Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) is hoping to improve on a successful rookie cyclo-cross season last year by winning a second consecutive Mid Atlantic Cyclo-Cross (MAC) series title. The ten-round series heads into its second weekend in Wilminton, Delaware and Ludwig's Corner, Pennsylvania on October 17th and 18th respectively.
"I don't want to put pressure on myself because last year was very special and I had no expectations and I had a great time," said Van Gilder who has achieved more than 300 career victories as a professional road cyclist.
Van Gilder ended her rookie season at the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cyclo-Cross Championships held at Hoogerheide in the Netherlands. After a lengthy road season she takes on cyclo-cross by balancing serious training and competition with equal amounts of play time.
"I'd like to have as much fun as I did last year," she continued to outline her focus. "I want to improve where I'm weak and stay as strong where I'm strong. It's a great dynamic out here, the people, the riders, the whole environment. It's an atmosphere that I've been looking forward to all year and it's just great to have started and to have a couple of wins for the team."
Van Gilder leads the MAC series by virtue of winning the season openers at the Nittany Cross in Pennsylvania and the Charm City Cross in Maryland, both held in mid-September. This year she is not alone. Instead, she has the help of a strong teammate Deidre Winfield, who joined C3 Athletes Serving Athletes after a long term relationship with the Velo Bella squad.
"Dede is a very good rider," Van Gilder said. "We had a lot of fun last year as competitors and we were really looking forward to doing it together this season. It is the two of us at the elite women's level and then there are a lot of other riders too."
Van Gilder and Winfield are just two of many cyclo-cross athletes supported by Charm City Cycling, C3 Athletes Serving Athletes based in Charm City, Maryland. Among the elite riders are Andy Wulfkuhle and Weston Schempf. Regionally, the team is lead by Chris Nystrom, Jeff Cordisco, Michael Kolb, Heidi Von Teitenburg, Diane Grimm, Elizabeth Harlow, Fatmarc Vettori, Zach Adams, Rich Bilson, Joe Lilibridge, Mark Broadwater as well as juniors Sam O'Keefe and Gunnar Bergy.
"It seemed like a great opportunity for me," Van Gilder said regarding the growth of her team. "Chris [Auer] from C3 wanted to build the team a little bit bigger this year and it just seemed like a natural fit. Dede is on the east coast in Virginia and we are from Maryland, they are good people and our team is all about having a very good dynamic of personalities of people who want to help one another. I couldn't have done a brand new season last year without a team like that behind me, they are so supportive."
The MAC series round three, Granogue Cross, will take place on Saturday on a private 400 acre Granogue Estate near Wilmington, Delaware. The racing will continue with round four, Wissahickon Cross, on Sunday at the Ludwig's Corner Horse Show and Country Fair Grounds in Ludwig's Corner, Pennsylvania.
Van Gilder's schedule will bring her to all of the Mid Atlantic Cyclo-Cross Series events and several of the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross races along with the US National Cyclo-Cross Championships held in Bend, Oregon in December.