Growing up, Beth Bonilla stayed active trying to keep up with her two brothers. They all played soccer as far back as she can remember, and she ran track and cross-country in high school. After college, she began long distance running and completed her first marathon in 2006. Up until that point, cycling had been fun but not enough of a challenge. Beth remembers telling her husband Caleb, “I just can’t get the same kind of workout with cycling as I can with running.” She had yet to learn just how hard riding a bike can be… As knee pain limited her running mileage, Beth began to spend more time on her road bike.
When her husband started racing, Beth went along to watch his first couple of events. It didn’t take long before she wanted to give racing a try. Her first race didn’t go so well, but she resolved to improve her fitness and skills. As the only woman on the ProPedals cycling team, Beth felt right at home trying to keep up with the boys again. They helped her push herself harder than she thought possible. Within a few years Beth had upgraded to category 2. In 2012, she joined the Peanut Butter and Co. Human Zoom cycling team. After several years of racing solo, Beth was excited to join forces with a team of talented women. As the road captain for the 2013 season, Beth continued to challenge herself and her teammates with the task of developing and executing sound race tactics, believing the strength of her team is greater than the sum of its parts.
December Weight: 150 lbs.
Race Weight: 145 lbs.
Birthdate: September 1908
Childhood Heroes: “Scott Davis [Olympic figure skater from her home town], Maverick from the movie Top Gun.”
Hobbies and Interests: “Anything outdoors: hiking, camping, skiing, kayaking. I love to explore new places and see how other people live their daily lives. I enjoy cooking and baking, and am active in my local community Christian church.”
Favorite Movies: “The Princess Bride, The Shawshank Redemption.”
Musical Tastes: “Country, Rock, Christian Rock.”
Favorite TV Shows: “The Simpsons, Futurama.”
Favorite Meal: “IndeBlue [Indian restaurant in Collingswood, NJ]”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Trader Joe’s Vanilla Almond Clusters.”
Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “Waffles with Peanut Butter and Co. Maple peanut butter.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Heath.”
Childhood Dream: “To be an Olympic figure skater.”
First Car: “Orange 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle.”
First Job: “Cleaning houses with my mother’s friend.”
Favorite Vacation Spot: “Alma, Colorado. My family has a cabin there, one without electricity or plumbing or clocks. Most summers my family would spend a week there. My brothers and I would tromp through the woods, fish without catching much, and were quite fascinated by trying to pull entire trees out of the forest for firewood. There was a lake that was always too cold for swimming, but we’d splash around and play king of the rock anyways. We’d have a campfire almost every night, and gaze at the stars as we brushed our teeth outside.”
Pre-Race Feeling: “Nervous, anxious, jittery, and like I need to go to the port-a-john again.”
Early Racing Memory: “My first race was the NJ State Road Race in Bridgeton. It was 40 miles long. I’d been doing training rides of about 15. I didn’t know what to expect for my first race. Part of me wondered if I might be really good, and the other part was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get clipped in and get dropped from the start. In reality, neither of those things happened. The first lap wasn’t too fast, and I hung with the group. The second lap the field started racing. They didn’t keep a steady pace like I was used to in my training rides. They didn’t slow down around the corners much either. So many accelerations! It didn’t take long before I’d burned all my matches. I got dropped but kept riding as hard as I could while the field disappeared from sight. After finishing, I slumped in the passenger seat of my car, embarrassed and exhausted. Another racer and recent acquaintance, Tonya DiNofrio, came by to tell me “Great job finishing!” To this day, this is one of the things I love about women’s racing: your opponents will ride your legs off, then after the race give you a hug and a sincere word of encouragement.”
Funny Racing Memory: “The first time I got into in a successful break, I was pretty excited. I got away all on my own, and finished by myself, far ahead of the field. The problem was, I wasn’t sure if there was anyone else ahead of me of not. I hadn’t been paying very much attention at the beginning of the race. People were cheering as I came over the line so I thought maybe I’d won. I asked my husband, and he asked if the lead moto had been with me. “What moto?” I said. Although I’d done several races, I hadn’t spent much time at the front, and had never been off the front. I didn’t realize the moto goes with the leader of the race. I sheepishly collected my second place prize that day.”
Greatest Racing Moment: “Finishing 18th place at the 2011 Wilmington Grand Prix. The year before, I got dropped. I was determined to do better on my second try. The pace was brutal from the gun. By lap 10, I was almost positive I would not be able to finish, but I wanted to stay in as long as possible. I focused on surviving each surge and tried not to think about how much longer I had to keep it up. Somehow I made it to the halfway point. I still was not very optimistic, surprising myself each lap that I remained with the field. Then there were only 10 laps to go. Somehow that was a magic number for me, the light at the end of the tunnel, and I knew I must finish. I’d come too far to give up. As we came up the finishing stretch, the crowd cheered like this race mattered. I sprinted to the line for a glorious 18th place that somehow felt like the sweetest victory yet.”
Most Painful Moment In Life: “Telling my then-boyfriend goodbye the day he headed off to college on the other side of the country. I was totally hysterical that day, convinced I couldn’t measure up to the girls at his school. It turns out God had a plan for us, and I’ve had the privilege of being married to Caleb for 13 years.”
Worst Injury from Racing: “I crashed in a men’s Cat-4 field sprint and ended up with a broken finger and a concussion. I don’t remember getting up from the crash. I came to in my friend’s van and had no recollection of how I got there. On the plus side, whoever put my bike debris into my car included a nice pair of sunglasses. If anyone has been missing a pair of blue and white Smith glasses since 2008, well, you can’t have them back because they’re my favorite.”
Closest Racing Friends: “My husband Caleb.”
Funniest Racer: “Wade Hess.”
Favorite Race: “Tour of the Catskills.”
Embarrassing Racing Memory: “Being in a 3-person break with a teammate, and neither of us won.”
Toughest Competitors: “Betty Tyrell, she is tough as nails and lays down attacks on girls half her age.”
Favorite Athletes to Watch: “Marianne Vos, Katie Compton.”
Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Sincerity and honesty.”
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “The freedom, the challenge, the people, the places I’ve seen, and the physical high after a hard ride.”