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Timmy Duggan believes that if every young athlete could have a dream and a mentor, ‘the world would truly be a better place.’

By Julie Kailus

Former professional cyclist Timmy Duggan had some exceptional career highs. The 2012 USA Pro national champion road racer, Olympic team member and Tour de France competitor has stood atop many podiums. Duggan, who retired last year, was crowned with titles like “most aggressive rider” in the inaugural 2011 USA Pro Challenge and “king of the mountains” for his climbing prowess in Spain’s popular Vuelta Catalunya road race.

These days Duggan, 31, seems to be applying that sense of “something bigger” to goals and accomplishments that are no less lofty, just a little more community focused. He’s employing the greatest lesson cycling taught him—never give up—in entirely new ways. For Duggan, retirement from professional athletics isn’t about kicking back; it’s about stepping up. The Nederland resident is spending more time with his wife, Loren, family and friends, learning the family real estate business, mentoring and fundraising for young athletes, and working with nonprofits to raise awareness of causes close to his heart. 

But he does squeeze in a little time for living the good life, Colorado-style. When Duggan is not working with his Just Go Harder Foundation (www.justgoharder.com) or other charities, you might catch him riding his mountain bike in Nederland, alpine or backcountry skiing, or hiking with his dog. In town he hits happy hour on Pearl Street’s West End. “It’s so fun to sit outside and take in the view and people-watch,” he says. “I like Brasserie Ten Ten and PastaVino, and the roof on the West End Tavern is one of the best in Boulder.” 

Duggan is living a philosophy he honed over years while trying to navigate the complexities of competition: “Don’t think too much. Just do it, just go there, just be what you want to be.” We caught up with Duggan to see where the post-cycling path is taking him—and the lives of those he’s touching daily. 

Q: Tell us more about the Just Go Harder Foundation.

A: The Just Go Harder Foundation (JGHF) is a scholarship fund to provide financial assistance for youth to be involved in skiing and cycling sports. My former teammate Ian Macgregor [CEO of Skratch Labs] and I founded the JGHF because we know how much the opportunities, coaching and mentorship provided to us through ski and bike racing shaped our lives. Skiing and cycling can often be cost-prohibitive as a barrier to entry as well as continuing the sport at an elite level. After several years of reaching out to various organizations within the Boulder community, the primary goal of JGHF now is to become a permanent legacy scholarship for Lake Eldora Racing Teams, the premier ski racing and mountain biking program in Boulder County that both Ian and I came up through. We would love to create a scholarship for LERT that would continue to provide assistance to the program that means so much to us year after year. 

Q:  We heard you’re involved in some other causes, like Operation Smile. 

A: I grew up with a cleft lip and palate, a birth defect that shaped my life and my mentality as much as sport did. During my cycling career, I hadn’t made the time to become involved in the cleft community, but now it’s something I really want to do and give back to. I think that when I was a kid my family and me would have appreciated someone in my position to look up to, and to share stories and advice with. I’m truly lucky to have been born in the United States. Many children in developing countries without the resources to fix their cleft end up malnourished, unable to speak properly and stigmatized. Operation Smile provides these children with a life-changing surgery that costs only $240 and takes 45 minutes. 

Q: What’s your fondest memory from your cycling career?

A: The 2012 London Olympics. To me, the Olympic Games are the epitome of what sport is all about. It was so amazing to be a part of something so powerful, so ingrained in world culture, that is way bigger than any individual sport, that captures the attention of the world for two weeks. n

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Evergreen-based writer Julie Kailus has been interviewing inspiring athletes like Duggan for more than 15 years.