TIBCO's Brooke Miller is enjoying a record breaking season after claiming the United States of America criterium and road national championships. Miller spoke with Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewski about the changes to (most) of her racing wardrobe for the next year.
At first glance one might think there is a new wave of young talent taking hold for US women's cycling. Perhaps, as there is a new and first time ever champion in both the elite road and elite criterium disciplines - and for the first time ever it is the same person - Brooke Miller (TIBCO). But like much of the women's peloton, Miller came to cycling later in life. So while she is a 'newer' racer, she is mature in terms of life experience, something that translates well into her racing.
When looking for differences along gender lines among professional cyclists, at least in North America, a few consistencies usually emerge. These seem to stem from one variable - the men often start racing at a younger age than the women. This translates into different age windows, with the average age of a female racer older than a male. As well the education level is also higher for the women as the men often bypass or put on hold higher education. Both cases are true for TIBCO's Miller.
Excuse me, that is Dr. Brooke Miller, Ph.D. As the always-affable Miller put it, the joke that around the women's peloton goes, "I am hardly the only Ph.D. in the peloton! The women are just generally older and more educated." Okay, she is only 32, but for many professional men retirement might begin to loom large around that age. However Miller is just now entering the prime of her cycling career, with sights set on some big milestones. And her age... ahem, maturity is a large part of that. Miller can see the differences clearly when comparing her cycling to when she was a scholarship division one college volleyball player.
"I think [my age] is really good," she said. "When I was younger and played volleyball I didn't have any perspective. My weakest aspect was my head. A lot of it was I didn't have my maturity. And now with cycling my biggest strength without question is my head. I've seen riders who are better athletes than me who aren't as headstrong. Cycling is very psychological and I think I am better because I am older and mature."
Still, there are younger riders in the women's peloton too, and that only motivates her more in terms of training and racing. "I do see a sense of mortality more than younger riders and that transfers over to my training," she said. "I don't have the luxury of missing a training session, of missing an interval, or of throwing away a season. At 32 I don't have the time to lose focus like a 25-year-old. So I have a more focused approach because of it."
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