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Kowalski’s Collegiate All-Star Erica Zaveta Discusses 2013 Nature Valley Grand Prix

May 23, 2013

Erica Zaveta is returning to the Nature Valley Grand Prix for her 2nd year on the Kowalski’s Collegiate All-Star Team. Erica sits down with Jimmie Kaska, of Sports Radio 1400, and discusses her past experiences, challenges, and what she expects as she returns to the Grand Prix.

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Rising Star, Emily Georgeson, Talks about 2013 NVGP

May 16, 2013

Sports radio 1400 interviews Emily Georgeson. Emily is a young upcoming racer from Wisconsin. She qualified to race in the Nature Valley Grand Prix through the Nature Valley Pro Chase amateur qualifier series. Emily talks about what it will be like to race in front of the home crowd. Also what inspired her to enter racing and her goals as a racer.

 

Want to hear more Sports Radio 1400?  Check out  the Water Cooler with Jimmie Kaska here! http://www.sportsradio1400.com/pages/Watercooler.html

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How to Recover After A Long Bike Ride

June 14, 2012

With the Menomonie Gran Fondo this past Saturday, we thought it would be nice to a deeper look at how you can recover once you are done with a ride like that.

By:  Jane Schwartz Harrison, RD, Nutritionist

MyOptumHealth.com

Congratulations! You just finished a long and challenging ride. But wait! Don’t abandon your nutrition needs just yet. The right mix of recovery foods will go a long way to helping you feel less sore, less stiff, and less tired in the hours and days that follow. A smart nutrition strategy includes a follow-up plan that will re-feed your glycogen stores and repair muscle tissue. Make sure you follow these five tips for prime recovery:

Timing Counts

The minutes immediately after you’re off the bike (when there is increased blood flow to your muscles) is when your body is most receptive to refueling.

  • Aim to eat within 15 to 30 minutes, and do not wait longer than 45 minutes.This is essential!
  • Then continue to eat at regular intervals for the next 24 hours to keep up replenishment.

Carbs Are Key, Protein Secondary

Carbs are the most important recovery nutrient. They stimulate the release of insulin, a hormone that helps build muscle and restock glycogen stores.

  • Aim for 1 to 1.5 grams of carb per kilogram of body weight in the first 45 minutes. Keep this up for about four hours after the event, or until you eat a larger meal.
  • For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, eat 70 to 100 grams of carbs per hour. One gram of carb has four calories, so that translates to about 300 to 400 calories of carbs as soon as possible after you get off the bike. You can break it up by having something 15 minutes after you stop, and again in another 15 to 30 minutes.
  • For the following 24 hours, your carb intake should be about six to 10 grams per kg of body weight (450-750 grams of carb for a 150 pound person).
  • Adding some protein to your carb can improve your recovery, but don’t overdo the protein (or fat) in the first couple hours, as that can slow the absorption of the carbs.

Smart Recovery Meal Ideas

Here are some meal/snack ideas that contain about 70 to 80 grams of carbs and eight to 15 grams of protein:

  • Large fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt
  • Peanut butter sandwich and large carton of juice
  • Bagel and yogurt
  • 16 oz 100% juice and two ounces of low-fat cheese
  • Chocolate milk and a one or two granola bars
  • ¼ cup raisins, a large banana, and 16 oz. milk
  • Large baked potato and cottage cheese
  • Recovery drink with mostly carbs and nine to 10 grams of protein

Save higher protein intakes until at least two hours after the event. This could include chicken breast, fish, lean steak, high protein drink, etc.

Replace Fluids and Electrolytes

Replacing fluids lost by sweating is critical in order to prevent dehydration.

  • Your goal will be to drink on schedule during your ride and lose no more than 2 percent of your body weight (three pounds for a 150 pound person).
  • During training, practice weighing yourself before and after to get a sense of how much fluid you lose. For every pound lost, you need to drink 16 oz of fluid.
  • A pound of sweat contains about 90mg of potassium and 400 to 700mg of sodium.
  • As long as your recovery food or drink contains some salt or potassium, you don’t need anything special. One banana has 350 mg. Even foods like a cup of yogurt (520mg), large potato (800mg), cup of OJ (475mg), etc have plenty of potassium.
  • Sodium can also be found in most foods, from bagels and sandwiches to dairy and granola bars – just don’t choose low-sodium foods after the ride and you should be fine!
  • Don’t rely on sports drinks for potassium unless they specifically have it included. Check labels for sodium, as they vary.

With this recovery plan in place, you’ll be ready for another long ride in no time!

Resources

Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000;100(12):1543-1556.

Hargreaves M, Hawley JA, Jeukendrup A. Pre-exercise carbohydrate and fat ingestion: Effects on metabolism and performance. J Sports Sci. 2004;22(1):31-38.

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Equal Opportunity for All

May 14, 2012

The Nature Valley Grand Prix has always been a strong supporter of women’s cycling, but we thought it might be nice to share an outsider’s perspective of our race and its impact on women’s cycling.

Since she has been involved with the Nature Valley Grand Prix almost from the beginning, we asked Giana Roberge–former director of Saturn Professional Cycling team, World Champion time trialist, inductee in the International Cycling Hall of Fame, and passionate voice for women’s cycling–to share her thoughts.
When I first heard about Nature Valley Grand Prix, I was the director for the Saturn Cycling Team. A very nice voice at the end of the phone line, introducing himself as Dave LaPorte, pleaded with me to send some of the Saturn women who were not participating in the HP Women’s Challenge to a new race in MN. He offered what a lot of promoters were not at the time: housing, help with travel, prize money, and equal promotion of the women’s teams to that of the men’s. I was intrigued.  I had three women I could send and in June they traveled in MN to participate in what was to become one of the top women’s races in the country.

That was 2001. Saturn won both the men’s race with Frank McCormack and the women’s race with Suzanne Sonye. The Saturn women returned with good reports of the race.  It was mostly criterium style racing but the crowds were enthusiastic and the community was very supportive of the idea of a big race in the community. Saturn received some very useful press from attending the event; all in all it was a homerun: my sponsors and athletes were happy with the event. In my mind it was an early success.

Two weeks later Dave called me for feedback.  I was taken aback.  A promoter taking the time to ask me what he could do better?  He wanted my commitment to send a full squad the following year.  At the time I asked him to move the race so it wouldn’t sit over the HP race.  I asked him to support the teams with free entries, travel, gas, meals, and housing.  With smaller team budgets, a race offering assistance to the teams rather than prize money would help to get riders to MN.  I wanted a competitive field for my team to race in.  What I wanted from Dave was the same treatment we received when we traveled to Europe for a UCI World Cup or Tour.  Make it as financially feasible as possible for as many teams as possible to travel to MN and the competition would be then be world class.  It would take time, and over time, it has.

Later that same fall, the cycling community received the sad news that HP would not renew their contract for the HP Women’s Challenge.  Again my phone rang with Dave asking me how he could make his race the new June destination for women bike racers. I wanted to work with this promoter, as I also wanted to grow women’s cycling. His eagerness to grow the women’s side of the race was new to me.  I sent him a wish list of what my sponsors would like from a race, what my riders would want and what I wanted as a Director.  Some of these ideas included a women’s summit, an outreach program to women in the community, travel assistance, an easy housing support system, lots of media support, challenging courses, and a venue which allowed our sponsors to interact with the crowds in the Midwest.  It was a lot to ask.

It took a few months but Dave was relentless in his pursuit of growing the race.  His sponsors rose to the challenge and the following year Nature Valley Grand Prix became the destination for women bike racers in the month of June.  Over the years Dave and his amazing staff have worked tirelessly to ensure women bike racers have extraordinary courses to test themselves, sponsors have tangible returns to utilize, and team management has a tremendous support system to make the race accessible to every team and every rider – not just the ones with the big budgets.

Over the years, some of the greatest women athletes in world have tested themselves at Nature Valley Grand Prix. Some of the “greats” include Kristin Armstrong, Ina Teutenberg, Petra Rossner, Georgina Bronzini, Lyne Bessette, Christin Thornburn, Katie Mactier and Amber Neben.

But the bigger story is that of the women who are not household cycling names but those who are the foot soldiers of women’s cycling.  It is the story of these women that needs to be told when talking about the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  These are-the women who work 40 hours a week in “normal jobs” who carve out time from their families and their jobs to train and race, and who hold women like Kristin Armstrong in awe.  These women have stood at the line with Olympians, World Champions, World Cup and Tour winners, they have tested themselves on the same courses, side by side with the women who have worked to create our cycling history. Nature Valley Grand Prix is also about these women, who have had the opportunity to race with the best of the best for several days; an opportunity not to be had here in the US without Dave LaPorte and Nature Valley.  To hear the crowds in the Twin Cities screaming for the winners, to see your team’s jersey on a baseball card, to be able to be on the radio, TV or the newspaper is available to ALL women who participate at the Nature Valley Grand Prix – not just the “Queens” of the sport.  It is truly an equal opportunity for all.

Nature Valley Grand Prix has supported all facets of women’s cycling: athletes, sponsors, and management.  I will look to the 2012 edition of Nature Valley Grand Prix to indicate who some of the next great women in cycling will be, as well as a point in history when women and men racers are treated equally.  At the 2012 Nature Valley Grand Prix every woman will have an opportunity to experience what is like to be treated as the Champion bike racer she is.

Giana Roberge
http://TeamSpeedQueen.com

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Training Tips for the Menomonie Gran Fondo & Spectator Rides

May 3, 2012

By Jonas Carney, Performance Director
Optum Pro Cycling Team

A milestone in the life of any avid cyclist is riding in a major event like the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival’s Gran Fondo rides in Menomonie, WI, June 16. While riding 65 or 85 miles in a day may sound extreme to a non-cyclist, you can do it too! Almost any novice cyclist can complete a Gran Fondo ride if they follow a consistent training routine. The key is to start your program early to give your body a chance to respond to the training plan and not wait until the last minute to train. If you are not up to the challenge of a “Big Ride” this year, give yourself a chance to succeed on your own terms by participating in the shorter distance Menomonie Spectator Rides, which are 32 or 15 miles in length!

There are 4 key success factors to have a fun and rewarding Gran Fondo experience:

• The right equipment
• The right training
• The right food
• The right attitude

Equipment
The right equipment means comfort and functionality. Your bike should fit you well and you should be familiar with it. If you aren’t sure about fit, have your local bike professional provide a fit-assessment. A visit to the local bike shop will also identify any mechanical issues with your bike. Don’t plan to ride a new or a borrowed bike on your first Gran Fondo ride. Consider having a tune-up before the ride, and carry a spare tube and patch kit, tools, a pump and knowledge of how to use them. Other essential equipment includes:

• A helmet that fits appropriately (must be worn to be effective)
• Water bottles and cages
• Energy drink and snacks for the ride
• Cycling clothing, including shoes, shorts, gloves and rain gear
• Sunglasses and sunscreen

Training
The core of your training should be endurance training. If you start your training at least 12 weeks before the ride, you will have ample time to prepare for the Gran Fondo. If you already ride more than five hours a week, you will need far less time to prepare. While most of your rides will be at about 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), add two days of interval training, where you push hard for several minutes – up to 85% MHR. Hills are a great way to add interval training to your ride. And don’t forget to allow one day per week for recovery. If you can only ride four to five days a week, don’t do your rest days consecutively. A sample training schedule may look like this:

• Saturday: 1-2 hour ride with 30 minutes of hard effort
• Sunday: 1-2 hour ride at steady pace (65% MHR)
• Monday: Rest
• Tuesday: 1-1.5 hour ride with hills
• Wednesday: Rest or 1-hour easy recovery ride
• Thursday: 1-1.5 hours with interval training
• Friday: Rest or 30-minute easy recovery ride

More Training Tips
• Maintain a cadence of 80 to 100 revolutions per minute
• Increase your mileage as you get closer to the Gran Fondo, no more than 10% at a time.
• Ride with friends, family or your local club to increase your level of comfort riding in larger group.
• Plan a 50- or 60-mile ride at least two weeks before the century to gauge your fitness
• Taper your mileage a week before the century. During that week you may even reduce your riding to one or two days of an easy five to 10-mile spin. Also, try to get plenty of sleep.

In the next blog, I’ll cover Nutrition and Attitude as you approach the day of the Gran Fondo rides. So, stay tuned!

Get out and ride!
Jonas Carney
Performance Director

Optum Pro Cycling Team

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Nature Valley Grand Prix On Versus Sunday

June 29, 2011

Minneapolis – The daily excitement and thrilling conclusion to this year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix will be chronicled on Sunday, July 3, at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT on Versus, immediately following the network’s rebroadcast of Tour de France Stage 2.

The 13th annual edition of the top event on USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar featured a surprising outcome to a women’s race that included reigning world road champion Giorgia Bronzini, Olympic time trial champion and four-time Nature Valley Grand Prix winner Kristin Armstrong and past world time trial champion Amber Neben.

“Even for fans who attended the races in person or followed the live streams on the internet, this program is a chance to put all of the pieces together,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. “For everyone else, this is an opportunity for them to see some of the best professional cycling in the United States showcased in a half-hour broadcast.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a 10-day celebration of bicycling that includes amateur and professional racing and community events. The Festival is a volunteer-run event with all profits donated to the pediatric hospice at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. For more information, visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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World Champion Bronzini Wins Stage; Armstrong Stays in Yellow

June 16, 2011

strong>By Cynthia Lou, Nature Valley Grand Prix
St. Paul, Minn. – World road champion Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D’Asolo presented by Cooking Light) won Wednesday night’s rainy and crash-filled St. Paul Downtown Criterium in an exciting sprint finish, while Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) retained the Nature Valley Grand Prix overall lead.

Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan) and Chloe Hoskings (HTC-Highroad) rounded out the Stage 2 podium in second and third, respectively.

As the women warmed up, the weather quickly turned from sunny and warm to windy and rainy, leaving them to make last minute adjustments to tire pressures. Tension built as knowing glances were passed between teammates while the national anthem played and the officials made their final announcements.

Fortunately the rain subsided about 15 minutes into the race, and the second half of the hour-long race unfolded under clear skies. The road started to dry, but not before several crashes happened, including one that took down about 30 riders.

There was fierce competition for the time bonuses, the first which happened with 23 laps to go. Hosking, Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12), and Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad) soaked up the first round of bonuses earning five seconds, three seconds and one second, respectively.

With 20 laps to go, a break formed that included riders Miller, Tamayo, Olds, and Leah Kirchmann and Joelle Numainville (Colavita Forno D’Asolo). Their lead ticked up to a 14-second gap and lasted 10 of the 28 total laps.

As the break started to absorb time bonuses and stretch its lead, it became clear to the Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 squad that it had to start reeling it back in.

“There was a break that got off that we weren’t excited about,” explained Armstrong. “With the conditions, it was single-file all night long. It was really difficult for our team to get together and chase down another team. That was frustrating. There was a point when I came up to help my teammates to finish and close the gap. After that, we just made sure there wasn’t another attack that went off and stayed off. The energy we expended to close that break was not something we wanted to do twice. People are out to race against us. We have three of the top five, and it makes for hard racing.”

With the peloton together for the final laps, teams began setting up their sprinters.

“There was a pretty solid lead out from TIBCO, so I made my way up to their train and just tried to hold position in the last lap,” Olds said. “In the last turn, Theresa Clif-Ryan (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) jumped, and I jumped to cover it. But Bronzini was on my wheel and she came around me. It’s difficult when you have two really fast sprinters from the same team.”

“I was in front of the first position, behind my teammate,” Bronzini said. “I was in third position at the corner, and gave my best sprint today.” Bronzini said she felt confident she could win as long as she came out of the final corner no farther than three riders back.

Georgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D'Asolo presented by Cooking Light) celebrates her victory in the St. Paul Downtown Criterium, Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Matthew Moses)

“Tonight was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in years,” Armstrong said. “People were on fire. I know that there’s been past years that have been tough, but I think the depth of this field is the best I’ve seen at Nature Valley.”

Olds, who has raced a full schedule this season in Europe, agreed: “The field this year is incredibly strong. I think, much stronger, with a lot of numbers for each team.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix has seen a lot of growth in recent years, from stronger fields to increasing opportunities for growth and visibility of new and upcoming riders.

Jade Wilcoxson is one such rider, having been selected through the Nature Valley Grand Prix Pro Ride – a series of qualifying races across the country.

“Just having a team director and a team mechanic and having all those details taken care of has been incredible,” Wilcoxson said. “Then racing with this caliber of women – this was a hard crate.” The Talent, Ore., resident will wear the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey for Thursday’s road race at Cannon Falls.

Other jersey wearers include Olds in the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey, Leah Kirchmann (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) in the Wheaties FUEL Sprinter jersey, and her teammate, Rushlee Buchanon, in the Tria Orthopaedic Best Young Rider jersey. Though Armstrong leads the Sports Beans Queen of the Hills jersey competition, Evelyn Stevens (HTP-Highroad) will wear the jersey for Cannon Falls.

Looking forward to Thursday’s first road stage in rural east central Minnesota, Armstrong noted, “We’ll have to see what the weather does, because sometimes it’s really windy. Again, we ride as a team, we ride as a unit. The technicality of tonight was hard to get the team together, but tomorrow the roads are wide, but the finishing circuits are tough. They always are. They’re technical and tough. We’ll have to stay safe and use the same tactics as tonight and work as a team.”

The women’s race in Cannon Falls starts at 5:30 p.m. Watch the race in person or streaming online at http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

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Ride WITH the Pros at the Menomonie Gran Fondo

June 3, 2011

Just announced!!

 Team Radioshack rider and wearer of the Giro d’Italia’s white jersey Bjorn Selander, along with Kelly Benefits Strategies-Optum Health Pro Cycling riders Dan Holloway, Tom Soladay, and Colton Barrett will be riding the Menomonie Gran Fondo.

Sign up today for your chance to ride with these pro riders while supporting Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

https://www.sportsbaseonline.com/events/index.xhtml?categoryId=45369

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Anna McLoon: There’s No Place Like Home

May 19, 2010

It’s funny, isn’t it, how much you realize you love a place when you move away?  I grew up in Roseville, Minnesota, and even though I have spent the better part of the last 10 years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first for college and then for graduate school, I love Minnesota more now than I ever did during high school.  I think that’s the reason why the Nature Valley Grand Prix is one of my favorite races in the year; it gives me a chance to combine two things I love: racing my bicycle, and going home. This will be my third year racing the Nature Valley Grand Prix (this year I’ll be racing for Team Kenda), and I can’t wait to introduce my home to my new teammates.

The day before the race starts, we’ll go for a ride to loosen up our legs from traveling, and perhaps it will be a good chance to show off the tree sculptures in the state fairgrounds and to wind our way past the conservatory and lake in Como Park.  Or perhaps later in the week we’ll ride through Roseville’s Central Park and Lake Josephine as we get our blood flowing before the Minneapolis criterium.  Or maybe on the way back from the final race in Stillwater, we’ll stop at the Dairy Queen in North St. Paul, and will give our greetings to the giant snowman.  In short, I can’t wait to introduce some of my favorite places to my teammates who may have never visited the “land of 10,000 lakes.”

At the same time, I love the opportunity to convince my family and friends in Minnesota that bike racing is super fun.  The past two years, I swear half the people at some of the stages were cheering for me: high school friends, teachers, old teammates, friend’s parents.  My mom had never seen me race my bike until the St. Paul criterium last year, and although it makes her nervous (I can see how watching your daughter lean into a 90 degree turn at 25 miles an hour with more than 100 other cyclists might make a mother nervous), she thought it was fun to watch!  I didn’t start racing bicycles until I started graduate school almost four years ago, so it’s been a great opportunity to introduce my “new” sport to friends who’ve never watched a bike race before.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to love the race. The courses are fun and challenging, giving me a chance to test my training and to see what I can do on the bike.  It’s a great opportunity to check in with my coach, Fiona Lockhart, who lives in Minneapolis.  Like most cyclists, I mostly communicate with her via phone and e-mail, so it’s nice for her to actually watch the races and for us to talk without the barrier of the computer or telephone.  But probably most of all, I love to go home to the best state in the country.  I can’t wait to race again in front of my family and friends.  If you come to the races and hear the person next to you shouting “Go Anna” at the passing rider dressed in green, join in.  I’m excited because I think this year’s race will be, not just a Minnesotan “pretty good” but, as I’ve learned to say out here in Massachusetts, I think this year’s race will be “wicked awesome.”

About the author

Anna McLoon is a PhD candidate at Harvard University, in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD program.  She grew up in Roseville, MN, graduating from the Roseville Area High School in 2000.  In her spare time, she races bicycles, and will spend 2010 racing for Team Kenda.

About Team Kenda Women’s Cycling

Team Kenda began in 1999 as Team Ameritech with nine riders who excelled at bicycle racing.  Over the years, the team has steadily grown in size and now boasts NRC Elite and Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West Regional Teams. The team competes in the United States focusing on the National Race Calendar.  (http://www.teamkenda.com)

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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.

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