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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
(Click for larger image)

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

July 31, 2008

Flame burning bright

By Amy Dombroski

A team to keep my head on straight.
Photo : USWCDP
(Click for larger image)

My 2007-2008 cyclo-cross season started in September, two weeks following my final road race. My cyclo-cross season ended on January 27, 2008 and my first road race was February 21, 2008. In the time since I started my 2007 road season, I have had a total of two weeks off of the bike. That sounds like a recipe for a disastrous implosion or explosion.

In the two weeks leading to the Cascade Cycling Classic I was a flame sputtering out because there was no more candlewick. I was the piece of 'potato' that has been sitting at the bottom of the fryer ever since they had its grand opening. In those two weeks I had some serious recovery rides and downtime, so I wanted to test my legs and hopefully open them up for Cascade. A couple days before leaving, I did a mountain bike race that I like to race annually. It was with the same course, same conditions, lighter bike, lighter helmet and my time was twenty minutes slower than last year. However, I was not ready to admit to myself that I was "burned baby burned."

I would like to say that I was smart and it was my determination and strong mental fortitude that pulled me out of the fryer's oven. Or maybe it was that I did my praying and reading of bike race bibles, and now I'm a born again bike racer with a new candlewick to keep my flame burning bright. I'm afraid I can only attribute one percent of the credit to the aforementioned. The other 99 percent is a culmination of things.

Two classy seasoned veterans
Photo : USWCDP
(Click for larger image)

I couldn't have asked for a better team in my inaugural season as a professional. My worry, stress, tired legs and drained mind were quickly swept away when I was reunited with my team at our host house in Bend, Oregon (and we were greeted with pizza and chocolate chip cookies)... It was the energy, curiosity and enthusiasm in a team-mate's first stage race (not to say that I'm not new to this!), which she proceeded to annihilate. It was a seasoned veteran's focus in earning a much-deserved Olympic spot. It was witnessing a team-mate falling-up and growing insurmountably stronger with every setback. It was seeing perfection before my eyes in a team-mate's well timed peak. It was the day-in and day-out dedication of our staff, who assuredly are not making the 'big bucks' with women's cycling.

What else? My friends in Boulder, Colorado, are the floaties that kept me from drowning. It took a quiet and dark cave to spend 12 hours a day studying the back of my eyelids. It took lean red meat that the Farkington's had hunted and prepared. It took hours of new and uplifting music. It took two massages per week from my massage therapist, and borrowing a car to get there. It took getting off the road and onto trails leading into the mountains.

I'm not saying that I was smart in my racing schedule and I'm darn skippy that I'll be taking a quality break before my 2008-2009 cyclo-cross season. However, after today's ride I know the flame is still burning and the fryer has been cleaned out. Some lucky customer just got that five-year-old slice of fried goodness.


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Images by USWCDP