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An interview with Tanya Lindenmuth
By Gerard Knapp
Tanya Lindenmuth, or Tanz as she likes to be known, could be excused for wanting to take a holiday, after all, not everyone has won four American National Women's Sprint Championships in a row. But as Cyclingnews found out, a holiday isn't that high on her list of priorities.
Cyclingnews: Tell us about yourself.
Tanya Lindenmuth: Born in Allentown, in Pasadena, I now live with my Mom in Trexlertown (T-Town as it is affectionately called) about five minutes' ride from the velodrome. I will be 24 on May 25.
CN: When did you get your first bicycle? What was it?
TL: Oh gosh, my beloved Cannondale; my first road bike. I got it from a friend that had outgrown it. My track bike was on loan from my junior coach at the time, and every year since then I see someone new on that frame; it gives me the tingles to think how far I have come. I opted for the Cannondale instead of my driver's license so I was around 16 at the time. I sold it to a young junior rider (I definitely did not outgrow it) but it was time for an upgrade and hopefully she will do the same someday; or maybe she has? I need to check on that.
CN: What made you start track racing?
TL: I used to be a speed roller skater and I had an injury where I wasn't allowed to skate for a while. At such a young age that is like taking away air, so a friend - who is actually like a brother (if we could pick them) - took me to see bike racing. That was all he said, bike, so I thought it was maybe dirt bike or motorcycles but instead it was humans pedalling at dizzying speeds on the simplest of machines. I also saw Lucy Tyler break a record, or at least go for one, that night and the power and aggression was phenomenal. I was hooked and I had to try it, but one snag in that plan, I had to wait until the following season because they were near the end and the free classes to learn how to ride the track (Air Products Developmental Program) were nearly finished. My mom signed me up for the mailing list and secretly thought maybe nothing would come of it, and that skating would be my only desire. She did promise herself that if I still had the interest she would make it work; well I waited for that brochure and I took two classes that next season!
CN: When was your first track event? How did you go?
TL: Now that is painful. I started racing on Saturdays, the day set aside for beginner riders and some Master's events. Our velodrome, Lehigh Valley Velodrome, has a system of points that goes in line with the categories set up on our licenses, so the big goal is to go Saturdays, then Tuesdays, and then the ultimate Friday nights with the Elite and International riders; in any case I got whomped by the chickies, big-time, and had much need for improvement!
CN: Outline a typical week of training for you. How much road work and gym?
TL: I am in the gym three times per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I typically ride there, lift and then ride home; it is only about four miles, or is it six? I leave the house around 9:30am and return by noon or 1pm. During this part of the season, we have been on the track four days a week and any road work is recovery time, so nothing over an hour and a half. Usually an hour on the erg with some spinouts to keep the legs ticking. Lots of double days so very little time for anything else. Therefore, our days are full and we look forward to Sunday. That is the rest day and I try to catch up with myself.
CN: Are there cyclists or athletes who have inspired you over the years?
TL: Lucy Tyler, as mentioned above. And Marty Nothstein has been my biggest inspiration, maybe because I have had the opportunity to train around him and absorb like a little sponge since I started, by the example he sets when he is on his bike; it's time for business! I was in the Dunc Gray Velodrome the night he took the gold in Sydney, and I remember how electric that was and how that did not affect him; he just went after it! So since then I have tried to recreate that type of feeling every time I'm on the bike, no matter how big or small the race.
Kurt Harnet, I just loved his hair! No really, I loved watching him ride. He was so smooth that you couldn't tell when he was really moving until he had passed someone or held them off! Felicia Ballanger, of course, the ultimate example of domination and class! She raced everyone with the same focus and intent even if she was superior to them, that showed she was classy, and also respectful of other riders out there because you just never know; someone could sneak up on you at anytime. Oh, and Darryn Hill for his handling skills.
CN: What has been your favourite racing moment so far?
TL: I would go with my fifth at last year's World Championships in the 500m, I finally put it all together and pulled of a sweet ride, and who knows, maybe if I hadn't breathed in the last few metres, or held it on the black better, I could have had bronze; that's how close the times were.
I think of it as a Rolodex of accomplishments, and once I complete that page, it flips and is waiting for me to fill in the next one; so my favourite moment has yet to come.
CN: Do you prefer match sprinting or the timed events?
TL: On any given day you may get a different answer from me - showing my true Gemini nature - I enjoy both or I wouldn't be here. I am more inclined to say the 500m because it is like pitting me against me, and I enjoy seeing how much I can get out of myself; like how much I can leave out on the track so to speak.
CN: There is a belief that the events where there are riders in a bunch - such as a Madison, Keirin, points race, etc - are the future for track cycling, with the timed events considered too boring to attract crowds outside an Olympics. What are your feelings on this when athletics and swimming world championships are well attended, and they are all timed events?
TL: I can see why people would tend to believe that unless they have seen it in person and in an Elite level. TV doesn't do track racing much justice, only because you don't get a true feeling for the speed; that is hard to convey through the lens. I love watching the pursuits, especially the finals; they are really going for it!
So maybe we need people to have a broader sense of what we do and open their minds a bit. I know that a majority of spectators want a show but all they have to do is watch and they will get one. Just watch them out there and let yourself be sucked in. I have a passion for this sport and all that it entails so I hope they keep timed events as well as the bunch events. How can someone tell me, at the least, Team Sprint isn't interesting?
CN: What do you think is happening with track cycling in the US? Does it require or deserve more support from USA Cycling?
TL: I think it is going in the right direction... I have been fortunate in the fact that I have always been looked after by the "Feds" (USA Cycling) ever since I started, but I have worked for everything that I ever gotten. If there were time standards, I did them. If there was a benchmark, I met it.
That being said I think it requires more support and then the athletes getting that support can earn the deserving part. Does that make sense? Like they support us only so far and then our results get us more support. That sounds fair to me. That is how it is working now with our new standards. We (athletes) need to step up our game and start getting the medals and then we will get the support we deserve. But we also need the opportunities to do so and I believe the "Feds" are doing all they can to insure that is happening in this season and beyond.
CN: How do you survive now as a trackie in the USA? You must rely on support from family, friends and private sponsors.
TL: I have tremendous support from my Mom, mostly verbal these days, as I am capable of looking after myself monetarily, somewhat. I equate it to a big family and we all look after each other, you know whenever I need help, I can get it, and vice-versa. I ride for the FOCUS 2004 Cycling Team and the original five from last year came together to make our bid for Athens, but also to support ourselves instead of relying on friends and family, which still happens and is so appreciated!
Private sponsors are like little gems! They are precious, and at the same time rare. It is easy to be over looked if you are a track rider. So it goes hand in hand like my comments with USA Cycling; put a little bit in and let us do some work to get more out.
Carnac has sponsored me practically since I started, and has never asked for a thing from me, and now I am part of the Oakley family. They are small things but they have great impact on how I perform. Now the money side of things - okay, let's be honest; there is none. That is so hard to write! It sounds awful because it is. That is my only complaint; we need more cash flow. Any older people out there with a lot of cash and in need of a hobby? I have a few suggestions for you...
And like I said before, I am a "Fed" baby. But if we look at it, it takes a village, and that starts with my family; my Mom, who raised me on her own, and my grandparents, who helped get me to those development classes. The coaches/mentors I have met along the way; Alaric Gayfer, Gil Hatton, Bob Schuler, Chris Carmichael, Andrzej Bek, down to my current coaches, John Graham (strength coach - six years) and Des Dickie (cycling coach - about four years). And then on to the friends who are way too many to count; all of that support got me to where I am now, and has never been forgotten even if I - or we - have outgrown some of those relationships.
Favourite training ride:
A recovery ride I do in Colorado Springs, Colorado called Manitou Springs. It's a bit up and down but worth it! I know it is a funny thought, this sprinter butt going uphill. Or if I'm at home (what a novel idea!) the coffee shop ride in T-town during the summer.
Favourite post-ride food:
Smooothies in the summer or anytime for that matter, strawberries, bananas, protein powder, yummm!
Latest CD you bought? Film you saw? Book you read?
Saw the movie Old School recently - a ridiculous film if you want to laugh and have no content what so ever - go for the matinee, it's cheaper. Now "The Recruit", that was good! The last book was "2nd Chance" by James Patterson, and the last CD; "Justified" by Justin Timberlake
If you had one race left in your career - who would it be against?
I'm having a hard time envisioning one race left, that seems so harsh and, well, final. I would want it to be Svetlana Grankovskia; she can be crafty and knows how to fix her mistakes (if she makes any) and so that would make it an interesting best of three.