How to help

Friends have started a memorial fund for Amy Dombroski and her family. Donations can be dropped off at Pro Peloton Cyclery in Boulder or mailed to Memorial of Amy Dombroski, c\o Wells Fargo Deposits, 1242 Pearl St., Boulder.

The Boulder cycling community mourned Thursday after learning that one of its own, pro cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski, was struck and killed during a training ride in Europe.

Friends and competitors remembered Dombroski fondly for her quick wit, humor and fierce competitiveness.

Dombroski was hit by a truck while training near the town of Sint-Katelijne-Waver in Belgium, according to a statement released by her Belgium-based team, Telent-Fidea. She was 26.

According to the statement, Dombroski was in the middle of a speed workout and training behind a scooter when the collision occurred.

Kristin Weber, a friend and fellow Boulder cyclist, remembered Dombroski as a "petite firecracker with a heart of gold" and a role model for the women's cyclocross community.

Weber said Dombroski lived her life the way she raced 'cross: fiercely.

"My heart breaks for the close friends, family and our entire cycling community that is reeling from this news," Weber said.

'She was cracking the code'

Dombroski grew up alpine ski racing in Vermont and attended Burke Mountain Academy, a boarding school for ski racers.

She moved to Steamboat Springs after graduating from high school to pursue ski racing, but injured her knee. Dombroski moved to Boulder, where her older brother Dan Dombroski lived, and began riding a bike to rehab her knee.

She competed in her first bike race in May 2006, and later that year, Dombroski won her first under-23 national title in cyclocross, a cold-weather cycling discipline in which riders dismount their bikes and carry them over obstacles.

She added two more under-23 cyclocross national titles in 2007 and 2008, and went on to win under-23 national titles in road cycling and mountain biking in 2009.

Although she became one of the most well-known cyclocross racers in the country, friends said Dombroski remained humble and willing to work with kids and newcomers to the sport.

Barry Lee, local race organizer and Sanitas Sports founder, said Dombroski always gave him suggestions on how to attract more women to cycling, and she worked hard to make women feel welcome at races and cycling events.

"She could make anyone feel comfortable and at ease on or off the bike," Lee said. "That is unique for a top athlete. ...The community and sport has had a tremendous loss."

This was Dombroski's second season living and racing in Belgium full time, and many friends said she was on the cusp of winning on the international cyclocross stage. In a sport largely dominated by men and Europeans, Dombroski stood out, friends said.

"This was going to be her World Cup year," said Greg Keller, a Boulder cyclocross racer and blogger. "She was right at the sweet spot. This was her second year on arguably one of the world's most famous cyclocross teams. She was cracking the code and putting in all the hard work, like she was today, training."

Keller said Dombroski was hilarious, always making him laugh so hard that whatever he was drinking shot out of his nose.

'Always positive and smiling'

Dombroski lived for cyclocross, where she could ride outside in the cold and the mud, Keller said.

"There was more joy in her face when it had mud on it than when it didn't," Keller said.

Though she competed hard on the course, Dombroski was friends with everyone, said Nicole Duke, a Boulder cyclocross racer.

"She had this positive way that you wanted to be around," Duke said. "She was always positive and smiling. There are just those certain personalities that really shine and she was one of them."

During a family trip to Europe last year, Scott Fliegelman, founder of Boulder's Fast Forward Sports, cheered for Dombroski during a race in rural Belgium. Her face lit up when she heard their cheers, he said.

"She heard us cheering for her in English," Fliegelman said. "'Go Colorado! Go Amy!' and every lap she would come around with this huge smile on her face."

Boulder's Mara Abbott said she admired Dombroski's passion and tried to emulate her.

"She didn't mess around with what people thought of her," Abbott said. "She was passionate and she was happy and she was really able to live from a place that I think very few of us can."

Contact Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106, kutas@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/sarahkuta.