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Interview: USA's Meredith Miller Road Champ & Cross Diva
By Bart Hazen
Date: 1/27/2010
Interview: USA's Meredith Miller Road Champ & Cross Diva

Interview: Meredith Miller
USA Road Champion Meredith Miller chats about her career and cross racing in Europe on the eve of her first Worlds Cyclocross Championships in Tabor.

1) Can you introduce yourself?

I am Meredith Miller, a professional cyclist on the road with Team TIBCO and the current US Road National Champion. 2010 will be the beginning of my 12th year racing on the road (my 8th year full-time). Much of my time racing has been spent in Europe with teams such as the Danish-based Team SATS and the US National Team. On the domestic side of racing, I have been a member of highly successful teams such as TEAm Lipton, Aaron’s, and Team TIBCO.

In 2008 I decided to play around with cyclocross, maybe do a few local races in Colorado. In September I was in Vegas for Interbike so I decided to enter Cross Vegas – shortly after that I joined Cal Giant Berry Farms and hit most of the major races on the domestic schedule. My cycling schedule now is a 12 month commitment.

I live in Fort Collins, Colorado with my husband, Ben, and my two dogs Haka and Kohi.

Meredith climbs the hill in Hoogerheide     Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

2) Why did you choose cycling, cyclocross as your sport? after years of playing soccer at college?

When I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I continued playing soccer in a semi-pro league for another year. However, when that team folded I needed something else to fulfill my competitive personality. At the time Ben (my then boyfriend) had started racing.

 After watching several races, I knew that cycling would give me just what I needed to stoke the competitive side of me, while also helping me maintain/improve my fitness and strength I had developed from years of playing soccer. Ben helped me get set up on a bike and I also joined a fantastic women’s team, Famous Footwear, which provided me with the tools and guidance I needed to set the wheels in motion for a prosperous cycling career.

3) Which hobbies do you have next to cycling?

I enjoy photography, hiking, baking, reading, and most outdoor activities.

Off on an excellent start in Europe - finishing just outside the top 10 in Roubaix
Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

4) How do you look back on the CX season thus far?

This CX season has been a pretty successful ride so far. I went directly from the Road World Championships into the ‘cross season. That made me nervous because I hadn’t spent any time on the ‘cross or mtn. bikes working on my skills, nor had I spent much time doing the type of short, intense training that is required in ‘cross racing. Yet, during my first weekend of racing in Providence, I found myself with two 4th place finishes. I was pretty happy with that, but wanted more, so I went after the podium at the USGP’s with a vengeance.

After reaching the podium a couple times, I realized that gunning for a top 3 at nationals was not out of my reach. With the confidence, skills and fitness I had been building over the season, I was able to wrap up the domestic season with a 2nd place at the US Nationals. That finish helped secure my spot on the Worlds team…so here I am.

5) Where does your love for cyclocross come from?

Because I have been in the sport of cycling for so many years, it’s almost like “I have been there, done that” on the road. With cyclocross, everything is new, fresh and presents challenges that I am unaccustomed to and have yet to learn. The races are exciting, the spectators in this sport are raucous and loud, and the places I get to travel to are unfamiliar. It’s the new challenges, races, faces and places which have all made me fall in love with this sport.

Meredith in her first-ever World Cup in Roubaix   Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

6) Can you tell us about your first-ever cyclocross experiences in Europe thus far?

At this point I have raced 2 World Cups - Roubaix and Hoogerheide. In general, I figured ‘cross racing would be similar to the road - aggressive and fast from the gun - and Roubaix proved to be just that. There were no pleasantries exchanged on the course when a bike rammed me up the back or was swung into my head, or when elbows were thrown to get the best line first.

 And, in typical Euro style, the pace exploded off the start line. I expected this so I was ready for a fight and did my own pushing and shoving to give myself the advantage when I could. Despite having a slow start, I fought my way through much of the field and ended the day with a rather satisfactory 12th place.

Hoogerheide was a completely different race. Fast, less running, and incredibly difficult in a different way than Roubaix. I don’t know why, but I was off the mark in Hoogerheide, way off the mark. Nothing was coming together for me like it did in Roubaix. I was being knocked around like a pinball but couldn’t pull myself together to fight back. My focus was off. The harder I tried to push myself, the more I fell apart. Still, I finished in the top 20.

Regardless of my results, these two races have been thrilling to be a part of - the ‘cross culture in Europe is hard to beat and I am really happy that I have been here to experience the thrill.

Balancing in the mud of Roubaix
Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

7) How is that different compared to the USA (refers to question 5)?

The biggest difference between European and US racing is the course style and conditions. From the little I’ve experienced so far and from what I’ve heard, the courses here are more or less epic each race – much more difficult and insane compared to what we are used to seeing in the US. We just don’t see the kind of “features” (ie, steep drop-ins, rough run-ups, fast, tight turns) that are standard in the courses here.

The courses become so greasy and rutted that a bad line choice means bigger consequences. I also think that the conditions here - rain, wind, snow, cold - take the intensity up another notch.

8) Next week you will compete in your first-ever CX World Championships in Tabor. What are your expectations and personal goal for the event?

Right now I just want to go out and race my race. The races here require so much focus and attention to detail so I have to ride within myself, especially if it’s snowy and icy, and focus on me and my bike, not my surroundings. But, more than anything I want to walk away happy with my experience in Tabor. If I do everything I can to keep things within my control, race within my abilities, and keep my focus then my experience will be a positive one.

9) You are the current National Road Champion of the USA. Any sight already on in which races you can show your stars and stripes outside the races in the USA?

As of right now I don’t have any plans to race in Europe on the road in 2010. However, I would love to see myself back on the Road Worlds squad come October. But who knows what else might pop up between now and then.

At home in the mud of Roubaix.       Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

10) How do you see Team TIBCO 2010?..with the team receiving the UCI status and having a great start with the Australian national title of Ruth Corset.

It was fantastic news when we heard that Ruth won Aussie nationals. Hopefully her win has set a tone for the season and the wins will just keep coming, of course with a lot of hard work on our part. TIBCO has been an extremely supportive sponsor, all of our sponsors are, and the fact they we now have the opportunity to show our colors in Europe is an awesome situation for us.

The team has proven that we are one of the strongest teams in the US, and now we have the chance to show that we can race amongst the best in Europe as well. It’s a great opportunity for riders on the team who are looking to top off their fitness and racing experiences to help them get one step closer to reaching their Olympic dreams.

11) What kind of races/race conditions (CX/Road) you like the most?
On the road I like to race in the heat. Road race or crit, make it hot and I’ll be happy. Since I still have so much to learn yet in ‘cross, I’ll take whatever is thrown my way. I have to say, though, I am finding that I enjoy the mud, which, as a roadie, has been somewhat of a surprise to myself.

12) What performance/achievement you are the most proud of in your career thus far?

That’s easy – winning my national championship title is by the far the most outstanding achievement of my career.

13. What race(s) (CX/Road) has been a favorite of yours?

On the road, the SF Grand Prix was one of the most exciting yet excruciatingly hard races I’ve ever done but the atmosphere, riding through the streets of downtown San Francisco was awesome. Philly has a very similar sort of feel and it ranks right up there as one of my favorites, too.

It sounds cheesy, but almost every ‘cross race has been a favorite of mine. I learn something new every time I step over my ‘cross bike. If I had to choose, though, Providence and Jingle Cross would be my top 2 favorites for the courses. Roubaix and Hoogerheide are up there, too, because all around they were such eye opening, exciting races for me.

After the finish....    Photo © 2010 Bart Hazen

14) You are also a cycling coach. What do you want to say to young riders who want to realize a dream to turn a professional cyclist?

We are lucky in the US that there are so many talented women who have gone on to have very successful professional cycling careers. These women have proven that it can be done but it takes a lot of hard work, grit, and sacrifice to make it all come together. And these women are also some of the most giving people.

They are people who want to see the sport grow, who want to see young riders become the next cream of the crop in the US, so they welcome questions from the young riders about what it takes to be successful. These young riders should use all the resources they have available to them within the women’s peloton – teammates, directors, coaches – because there is a wealth of knowledge there and they have to be willing to tap into it.

Mostly, if you want it to happen, the future is in your hands. With hard work, focus, and determination the possibilities of becoming a professional cyclist are very real and tangible.

15) Who has inspired you, or currently inspires you to race. (or in the present)?

Kristin Armstrong is a particularly strong woman who always inspired me. Having been teammates with Kristin for a couple years I saw firsthand how hard she works, the kind of determination and focus she has, and the intensity with which she does everything. Even though she is retired, she continues to inspire me by putting the same effort, determination, focus and intensity into her camps and growing the sport of cycling for young women.

Marianne Vos is another rider who continues to amaze and inspire me. This young woman is so versatile and talented across the board in cycling. She is fun to watch, to race against, and she has such a friendly personality to boot.

16) What are your goals (CX/Road) for the 2010 season? and if you don’t mind…. long term career goals as a person and cyclist?

First and foremost, I always want to be the best teammate I can be, on and off the bike. For me it’s not about winning races but helping build the success of the team no matter who wins.

We have a new group of women coming to the team this year so as captain I want to help mold everyone together into a solid unit that knows how to get the job done. I hope to lead by example that being a successful and respected rider isn’t always about winning races but being there for your teammates 100% of the time. When that happens, when the chemistry is right, the season will be a hit for the team and each individual.

Secondly, I want to represent the stars and stripes to the best of my ability for my team, my teammates, and myself. That being said, this goes hand in hand with my goal of being the best teammate possible.

As far as ‘cross goes, I can see myself continuing within this discipline for a few more years yet. I’m just getting started and have lots to learn, but I’d love to see myself improve on my 2nd place finish I had at nationals this season. Of course, I’d also be thrilled to find myself back in Europe for Worlds again in 2011.

Beyond my career as a rider, I’d like to stay within the sport on some level. That may be as a director, manager, or even marketing liaison.

Thanks Meredith, Good Legs and Good Luck at the Worlds!

Team TIBCO bolsters 2010 Roster with UCI registration
USA Women’s Elite Road Race - TIBCO's Meredith Miller takes Stars & Stripes in Solo Attack!

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