school, which was tough, she said, but she found it to be a rewarding experience, plus she performed well.

Cycling isn’t necessarily in Shumskas’ blood. Her father, Tony, bikes a little and her younger sister, Danielle, 14, does some track racing at the velodrome in Lehigh County, but Paige Shumskas – thus far – has been the one making headlines.

“I discovered it back in seventh grade,” she said. “I was running track and I broke my toe, so I couldn’t run anymore. I started riding to stay in shape. Then my dad signed me up for this program at the velodrome in Trexlertown.”

Shumskas said she ended up liking cycling and joined a junior development team. She then branched out on her own for a little while before Fearless Femme showed interest.

Linking up with Fearless Femme, she said, was the best thing that ever happened to her. The team takes care of most of the cyclists’ financial responsibilities, including travel, housing and race registrations.

“They make a huge difference,” Shumskas said.

The former Patriot’s future is wide open. Her studies come first, she said, but she’s definitely not ruling out competing for an Olympic bid, if it’s in the cards.

“I have these two lives that I want to live,” Shumskas said, “and I’m not sure exactly how they merge. I have this academic future. I want to go get my Ph.D. and go work at a university, but I also want to go ride bikes and travel the world.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

Tweet



www.buckscountyherald.com

Copyright ©2017 Bucks County Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.