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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

December 19, 2008

Toto and surgery

By Missy Erickson

Good to have a training partner
Photo ©: USWCDP
(Click for larger image)

I've never been one to sit on the sidelines and watch. In fact, even the thought of watching crazy college kids riding bikes through sloppy mud puddles, jumping over barriers and running for their lives, without participating myself, is by far one of the hardest things to comprehend, but that is exactly what I have been doing these past several weeks.

I'm sitting at this moment in the hotel room in either Kansas or Missouri for the Cyclo-cross National Championships. We pulled in this morning around 1:30 a.m. after a long drive from the lovely city of Durango, Colorado. Although the drive was long, a mountain of college final reviews helped pass the time.

The reason I have yet to be introduced into the ‘psycho' world of cyclo-cross can be traced back to the Fort Lewis College Squawker Mountain Bike Race. Not only was it the race, but also the six times I had previously taken my mountain bike out on a little adventure. It is not the fault of my Giant bicycle, it isn't the fault of the USWCDP director, Michael Engleman, and it isn't the fault of the people who attempted to fully engulf me in the ropes of mountain biking in such a short time. It's simply a miscommunication between my brain function and my physical movement. In simpler words, it's very important to remember correctly which is the rear brake–especially going down a rock section with a right turn at the bottom.

Since then, I was in a cast for four weeks hoping that would fix the torn ligament within my wrist, but unfortunately that is not the case. This Wednesday I will be, once again, going in to get my wrist looked at, but this time I will be going in for surgery. As much as I wish I was competing this year at the cyclo-cross nationals for the first time, I am awaiting my appointment that will hopefully correct this injury so I can once ride again.

Cyclo-cross is a crazy sport. In Durango I watched about three of the Squawker Cup races in the dry dirt, but in the mud it is a whole different story. My teammates are coming back to the trailer with these huge grins on their faces speaking of how much fun the course is, while in the meantime, I will tell myself that next year I will be out there with them. Someday I will ride a 'cross bike.

Colorado is Beautiful!
Photo ©: USWCDP
(Click for larger image)

However, me must not forget Thanksgiving! During this time I had about two weeks where I had no cast, no school and I could ride all I wanted. I must say that spending a whole week with a girl from Mississippi and Kmac (Kristin McGrath) climbing up a mountain to some 10,000 feet was by far the coolest thing I have ever done. Although I did not climb the whole way between Durango and Silverton, I did climb farther than I ever have in my whole entire life and it was absolutely spectacular. At the time, when Michael told me I was done and to get in the car, I will admit that not being able to descend down the other side was something I was not anywhere near happy about, but as I fell asleep on the way back to Durango, I completely understood that he just might know a little more than me.

I spent a week in Dolores with Lauren Hall, from Mississippi, Michael and Missy (the dog). After destroying the lamp and coffee table, Michael's house was completely full from our bags, boxes, bikes and bodies. Coffee...mmmmm. It was an amazing week of riding, laughing, eating and just enjoying ourselves. Not to mention, thank you Bob Roll for the amazing pies (and I met him too!). That was pretty cool.

As I am still sitting in the hotel room listening to the wind howl, a memory I do not miss from the great state of Minnesota, Ruthie Matthes, FLC Cycling Head Coach, continues to wonder what Toto is possibly angry about and saves the lives of ladybugs we find getting lost within our room. Amongst this madness the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team prevails and today they will ride through the mud and dirt, wake up tomorrow morning and do it all over again.

Although I am not playing in the mud with them, I continue to believe that next year I will be. Like I said, it is not the fault of anyone else. I like to think it is God telling me, "maybe you shouldn't be doing this right now?" So, I will go through my lovely surgical operation and this road season I will ride my heart out knowing that I will be on my bike and nothing then is going to stop me.

For now I stand on the outside of the tape and watch the madness continue, lap after lap, feeling my own adrenaline pump through my veins as Dave Towle continues his reign over the microphone (p.s. he's probably one of the coolest people I have met this weekend ), knowing soon I will be out there. I shall wait my turn, ride the trainer, go home to Minnesota and spend some quality time with my parental supervisors until this horrid cast comes off and I shall again resume my position on a bicycle.

Photography

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Images by US Women's Cycling Development Program