cycling utah March 1999
Everyone benefits from larger women’s fields
By Angela Snyder
The destiny of women's road cycling in Utah... A full mean extreme of some serious ladies hammering the pavement?
The 1998 State Championship Road Race had a category Pro 1,2,3 Women's field of about 15, and none of us were on the same team. Real unity may be lacking, but the women's fields in Utah are growing and that was evident in the surprisingly large turnouts of category 4's last year.
What can the local road cycling community expect from the women this year? Look for a new women's team, a rocket comeback by a former National Team Member and some new faces. And bring a chair, because you might even find excitement in staying to watch the women race this year.
Women racers in Utah are getting serious about their sport, with coaches and training schedules comparable to those of male racers. Race promoters will have to re-think their marketing strategies, because the females in Utah want their own races, their own clubs and their own fully sponsored teams. They're not talking about doing shorter races; they are talking about protein powder, heart rates, tactics, saddle sores and the International Women's Challenge. They are winter training in St. George, riding their trainers for five hours at a time and traveling to early season races in Arizona and California. Get ready Utah, because your women road racers are going to hammer everything that steps in their way!
The key to retaining this span of growth is keeping the fields competitive and exciting to the level needed to motivate women to race. The timing is even more important as members of the elite Bingham's team go their separate ways this year. The need for new female racers and new teams is needed to ensure competitive fields at races and with the same dedication that Bingham's had.
Missing this year will be Tana Stone, who dominated last season and will be riding pro for Saturn. Stone will be busy with a national and European race schedule.
Her former teammates, Kris Walker, Kelly Crawford and Laurie Tavares, will change direction as well. Walker is leaving racing to have her first child. Crawford says, "It's time for a break and to enjoy other things." And Tavares will be riding for the 9th and 9th Team, formally Magellan's.
They have been exceptional role models for female racers who witnessed their accomplishments and were relieved when they didn't show up at a race. One has to wonder, if one female team can accomplish so much locally, why haven't other female teams followed?
It's hard to find a club in Utah that supports a women's team with the exception of Utah Premier. Their female segment is growing and they have taken it a step further to support 13-year-old junior Ashley Brown, a speed skater who started racing for cross training at the recommendation of her coach. This year Brown will race because she actually likes it.
But most clubs this season will only have 1 or 2 female racers lined up and Team Rhodes, formally Einstein's, has none.
A new team this season, Team Nissan, is for women only, has some serious talent and an agenda that includes a composite team for The HP Women's Challenge.
Former National Team member Heather Albert is making a comeback with Team Nissan. She made the national team in 1997 and has completed the Women's Challenge twice with a stage win. Albert turned heads with her finishes in 1996 and 1997 before she was forced to leave her dream due to chronic pneumonia.
But she vows to fight back with all she can. "Even if it takes me a little longer to get to the top, I'll get there."
Michele Wiedner has left the Logan Race Club to ride for Team Nissan. Wiedner has only been racing one year. She placed in the top three places in almost every Cat. 1,2,3, race she did. Jill Smith brings a wealth of experience to Team Nissan, acting as team leader. Her 10-year racing career has been spent mostly racing solo, but is excited to be on a real team this year.
It's only fair to remind those who comment, "women can't race together" or "women don't need their own teams" or that "a Women's Cat. 4 race is a waste of time," that supporting women's racing helps the entire sport. Introducing young women to the sport, promoting Category 4 races and giving financial support to women who race will improve their fields.
WHAT MOTIVATES WOMEN TO RACE?
"The feeling when you cross the finish line - I did it. Faster than last time! The exhilaration; the sweat; the pain; the fun! Yeah the fun!" Daphne Wilhelm, Team Nissan.
"I am very competitive and I enjoy the challenge of racing, both with the tactics and the physical demands of the sport. I also like to race so that Chris and I can share the whole race scene experience." Laurie Tavares, 9th and 9th.
"It's fun to be on a team and seeing my fitness improve is motivation to train for racing." Marsha Adams, Utah Premier.
"Because I can." Lisa Peck, Team Nissan.
"I get my competitiveness and drive from my father, he loves to watch me race." Teresa Eggersten, X-Men.
"It's my life and my passion and I need to loose eight pounds." Jill Smith, Team Nissan.