Sisters commonly share many different experiences, and Samantha and Skyler Schneider of West Allis recently teamed for a special accomplishment.
Samantha, who is 22 years old, and Skyler, 14, competed on the same bicycling team in the Tour of America's Dairyland event in the latter part of June.
With plenty of help from Skyler, Samantha took home the overall champion's jersey in the event, which covered 11 different races of varying lengths in cities of southeast Wisconsin.
"We raced in Shorewood, East Troy and Grafton, and the furthest out we went was probably Elkhart Lake," Skyler said. "Every day was a new city."
She said nine of the courses were one-kilometer in length and took about an hour to negotiate, while the other two were about 60 miles long, which required more time.
Close to home
When the grueling series was finally over, Samantha stood as the champion.
"It was a long series, and it was special to race 11 days so close to home," said Samantha, who has competed in many locations across the United States as well as Europe and Qatar. "There were professional racers from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Colombia. It was a good win for me."
Sister Skyler was thrilled to be able to help Samantha achieve that goal.
"I grew up looking up to her," Skyler said. "I want to be just like her. I want to race with her and learn from her."
Both said it is rare for two sisters to even compete on the same team, much less earn a championship.
"It was exciting to race with Skyler," Samantha said. "Most racers of her age are not able to compete at this level, but she was a big help to me. She would lead out in the sprints and set the pace for me. If I didn't have her as a teammate, I wouldn't have won."
Their team started out with four members, but two other racers from New Zealand and Colorado dropped out after one week, leaving Samantha and Skyler to forge ahead.
Cycling runs in family
The sisters have an extensive background in the sport, as both father Dave and mother Connie were competitive cyclists.
Samantha and Skyler both became involved in cycling early, entering their first competitive races at age four.
"(Those races) were as competitive as four-year-olds can get," Skyler said.
They enjoyed following in their parents' tire tracks.
"I grew up watching my parents race," Samantha said, "and now they watch us race."
Skyler added, "We were pretty much born onto bicycles."
She said there are plenty of advantages to the sport.
"You can travel and meet new people," she said. "It is difficult when I'm in school, because I have to take my homework with me. This taught me how to manage time, though."
Skyler will be entering West Allis Hale, her sister's alma mater, as a freshman this fall.
Samantha still has a busy schedule left this summer, with her next stop the Professional Criterium Nationals in High Point, N.C.
She also plans to compete in Illinois, Boston and Las Vegas in the next month.
They both hope to continue carrying on the strong family cycling tradition.
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