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US Women's Cycling Development Program diary
The US Women's Cycling Development program was founded by former pro rider, Michael Engleman, as a way to help promising young women cyclists reach their full potential as athletes. The USWCDP networks current and former women pro riders with up and coming athletes through mentoring and coaching.
With experienced mentors like Olympians Dede Barry and Mari Holden, along with current pros Amber Neben, Tina Pic, Kim Anderson and others, the USWCDP helps young riders like Mara Abbott, Katharine Carroll and many more to race better, find teams and become professional bike racers. The dedicated and well spoken women of this program provide thoughtful, compelling and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of their experiences in this diary.
For further reading about the programme, visit the USWCDP website
May 28, 2008
A Chance to Give Back!
The recent merger between USWCDP and JET Cycling is something to get excited about. If you are on cyclingnews.com right now, then you must be some kind of bike nut or fan of the sport. This is not a site you stumble upon on your way to Yahoo to check out the latest gossip, unless you saw that Lance is dating Amy Winehouse and you came here to see if it's true!! If you are reading this article, then you really ARE a bike nut interested in Women's cycling and how we are trying to support it and help it to flourish. You might even be interested in how YOU can get involved!? Maybe you are even interested in finding new ways to support women and juniors, and want to find out how you can "give back" to a sport that fully enriches your life!?
Jet Tanner, the owner of JET Cycling feels this way, "Women do not get a fair shake in our industry and this has got to change. It should be equal pay, equal sponsorship, and equal opportunity, and this has not been the case. Women have to pay their own way to races, hardly get paid by their team contracts, and do not get the equipment they need to be successful. We are hoping to change that for the better of our sport. If we can achieve our goals for women in cycling, I think you will see a dramatic shift in the sport."
I am SO glad you clicked on this link, because we are so excited about the possibilities of USWCDP and JET Cycling and I am hoping that so many people like you will step up to the plate and get involved. I have recently had the privilege to join JET Cycling's Junior Team on some training rides in Orange County, CA. I have a goal of training with these magnificent youngsters twice a month. So far I have gotten to ride with, Millie 10, Rachel 10, Colleen 12, Kyle 13, Michael 13, Jordan 13, Scott 14, and Chase 13. What a killer bunch! On our first ride, what struck me the most was their unbelievable maturity, and I felt like I was having conversations with 25 year olds. Wow, these kids have very clear goals and dreams, and they can totally verbalize them and take ownership of them. I was amazed. I came home that evening to my husband, and told him NO WAY would I have had this same desire for such a painful sport at 10, much less 15 or 18 or even 24!!!
These kids work so bloody hard too! Every other minute, they were attacking each other, sprinting for signs, racing up the next hill. I was exhausted when it was over. I thought it would be a nice recovery day for me. NOT! At the very end of the ride we were back at Jet's house, and I thought my suffer fest was over, but no, they wanted to practice sprinting around the block, with the finish line being at the front of the house. Round and round we went. "Just one more, Dotsie" they would beg. "Seriously?" I thought my legs would need a week to recover from this! I am absolutely positive that the only reason I beat the 12 year old was because of his tiny junior gears. Thank goodness for my 53, or the little dude who just started racing last year would have spanked me.
These kids are so passionate that it is absolutely contagious. We have to all get together so this sport can continue in a big way, and we can send the next wave of U.S. Athletes to Europe with the right preparation, guidance, ethics, courage and sportsmanship. By the way, did I mention that Millie looks just like Amber Neben from behind when she is climbing? I swear it is her mini double. Yep, Millie is a mini-me of Amber. She knows it too, and Millie has set goals of not only winning the Women's Tour MORE times than Lance has won the Men's tour, but also becoming the first woman to compete in the men's Tour de France. If you met this little sprite, you would see why I totally believe BOTH are possible. Check her out on the Cyclingnews diary or at www.milliegoat.com
I asked Jet Tanner what his favorite thing about this program is so far and he simply said, "The happiness in their eyes. Seeing them improve and their desire and want to do better. Watching them look at their mentors (other professional riders that visit us) with wishes and dreams." Jet's dedication to this program is truly remarkable. Every single Monday and Wednesday at 4 p.m., he takes them on 2-hour training rides and teaches them everything from skills and technique to climbing and sprinting drills. They do intervals, and practice crits on a course he calls "mini-crits." They pace-line and rotate (in the right direction of the wind!) and they talk about nutrition and mental toughness. It is just awe-inspiring to see how much time and effort he puts in. On the weekends he takes them all to the races where they almost always come home with a win, and an even bigger smile. They are focusing on Junior Nationals right now, which they are all very excited about given that it will take place in their back yard of Orange County, California.
Michael Engleman's dedication to women's cycling development, and the unselfish gift of his genius and time has shaped the careers of some of the best women in the world. He is basically an angel in cowboy boots? As I write this, he is at the Tour of the Gila with two of my teammates, Andrea and Kristin, fully supporting them with driving, feeds, direction, and wrenching, simply because he believes in them.
I was at the Tour of Gila two years ago with Michael at the same race. He did everything, including changing my tires after every stage, "just in case." He is a remarkable man, so humble and so kind. I mean, seriously, how many people do you know who would give back that generously in the first place? AND Michael was a total Rock Star cyclist himself. I am pretty sure he has won every race there ever was, yet he does this work with the humbleness and patience of Job, and inspires us all with his love for the sport and his belief in us.
It is amazing what giving back can do. I encourage you to not just click to the next hyper-link on cyclingnews, but to stop and really think about how you can support the efforts of USWCDP and the JET Cycling Junior program. They are truly doing something incredible that will have an everlasting impact on all of those women and youngsters who go through their programs. Many of you dump thousands into non-profit charity organizations each year to avoid Uncle Sam, so I encourage you to dump your money HERE. I asked Jet if he could give me specifics on donations, how to give and where the money is going and he said this:
"To donate funds to the USWCDP is the best way and it is a Non-profit organization. We are looking to build a training center in Delores, Colorado to help women and juniors benefit from cycling. Funds will go directly to support the center. In addition, for those who really help we can do a press release with those who donate over $5000.00 to the USWCDP or JETCycling. Our goal is to get operating capital of $300,000 to cover the first year. This will cover building, assets (furniture, computers, equipment bicycles, salaries, etc...)."
"Another way is to be a sponsor for the US Elite, U-23, and Junior National Championships. We are looking for venue sponsors at $50,000 and there are four venues. If we get to our goal of $200k then we cover our costs for the championships, anything over that goes to the USWCDP and JETCycling for development. So the more we get the better off the center will be."
Please follow Michael and Jet in their steadfast belief in women and juniors, and give back as richly and fully as you can. It WILL make a difference in America's cycling future.
Thanks for reading,