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Amanda Miller’s Ryan Collegiate All-Star Experience

April 29, 2010

Amanda Miller raced for the 2008 Ryan Collegiate All-Star team in the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Since then, she has procured a professional contract on a top-flight cycling team and has even raced across the pond, strengthening her legs and learning the ways of true professional cycling. She reflects back on what the Ryan Collegiate and Nature Valley Grand Prix experiences meant to her and her career:

In 2008, I was given the opportunity to race with the Ryan Collegiate All-Star team at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. The 2008 season was my first year racing collegiate. I heard about this composite team coming into nationals and made it one of my season goals to make it on the squad. My collegiate racing experience in 2008 taught me the basics of racing with a team. At Colorado State University, we had great mentors and teammates to support us.

Nature Valley Grand Prix was my first “pro” level stage race of my career. Was I nervous? Of course! Our team director, John Barron, was amazing though. The team was run as a professional squad on a very low stress basis. All we had to do as riders was race our bicycles. The team even had their own mechanic and soigneur. Prior to the start of each stage we had a team meeting. This is where John gave us the team plan for the day. It was really exciting to have a game plan and specific jobs for the day.

The Ryan Collegiate All Star team was a great stepping stone for me to take in my cycling career. Prior to the experience, I was just a local collegiate racer. In 2009, I was presented with a contract by the LipSmacker Professional women’s cycling team. I also spent a month in France racing for the U.S. National Development team. Now I am racing for the only women’s UCI team in the United States, Team TIBCO/To the Top. I don’t think I would have been able to progress as quickly as I did without the help of the Ryan Collegiate All-Star team. Not only did it provide me with experience, but it also gave me a level of confidence and motivation. After the experience, I felt that I actually did belong in the women’s professional peloton and that it was something I wanted to pursue as a career.


Amanda Miller’s Stage One/Two Report

June 11, 2009

We’re lucky enough to have been given access to Amanda Miller’s website and race reports. Amanda races for Lipsmackers Professional Women’s Cycling team and was so kind to submit her thoughts from yesterday’s two stages. Enjoy!

This morning was the St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial. We woke up to moist air and damp pavement. It was raining here at our host house in Stillwater. Fortunately, it was dry at the course in St. Paul. It did start raining some before more start though. I was off at 8:40am. Ouch! I think I was the 20th rider to go. I hopped on the rollers around 7:50 and started my warm-up. I didn’t get a great warm-up in because I needed to pre-check my bike position, stop by the bathroom one last time, and change my wheels.

After a small issue airing up my front wheel, I headed back to the start. Rolled up to the check-in area and made it through. I stood there for a few minutes while they called a bunch of numbers, other than mine. Finally, they started calling my number. I had 15seconds on the ramp. Go figure, I couldn’t get clipped in. I was pretty frazzled at the start, but tried to gain composure as I started. I found my rhythm and went. The course was flat and fast going out. There were some tricky sections with lots of pot holes in the S-curve. I should have pre-ridden the turn around again, because I went way too fast into it. The barriers came a bit to quick and I had to come to almost a complete stop. I sprinted my way out of the turn around and got back into the rhythm.

I saw I was gaining on my 30 second person and tried to catch her. I closed the gap even more once we got to the hill, but never closed it completely. The hill was pretty brutal but went by fast. When I came across the line, they said I had the 4th best time of the day. Sweet! However, I knew this wouldn’t last. I was pretty early to go off and there were a lot of fast girls behind me. My time was 15:08 which was good enough for 25th place.

Kristin Armstrong rode a 13:48:55. Alison Powers road at 14:01:14 and Errine Willock rode a 14:36:95. My teammate Anne finished 4th with a time of 14:36 something. Our guest rider Jessica Phillips rode a 14:52 for 13th place. Our other guest rider Edwige Pitel rode a 15:07 for 23rd place. Toni rode a 15:43 for 51st place and Kacey rode a 16:10 for 76th place.

After a lazy afternoon of lounging around, we headed over to the crit course in downtown St. Paul. It was about a 30min drive from our host house. We left plenty early, mostly out of boredom. After a quick coffee break on the course, we sat down for the team meeting. The plan was to stay safe. This crit is notoriously known for being a crash fast, especially in wet conditions. Lucky for us, the sun was out and the course was dry. Either way, it was stage 2 and we didn’t want to get into trouble. The course was a square. The backside was a slight uphill, and the finish was a slight downhill. There were lots of man hole covers to manuever so it was a pretty technical course. The 2nd to last corner was pretty tight and you had to be careful not to be pushed into the fence.

Anne and I both got call ups. Anne was called up because she is the reigning Canadian National Time Trial champion. I got called up for being a 2008 Ryan Collegiate All Star alumni. Pretty sweet! 118 riders started the crit, so start position was very helpful. The gun went off and Kristin Armstrong strung things out. Webcor, Tibco, and Colavita did a good job at keeping the pace high. I worked on holding my position in the top 20 riders the entire race. The race was pretty uneventful. There were a few attempted attacks, but nothing stuck for more than a lap. The final laps came and there was never an organized lead out taking place. All of the LipSmacker team finished the race and made the time cut.

Today is the Cannon Falls road race. It’s a 70mile road race with 4 finishing circuits. We don’t start until 5:30, so it’s another lazy day up until then. Ah, the life of a bike racer :)


It’s Miller Time!

May 27, 2009

Amanda Miller, a member of the Lip Smacker Cycling Team, has followed a non-traditional path to cycling. She started riding a bike in the spring of 2004 to get in shape for her high school senior year of basketball. After breaking her wrist (twice!) and becoming hooked on cycling, she opted out of playing basketball and bought a mountain bike. Shortly after that, Amanda got a job at the local bike shop and eventually bought her first road bike. Amanda did her first race in April of 2005 and hasn’t stopped since. Amanda is currently studying Natural Resource Management at Colorado State University and will graduate in December of 2009. Amanda raced for Colorado State University and placed 4th in the Division I individual omnium at Collegiate Road Nationals in May 2008. Following this great result, Amanda was invited to participate in the Nature Valley Grand Prix with the Ryan Collegiate All-Stars team.

She now finds herself among the rotating professional cyclists that are posting on the Tria/NVGP blog. Enjoy!

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is just around the corner. Last year (2008) was my first year participating in the race. I was selected to be a member of the Ryan Collegiate All Stars composite team. This composite team was based off individual ominium results at the collegiate national championship held in Fort Collins, CO. I finished fourth in the Division I omnium and was excited to be given the opportunity to race for this team. NVGP was my first stage race. It is pretty special to me because I am from a small town in Southeastern Iowa (Mt. Union,), originally.

I am now living in Fort Collins, CO, so it was nice to come back to the Midwest for such a prestigious event. Everything I had heard about the race coming into it was true. This is one hard, fun race! I had a blast. The fields were huge, the spectators were everywhere, and the courses were brutal. Things started pretty slow for me, with a rain soaked criterium on the first day. I got pulled from the field and was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. Fortunately, the officials decided not to count the criterium and let everyone start the next day. The hardest race of the week was the 90+ mile road race. It was super windy that day and I was put into the “gutter” for most of the cross wind sections. I learned a lot of lessons that day that will hopefully benefit me this year. My favorite race of the week was the Stillwater Criterium. I loved the hill. It was also my best race of the week. The spectators lining the hill were amazing. I am really looking forward to coming back to NVGP this year!

I am racing for the LipSmacker Professional Women’s Cycling team. This is my first year on a professional team. I have been doing a lot of traveling, and am loving it. Though it sometimes takes a toll on a person’s body, I’ve been seeing many places that I never would have seen without cycling. I am very grateful to have the opportunity. I took this past spring semester off to travel to France for a month of racing with the USA National development squad. Usually, I am a full time student at Colorado State University and a part-time bicycle shop employee at Peloton Cycles in Fort Collins, CO. Myself and the rest of the LipSmacker team are looking forward to racing in Minnesota soon. Hope to see you all there!!