Bart Heer is a track power house for the 75-rider SCCA/Starbucks Cycling Team, racing as a Masters Category 2 rider, the second-highest of five non-professional racing categories. Last season was a pretty impressive one for Bart, who finished third overall in the Track Masters A 35+ Category, a mix of Category 1, 2, and 3 riders—meaning Bart beat riders in a category above his own. More impressive still is the fact that this was a comeback season. “I found out halfway through the season that I was in third place in Masters, and I managed to hold onto it for the entire season,” said Bart, who returned to racing mid-season in 2013. “I’m really proud of that after coming back from not racing for three years.”
Bart and his father Jim, who was treated at SCCA. Photo credit: Marcia Heer.
It doesn’t seem like he missed a beat. In 2010, which Bart refers to as his breakthrough season, he took first place in the Tour de Dung series, a two-race road series that Bart entered as a Category 4 Road racer. He also started that season as a Category 4 racer on the track… and finished the season as a Category 2 racer. That is a serious accomplishment in cycling—most racers move up a single category after one or two full seasons. Bart isn’t most racers. He finished third in the Category 3 Omnium that year at the FSA Grand Prix.
“I was 44 racing against 20-somethings. And that’s how I earned the upgrade to Category 2,” he said.
Don’t mistake his quotes as boastful, Bart is the model teammate. He is respected and adored by fellow SCCA/Starbucks riders for his enthusiasm and encouragement.
“It’s always been a cohesive group. The first three years I raced the team seemed pretty solid, but over the years it’s really matured,” said Bart, who joined SCCA/Starbucks as one of the founding members of the men’s squad. “I would never have anticipated that the team would develop into such a strong racing body within the community.”
Photo credit: Kirsten Reed.
It was that team community that introduced Bart to SCCA. When Bart and the men’s squad partnered with the all-female Starbucks cycling team in 2008, some of the men had connections to SCCA, which came on as a sponsor.
In 2013 Bart’s father was diagnosed with lymphoma and specifically chose SCCA for treatment because of their exposure to SCCA values and services through the cycling team. Bart’s dad has been cancer free for a year now.
“I was a big believer in the organization before that, but when your dad can be around longer than he would otherwise, that cemented it for me. That’s a really personal connection.”
Bart appreciates that there are many people with similar SCCA experiences. People lean out of car windows to talk to Bart and other riders wearing the team kit—they’re excited to see the SCCA logo because they’ve been personally touched by the care they or a loved one received. “When I’m wearing my kit, people talk to me about those experiences and I love that,” Bart said.
Kirsten Soelling is a member of the SCCA/Starbucks Cycling Team. She works as a content strategist for the consulting company Sappington and moonlights as a stringer sports reporter for the Associated Press…because one writing job is just not enough.