On May 29th, 2013, Shawn Rosenthal waited amongst the NorCal peloton at the foot of Mt. Hamilton, the tallest peak in the Bay Area, for the beginning of the NCNCA Road Race Championship. Mist floated down from overhead as the group set off for a harrowing climb to the stark white observatories at the peak. Rosenthal is a powerful rider, though not immediately recognizable as a climber, and he had to suffer greatly to make it over the top with a small elite selection. He plummeted down the descent, and rode with a trio of the area’s best riders to the finish… And won the sprint.
In the wake of his victory, there was one common question of disbelief: “How did Rosenthal win that?”. Answers often hinged on his skills as a descender, he is one of the best in NorCal. But it was clear to those who know Rosenthal – it was all heart and his never-say-die attitude that allowed him to stay with the leaders up Mt. Hamilton.
Former professional and current co-captain of Team Mikes Bikes p/b Equator Coffee and Tea, Roman Kilun, shared a similar sentiment about Rosenthal’s exceptional love for the sport of cycling and intense desire to succeed:
“Shawn is truly a foundational member of Team Mike’s Bikes. His passion for the sport, commitment to excellence, and fierce drive to win are a huge part of the team’s character and success. When Shawn isn’t winning himself we can rely on him to give his last bit for team.”
9 Days ago, Rosenthal suffered a life-threatening cardiac event. Here is his account of what happened:
“Sunday January 12th was a typical weekend day for me; I was out for a ride in the East Bay with Tieni Duro, a junior team I started racing with and that I now coach. Four minutes after a county line sprint, while recovering, I suddenly felt light headed and got off my bike to rest. Seconds later, I went into cardiac arrest. Thankfully, my fellow riders snapped into action tending to me and calling for help. The fire department arrived quickly to save me and transported me to the hospital.
After a few days I was transferred to UCSF’s cardiology department where doctors were able to diagnose my condition as arhythmagenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVC). ARVC is a rare genetic disease, which causes abnormal connections between heart muscle cells, leading to heart rhythm irregularities. At the moment I am discharged but will return to have an S-ICD surgically installed in about a month. This device will protect me against dangerous heart rhythms for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, this means I will not be able to exercise at competition level going forward.
Bicycle racing has been my life for the past 11 years along with training other cyclists as a professional coach for the past 5 years. Last season I found my greatest success in winning 2013 NCNCA District Road Race Champion and helping lead Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator to another Premier Series title. Now I look forward to finishing my master’s degree in exercise physiology and putting those studies into practice in my professional coaching services.
As the competitive phase of my cycling career comes to an end, I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to every single person involved in introducing me to the sport of cycling, my selfless teammates, mentors, friends and the sponsors who were there every step of the way.”
The NorCal peloton will miss Rosenthal’s kind demeanor in the bunch, his willingness to lend advice, his interest in fostering young riders, and of course, always remember his inspiring 2013 NCNCA Championship. We all eagerly look forward to see the new successful role he takes among our vibrant cycling community.
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