11 Women of ERTC raced the Velocity Stage Race this last weekend. Many of them racing for the first time. These are some of their stories...

Tania: Wise words: “your imagination is more important than your knowledge” – so that is what I went with for my first official road race this past weekend.  I lined up, at least part of the group picture, with the knowledge that I had the fitness and the ability to race. The chain dropped on the first corner. Fix chain, chase that bunch, feel the legs, tell them to shut up but the bunch is rounding the next corner.  The chase continued forever, I considered just rolling back to the comfort of tents and warmth.  Somehow the bike rolled into the next lap and I said to myself “keep chasing and just see” so I did.  I knew I would never catch but I turned off what I knew –and just imagined.  So, never give up…..

Jessica: About 10 years ago I stopped playing team sports because no one cared as much as I did. I have raced so many times with just myself or maybe close to one other person I knew. This weekend I raced with my team and it was incredible. Yes, we got split up into smaller groups in the RR and Crit but I never could have finished in these tough conditions without their support and love. Finding a wheel when I needed it, sharing a laugh or pain...there was always a girl in ERTC kit close by and that alone gave me the strength to tell my legs to shut up and ride. I am humbled by your awesomeness ladies.

Christine: Between falling over at the start line in the TT, racing in the rain and cold and not even finishing the crit, one might think that I didn't accomplish much this weekend. Sure I could've prepared more and definitely could have trained more but is that really why I race?  Nah!  It's all about the experience!  I'm so pleased to have ridden alongside the wonderful ladies who I call my teammates. I'm so pleased to see the smile on my face in most of the pictures I have of me racing. Most of all, I am so pleased to have been a part of something and to have helped ladies from other teams to enjoy their first road race too. There's nothing quite like receiving a message from a stranger thanking you for being her positive experience at a race.  So to sum up: I'm not the strongest rider in the pack but I've found so many other reasons to race. Because of that, I am so proud to represent our club!

Nancy: Cycling has been a huge journey over the past 4 years from never riding a bike to riding a cruiser around town, MS bike tour, and last year completing a couple of grandfondos. It seemed the natural progression to try road racing this year. Yes it was scary, yes I was slow as molasses, but I completed this challenge and know that I can push myself to higher level. Thanks to the amazing ERTC team that cheered me on even I was was struggling in last place. I was very proud to wear black and gold this weekend and will be proud to continue wearing it in the future.

Liann: This was not my first bike race but it WAS the first time I've had a group of ERTC women with me at the start line. What a difference! After being dropped in the road race it was like music to my ears when I heard 2 teammates riding up behind me yelling 'Liann get on!!'. The rest of the race was spent sharing the work, smiling, grimacing and sometimes even singing in the rain. After this weekend, and the fun and support from absolutely everyone in the club, I'm more excited than ever for the cycling season ahead!  

Amanda: I've written and rewritten this paragraph a few times, always starting out with the reasons I was scared to race, but every time it just came out wrong. Instead, here are all the good things about racing that I experienced this weekend: getting to practice closing a gap in a crit, and seeing the consequences of NOT closing fast enough. Realizing that hills on a course are hard, but not as hard as they were earlier in the season before some Hill Night training. Working as a team with friends to challenge ourselves even after we've been dropped in a race. Getting dropped the same way twice and learning what I need to improve on for the next race. Seeing my ERTC friends do well in their respective categories. Having a good song stuck my head to remind myself that everything IS awesome after two-plus hours in the rain! Wanting to do it all again soon!

Erin: Wow, what a great group of women we have racing with ERTC this year!! Having teammates to strategize and work together with made racing a lot more enjoyable for me and even though my road race didn't end up quite how I would have liked, I had an amazing weekend and am looking forward to trying more races this year.

Sarah: I had a packing list, I checked it twice.  Driving out to the race on Saturday morning, I called my Dad. "It's pouring rain", I told him. His response was, "You don't have to do it". What was I getting myself into???  We warmed under tents on trainers (I hate bike trainers). I felt semi professional with my teammates, all dressed in matching kits. At the start, my nerves were settled as I was surrounded by my teammates. In the TT I couldn't get my legs moving, I felt like I was pushing cement blocks into the cold wind; It felt horrible. Part one done. Part two, the road race, was much harder. Just hold on I kept thinking to myself. Don't lose the wheel, and breathe.  "Hold on, you can do this, breathe" was my mantra. A few lead riders pushed ahead on the last stretch. There were three of us left together, pushing in the rain, battling amongst each other.  "Mind over muscle, mind over muscle" I told myself as I pushed across the finish line.  Part two done; it was extremely hard but fun. Last part of the stage race was the crit. I was nervous, I've never done one, and only practiced a few times. It took me a few laps to get comfortable with corners and the group. By far the crit was the most dynamic and fun!  I'll definitely be back for more races. I've got the bike racing bug.  Couldn't have done it without the support of my ERTC team.  

Tim Bulger - WoERT mentor: Bike racing is odd, it is a team sport contested by individuals. It is a sport where you do not defeat your competitors, you defeat your own doubts and self-imposed limitations. One moment your competitors are trying to beat you, the next they are trying to help you. In a bike race you can win without being the first to cross the finish line. Bike racing can be a difficult sport for people to get in to, often people new to bike racing focus on physical strength and beating the competition. This approach, racing alone, can work quite well, but it is very lonely. It can be successful but will only take you so far, because this is a sport contested by teams. Working as a team leads to much more success than racing as an individual. What makes me so happy about how the racing went this past weekend is is that the WoERTC did everything as a team, on and off the bike, to help each other to their win. What makes me so happy, is seeing people face and defeat their doubts and fears. The support, commitment, and positive attitude displayed this past weekend (despite quite challenging weather) is evidence that this team has so much more success to come.

Tiffany - WoERTC Founder: Approaching the race I was torn. Torn between simply focusing on my own significant fears of racing and being a support for the other 10 women who shared the same fears. Most of whom were here because of an initiative I started. I’d created the spark for this new group of racers - what if everyone hated it? What if someone crashed? And to top it off, the weather was AWFUL! I was sure these women would never want to be a part of any of my crazy ideas again. And then something amazing happened - our group of women bonded together with a strength far beyond anything I could have provided. Each women put their heart and soul into the weekend, into supporting each other, into staying positive when cold/freezing/wet, and into their own personal goals. No longer did I feel like I had to support them, it truly was them that supported me. I won in two ways this weekend. I won because I conquered my own personal fears with results far better than I could have imagined, and more importantly, I won because every single woman reached (and some smashed) goals that they set for themselves. Our momentum is no longer fueled by me, it’s fueled by women with huge hearts and strong passions. So watch out, I don’t think we even know what we’re capable of!     

So much more to come, from the new Women of ERTC Racing Team.