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An Interview with Sarah Uhl
 
By Staff
Date: 9/4/2003
An Interview with Sarah Uhl
 
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- Interview by Marianne Werz Obrien

Photo courtesy of

Saturn Cycling

Saturn cyclist Sarah Uhl transitioned this year from a very successful amateur & juniorís career to the pro peloton. Sarah began racing at 13 and as a junior she was practically unbeatable. She racked up numerous track wins at the Lehigh Valley Velodrome, earning the Morningstar Rider of the Year award in 2001 & 2002. Her additional Juniorís palmares include:

  • Junior World Track Cycling Championships: 2001 (gold, match sprint)
  • Junior World Road Cycling Championships: 2000
  • Junior National Track Cycling champion: 1999 (ominium, match sprint); 2001 (500m time trial, match sprint); 2002 (match sprint)
  • Junior National Road Cycling champion: 1997 (road race, criterium); 1998 (individual time trial); 1999 (individual time trial, road race, criterium); 2000 (individual time trial)
  • Junior National Cyclo-cross champion: 1998
  • Seven-Time Junior Pan American Champion
  • New York City Cycling Championship 2002 - 1st place

At the tender age of 19, in 2003, Sarah joined the Saturn Cycling Team with the understanding that she would continue to concentrate on track racing in hopes of securing a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. She has continued her winning ways as a pro, below are some of her 2003 results:

  • Clarendon Cup (Arlington, Vir) Ė 4th place
  • Bound Brook Criterium (Bound Brook, N.J.) Ė 2nd place
  • Tour of Somerville (Somerville N.J.) Ė 1st place
  • Womenís World Cup Qualifier, Keirin† (San Diego, Ca.) Ė 1st place
  • USCF National Track Cycling Championships, Pursuit (Trexlertown, Pa.) Ė 1st place
  • USCF National Track Cycling Championships, Keirin (Trexlertown, Pa.) Ė 1st place

I caught up with Sarah at the USCF National Track Cycling Championships (August 26 Ė 30) where she graciously took time out of her busy race schedule to answer a few questions. So without further adieu, I give you Sarah Uhl, in her own words!

How did you find the transition from junior to pro? Personally, as well as in terms of the level of competition?

The transition from junior to pro is much more psychological than anything else.† Iíve been racing with women older than me ever since I was 14.† My mom drove me to road races in New England almost every weekend when I was a junior because the women's fields were so strong.† There I learned to race with women older and more talented.† At first I was just a kid who got in the way, but as I began to make more of a presence and win a few races, I began to find respect amongst the field as well.†† Racing and training with athletes stronger and more experienced than myself has become an underling theme for my riding.† Now that I am at the top of the women's fields I train with men.† Training with men is extremely productive for me because it provides me the challenge to push harder, reaping nothing but stronger legs and the exhilaration of beating the guys!†

When I was a junior the big goal was to hang with the pro girls... maybe even upset the big teams sometimes with a surprise victory.† But now that I am riding for team Saturn, I enter races with an extremely different mentality.† I used to be the underdog, trying to figure out how the heck I was going to pull off some big win.† Now itís all about the team, and we know we have the ability to win as a team.† Itís powerful to enter a race with the Saturn Colors on your back.† Itís almost like wearing the yellow jersey.† You know everybody is watching you.† Even when I race the track, I am proud to be in Saturn colors, even though it just me out there.†

Track is a little different.† I've grown up in Trexlertown and Trexlertown is where track racing peaks in the United States.† I went from the development program champion on a Friday night in 1996 to the Rider of the Year amongst the international women's field in '01 and '02.† Trexlertown nurtures its up and comers, and that is a great thing.†

How do you feel about your first season with Saturn? Has going pro been all you hoped?

I have not raced with the team as much as everyone else has, but this was part of our agreement.† I am trying to make the Olympic team for track, so I needed to travel to track events quite a bit.† Itís great to have the support behind me that Saturn brings, even when Iím not with the team.† If I need equipment, I get it.† If I need energy food, I get it.† If I need to drive anywhere, I've got a beautiful new Saturn VUE to take me there.† It's pretty cool to be 20 years old and have a new vehicle to drive.†

Has the Saturn team been a good fit for you?† Have you any mentors on the team?

Well, the Saturn team provides quite a few amazing mentors.† Racing with Laura Van Guilder has been quite a thrill.† She has been a rider that I have keyed off of for many years now.† She was always the one I tried to beat at the big local races, and now we are teammates!† I have learned a lot from her on and off the bike.† We became great friends and it didn't matter anymore who won and who came in second!† I would have liked to race more with Ina-Yoko Teutenberg because of her class and race experience.† I admire her sprinting abilities and hope to someday be as reliable a road sprinter for the team as she is.†

Because there really is no trade team concentrating solely on track racing, and because the National Team has no Endurance track program or support, the Saturn team is the best thing that could have happened for me.† They are supporting me in my pursuits to make the Olympic Team in 2004, and hopefully afterwards will consider helping me develop into a road sprinter.

On a slightly different topic, as we mere mortals always wonder about the life of the pros, can you tell us a little about what your training schedule is like? What helps you keep your motivation so high? I guess what I'm really wondering is how you keep it "fresh?" Does riding ever get tiresome for you? Is it still fun?

This is a very interesting question, especially the last part!† I look at what I do as my job.† It is a very busy job that takes up most hours of the day.† I always need to be thinking about ways to make myself stronger, what will provide the edge I need and what consequences or benefits there are to all of the decisions I make each day. †

I train every day, and often times multiple times a day.† Because I am also a track cyclist, my training is probably different than most pure roadies.† In the winter and even part of the pre-season I do quite a bit of strength training in a gym.† In the summer, I probably ride the track 3 or 4 days a week and many days include a very easy recovery ride to complement a strenuous power workout. We also motorpace on the track.† I include quite a bit of intensity in my training in the summer and use quite a bit of practice races to improve myself.† I really like to race.† It keeps me going, where some other athletes need more rest or prefer to only race at major competitions.† Racing is why I do this sport, so I enjoy it as much as possible!†† On Tuesday nights I race with the cat 2 men on the track, Wednesday is a group ride-turned race, There is a training crit on Thursday and Friday is the big Pro/International race night in Trexlertown.† If I am not doing a big road event on the weekend, I try to find a local race and I do the men's category if the Women's field is small.† Sometimes Iíll do both.

To complement the chaos, I have a regular yoga practice.† I practice yoga at a studio near my home at least two days a week.† Yoga is a good fit for me personally, and I treasure these sessions because they provide me balance and perspective on life.

There are always days where I would rather not train, and those are the days I try to tell myself that this is a job and I must.† This is why I include racing in my training every week as mentioned above.† Also, like I wrote about in the beginning, I train with men.† This is huge motivation, and not only because they all look hot in spandex. Itís more because I love being the "chic" who can hang with the guys.† It feels good.† I also have a good amount of fans here in the Lehigh valley.† They are quite loyal, and they always come out to cheer for me on Friday nights and make me feel good!† Racing in Trexlertown is like nowhere else.† You feel more like an entertainer than an athlete sometimes, and I think thatís how it should be.†

Speaking as a spectator, Sarah, I have to say you are definitely both an entertainer and an athlete! I went to Trexlertown for the final night of the USCF National Track Cycling Championships on Saturday.† I had never seen a live track event before, and trust me, it is definitely entertainment at its best!† It was fabulous!† The crowds go wild! Thereís ďthunderĒ from the bleachers as people stomp their feet to encourage the racers on to the finish line! It is an incredible experience, who knew?!?† I will most definitely be making the drive to Trexlertown many times next year to watch the races!† As for the rest of you, I submit Sarah Uhl as a woman to watch. We can expect much from her in the future! Thank you very much for your time, Sarah!


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