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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

October 11, 2008

Learning the mountain bike trade

By Missy Erickson

Missy Erickson: "I think I'm getting this college thing down."
Photo : Missy Erickson
(Click for larger image)

My mountain bike is dirty. It is mostly just dusty and it is because I seem to enjoy eating dirt for dinner. But I guess it tastes good because my body wants to get up and do it more. I've been out three times on my lovely baby mountain bicycle and they have been quite interesting indeed. Let's start with ride number one.

So as you may or may not know, Fort Lewis College has a phenomenal mountain bike team. Because I had never been on a mountain bike before, I thought it would be intelligent to go out for the first time with an experienced rider from the team. Little did I know, I would find myself in a rather large hole. My first mishap happened to be about five minutes into the ride, which I will say also involved riding from campus to the beginning of the trail.

My "mishaps" included finding myself rolling with my bike still attached to my body down the side of a steep "ridge" toward the road below, finding myself in a rather large bushel of thistles, ascending only to hit a rather large boulder and flipping slightly backward and, the grand finale, completely botching a corner, running over a bush which lead straight into a four to five-foot trench I had no idea existed. But I kept riding. Ignoring the fact that the next day I would be in need of a tetanus shot.

My second ride I ended up finding the Durango Junior Development girlies riding around the pump track. That was a very humbling experience. I've realised there is so much I need to work on. Those little girls were going all over the place and they had so much energy. They weren't afraid of anything. They definitely are very talented and it would be my pleasure to ride with them again.

Surprisingly this mountain bike riding reminds me of Nordic skiing. I'm pretty sure my coach, George, could vouch for you all that I was prone to falling randomly. Like skiing I am sure riding takes a lot of practice, and patience, which I am continuing to work on. I skied on the high school team in my hometown for five years and it was so much fun. The summer after my second year on the team, he told me I should get on a bike so I did, and that's the reason I'm here today.

"Every bit of knowledge I know he's told me once upon a time."

- Erickson reflects on her couch's advice

He spent every summer day with me teaching me the ups and downs and everything else for the last five years. Every bit of knowledge I know he's told me once upon a time. No matter how many times I would mess up or not listen he never gave up on me. He had patience, but a very limited amount. He's Cuban if you can imagine. But he's still my best friend and always will be.

Missy Erickson's pet fish, Moby Dick.
Photo : Missy Erickson
(Click for larger image)

Skiing was a brutal sport. I remember my senior year at the Minnesota state Nordic ski meet where the temperature was well below -40F and the snow was quite awful. Those days make you never want to ski again. Like those road races that never end and you've bonked so hard you can't possibly make it. But you keep on going anyway. Likewise ill keep skiing, and of course ill keep riding.

The Durango Fall Blaze was September 27 here on campus and I am so thankful for all the riders that showed up and participated. Because of them, I am attending college here at Fort Lewis through the Tom Danielson Cycling Scholarship fundraised by the fall blaze. So thank you!

I find myself getting a little homesick now and then, mostly at night. I got a new friend the other day. His name is Moby Dick. He's a goldfish that lives in a one-quart [946ml] bowl. Although he isn't very intelligent, he's the closest thing I've got to my coach back home so I just pretend he listens although I think his continual running into the glass doesn't help his hearing at all. In that case, he might be as blind as I am if he doesn't stop.

So far my new skills have increased to six days on the track and three days on a mountain bike. I bet I'm making him proud. And Moby continues to run into the glass. What a smart little fish.


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Images by Missy Erickson