We had the fantastic opportunity to race the Nature Valley Grand Prix with the Nature Valley Cycling Team. Each of the 6 women and 6 men had to meet requirements and qualify in one of six races across the country.
On the women's team, we had Amity Elliot from Virginia, Sydney Brown, from Nebraska, Olivia Dillon from Northern California, Morgan Kapp from Southern California, Audrey Scott from New York, and Tricia Bailey from Washington.
Sydney, Olivia, Tricia and Morgan had raced Nature Valley before. Amity had raced other NRC races, but Audrey was experiencing her first NRC race. Even though we were from across the country and had varying NRC experience, each rider understood the meaning of teammates and naturally fell into that mode.
Matt Anderson, from the Nature Valley Cycling team, brought us together, coordinated all logistics, and covered all the details. Michael Engleman, from the US Women's Cycling Development Program, volunteered to direct us. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to get to know one of the greatest contributors to women's racing and helped each of us learn not only how to be better individual racers, but how we might help each other and the sport as a whole.
Tyson Meyer and the Penn Cycles team made sure we had everything we needed playing the role of both soigner and mechanic to make sure our every need was met and our bikes worked beautifully throughout the race. We all stayed with fantastic host families that were there daily to cheer us on. With all of this put together, we had the makings of a great team.
For some of us, it is still pretty memorable and exciting to be sitting in a pack surrounded by National Champions and Olympians or going through a corner in a criterium on the wheel of someone you know has won many famous races. I still fight the urge to ask for autographs on the back of my race number from the women I am racing. I should give into that urge before I stop racing and regret it.
All of these shared and individual moments added up to a truly great experience for all of us. As we return home to compete in our local races we will do so with added knowledge and confidence gained while in Minnesota. And when we head to bigger races we will look forward to seeing our new friends again. Thanks again to all of those who made the Nature Valley Pro Ride possible.
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Follow the program's young female cyclists as they embark on their journey to the top of the pro ranks
The US Women's Cycling Development program was founded by former pro rider, Michael Engleman, as a way to help promising young women cyclists reach their full potential as athletes.
The dedicated and well spoken women of this program provide thoughtful, compelling and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of their experiences in this diary. For further reading about the program, visit the USWCDP website.