Boise Weekly

The Wheel Thing: Twilight Criterium Provides Thrills From the Pros, Big Surprise for 5-year-old 'Pro Cyclist for a Day'

George Prentice Jul 15, 2018 6:00 AM
Just as Saturday's twilight edged into nighttime in downtown Boise, Gage Hecht crossed the finish line, winning the 32nd annual Boise Twilight Criterium men's pro competition by .008 seconds. Jennifer Valente won the women's pro competition just prior to the men's race.

The thrills from professional cyclists capped a full day of events, including a masters (40-plus years and older) amateur and even celebrity bike races, circling the Idaho Statehouse. The July 14 festivities kicked off with a traditional kids ride, where the next generation of racers circled the Idaho Capitol alongside three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Amstrong.

Later in the evening, 5-year-old Claire Jensen got the thrill of her young life when she was named "pro cyclist for a day" by the United Healthcare pro cycling team. She was gifted a new bike, helmet, autographed jersey, and she even accompanied the United Healthcare team during the formal introductions just prior to the professional races. Claire also received a granted from the United Healthcare Children's Foundation to help fund her speech therapy session.

Claire was born with a speech disability and the grant will help pay expenses not covered by her parents' insurance. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded over 15,000 grants valued at more than $40 million to children and their families across the U.S. for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.

Claire Jensen, 5, was named "pro cyclist for a day" by the United Healthcare pro cycling team.