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US Women's Cycling Development Program diary

US Women's Cycling Development Program diarist Kathrine Carroll drives the pace in 'Toona"
Photo ©: Mark Zalewski
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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

Index to all entries

June 28, 2008


By Rebecca Much

Much with her parents
Photo ©: Rebecca Much
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I get more than writer's block when I don't write for a while, and instead I get complete brain block. I'm in brain block mode right now maybe because there is so much that needs to be digested in my head that it is hard to put it all into words. I will attempt otherwise and try not to let what comes out all be waste but rather...

I left off what seems to me to be years ago, but still, it has at least been months and racing and travelling are in hyper mode. It is all about modes right now. Every section of my life going from here to there or getting ready for this and that are all separate little modes and sometimes it gets hard to keep track of which mode you are supposed to be in. Right now, I am tired but still have all this energy that wants to perform so its kind of taming the beast mode right now as I sit at home in Chicago and train some and stay relatively even keeled. I have to wait a little more than two weeks for my next round of racing an adventure to begin – I can do it.

I've been pretty lucky this year I'd say and I've gotten lots of opportunities thrown at me from people who are willing to give me them time and time again. They are showing confidence that I will only improve if I can avoid landing on my ass at 50 km/h or not flat, break chains, etc. It's nice to have that confidence behind me, really nice.

My team, Webcor Builders, has been key in all this as they sent me on the first European adventure and I now have the chance to return with them in a few weeks to help out at Thuringen, a week-long stage race in Germany that is "extremely hard and has nice race hotels" and again, is in Germany – my fatherland. When I was over the pond the first time last month I really started to realise how much I like it over there and I honestly didn't want to leave.

The "voice", Dave Towle and me.
Photo ©: Rebecca Much
(Click for larger image)

For starters, if you race four hours in Euoland, you race four hours. You have to pay attention almost the whole time and always try to move up and there are so many occasions where it just starts to go so hard and all I can do is look to the front and wonder who the hell is making the race so god damn hard... Who is even capable of making it that hard? No one looks superhuman on the start line, but I swear there are superhumans everywhere in bike races.

Then you get the experiences of being different places. That's what needs digesting most of all... One week I'm in a tiny town in Germany, walking a dog everyday and trying to entertain myself in a town where the population is 70 percent people over 70 with wiener dogs. The next, I'm in Switzerland paying five dollars for a coffee. Then I'm in a town in France that hosts an insane asylum and after staying there two weeks you assume that the entire world is crazy—people talking to themselves doesn't even phase you. Then I go on a family vacation to visit my dad and step-mom and step-brother in Berlin, where I go to parties with them and their diplomat friends and there are 10 different languages floating around. I try to mix in English, German and Spanish, and speak to people from around the world, my brother and me are plotting our escape the entire time so we can go home and swim across the lake.

It doesn't stop either; the flowing week I'm in Boone, North Carolina, at my best-friend Lauren's wedding and I pretty much have the time of my life for four straight days as I found a group of kids that wanted to do nothing all day but ride bikes, sit in creeks and have fun at night. Completely refreshed I got to Minnesota to race with a select group of team-mates including those making comebacks after crashes (Kathryn) and those who will go for a bike ride and suggest we get popsicles afterward (Gina) and those who will start blaring music in the van in hopes of finding a familiar mournful tune to sing to (Amy). Then you got the staff that will watch storms in a garage with you as the power is out and all in all keep it real.

That was a synopsis of everything that has happened in less than two months and I'm back in Chicago now, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for my riding buddy JT here in the 'Chi' to get home from bike camp so that we can go on the group rides together. They are all pretty much 35+, apart from ourselves, and build up some scrapper bikes (youtube it).

I actually feel like just writing all of that made me feel a little calmer, and that I got it out of my system now it is time to relax, train and get ready for the next stint. The USA National Team is taking me to Czech Republic for the first time near the beginning of July. I am pretty excited about that, as I've never been to the Czech.

My little sister will be home next week in Chicago too and I haven't seen her in a while. Getting out to the east coast is going to have to wait until the fall, but it's the best out there at that time anyhow.

I will leave you with some lyrics from Chi-town rapper Kanye; I encourage you to listen to the song. Its pretty good and all about my hometown

And you say Chi city,
Chi city, Chi city

I'm coming home again
Do you think about me now and then?
Cause I'm coming home again
Being home again


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Rebecca Much/USWCDP