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Vigland has, in many ways, “arrived” at age 41 in a sport generally dominated by people a decade younger. Watch her move a bike, handle it, cradle it, hurdle it, and you can see why she’s Michigan’s No. 1 road-race woman. Her legs circle, foot clipped to pedal, in a motion as mindless as breathing. She makes it look effortless.
She tempts you into buying your first road bike. And you find yourself on the killer hill on Tower Road in Leelanau County, walking the bike and cursing Vigland for the pain in your legs and the burn in your lungs. She’s wooed you, fooled you. But you forgive her—because her grace on a bike is a promise of what you can become.
“Just try it,” Vigland says, her face starting to reveal faint lines from the miles she’s ridden in every kind of weather. “I
love the freedom on a bike. I love the speed—it’s exhilarating. I love the workout. I love the companionship.”
While Vigland’s skill and talent have inspired local bikers, she remains one of just a handful of women making the racing
circuit. “We are, unfortunately, a rare breed,” Vigland says. “Most people think racing is cool, but many women are afraid
of racing, especially road racing. They are afraid of the speed and of getting hurt.”
Vigland concedes she, too, has crashed a few times. Her most embarrassing was in a road race where her husband, Todd,
had crashed only minutes before. “I saw him on the side of the road with blood on his jersey and shouted, ‘Are you
okay?’ It only took a glance away from the wheel in front of me to crash.”
Both Viglands came out the other side of it with just a few cuts and bruises. But the squad car that had stopped to help
Todd caught Susan’s crash on the dashboard camera.
“It was funny—but only for Todd and the cop!” Vigland says. The crash was in her first year of racing, in 2007. It was
the same race where she won the state championship in 2009. Redemption on two wheels.