Heart Like a Wheel

Every competitive cyclist in America knows Souderton. For all its small size, it offers a range of cycling contests: sprints and distance races, amateur and professional, road and track, solo and team, local and international.

Peter von Allmen, associate professor of economics, chair of the Department of Economics and Business, and active sports fan, took up serious cycling just three years ago. Not because he lives in Souderton, but it’s a nice coincidence that he does.

On September 21, 2003, von Allmen completed the 100- kilometer Cyclosportif and decided to see how some of the other races were going. Just then, the Univest Grand Prix was coming to its finish line in downtown Souderton. “I arrived in time to hear the announcer screaming about the end of the women’s race ... a wicked three-way sprint to the finish,” von Allmen said. His wife then saw in the race program that the winner, Ashley Kimmet, was a Moravian student.

Here’s how Ashley describes the race:

“I [had] raced there last year but got a flat tire on the last lap and had to withdraw. This time, I did the pro women’s race, and there was a good quality of riders. We raced for 35 miles on a two-mile loop that went uphill and downhill.” She illustrates by waving her arms: Whoosh! Whoosh! “At the end of the race, the field was still together and the finish came down to a sprint. I am usually not much of a sprinter but was able to come around one of the best sprinters in the country and win the race. It was a pretty big win for me and for my team.”

She didn’t make a big deal of her victory, but the Public Relations Office at the College heard about it from Peter von Allmen and from Paul Acampora, the College’s director of development, another avid cyclist.

Not long after that, von Allmen and Ashley Kimmet ’05 met for coffee and exchanged bike stories.

A Bethlehem native, Ashley got on a racing bike at 13 in the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown. This has remained her home base as she began to enter races and move up in the ranks of the American Cycling Federation. As a high school senior in 2000, she won a silver medal in the world championship races in Italy.

In 2002, she competed in the U.S. championships at the Velodrome and came in third, less than three seconds behind the second-place winner. For her time in the qualifying heats, she won an Espoir National Championship, given to riders younger than 23. She began to think about entering the 2004 Olympics.

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Photo: John Kish IV