10 Minutes With… Meredith Miller

Born in Alabama and raised in Illinois, Meredith Miller first took up cycling while studying at the University of Wisconsin. Later, she relocated to Denmark where she joined Team SATS and got her first taste of the legendary European races, including the Giro Donne, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Flèche Wallonne. After returning to the USA, she raced for a succession of American teams and for the National Team. In 2009, she was National Road Race Champion.

Meredith started cyclo cross in 2008 and in her own words was “completely hooked” right from her first race. She won bronze in the 2013 National Championships and, now that she’s retired from road racing, hopes to continue in ‘cross.

 

What was the highlight of the 2013 women’s cycling season for you?
Winning the Tour of Elk Grove with TIBCO was pretty special. First, we had to come from behind and work hard as a team to move Shelley into the overall lead. Second, it was my last official NRC race with the team, which signified a close to five years with the team and a 15 year career. On the start line of the final stage, I gave an emotional speech to thank all the many women in the peloton who have been competitors, teammates and friends over the years and to thank my family (who was there on the sidelines to cheer me on) for supporting me in every way, all the time.

Where would you like to be and what would you like to have achieved by the close of the 2014 season?
I have recently retired from a 15 year road career, and I have yet to answer the million dollar question – “What am I going to do next?”. Right now I am focused on closing out the ‘cross season with a strong finish at the last World Cup of the season in Nommay, France and then the World Championships. After Feb 1 I can start to fill in the blanks for the next chapter of my life. Whatever that chapter looks like, though, I hope that I can still find room to race my bike. I’m sure that on some level I will continue to race ‘cross, but I would like to add a few MTB races to my schedule. Rebecca Rusch and I have been talking about doing some MTB races together for years, so maybe this will be the year!

Image c/o Team Tibco

Image c/o Team Tibco

What do you love most about the sport?
The camaraderie and the competition. The opportunities I get to see the world from my bike. The tactical and technical aspects that go into winning a bike race.

What does the future hold for women’s cycling? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
I am optimistic, but I have to admit that I feel like women’s cycling has taken a step backwards in the last few years. There are fewer women’s pro teams (at least in the US), fewer races, less media attention and less money (from salaries to prize money). There is a lot of work to be done, but I do think that big improvements are on the horizon.

In 2013, a lot of fans started to get more involved in women’s cycling and helped to generate a “buzz” around the sport. Any ideas what we can do to help even more?

Keep that buzz going! Continue to show support on social media and blogs. Write positive comments on stories about women’s racing and the peloton. Ask for more! Talk, chat and praise women’s cycling as much as possible to let sponsors, the UCI and media know that people ARE interested in women’s cycling.

How can cycling – fans, race organisers and the UCI – encourage more women to start racing?
It needs to start at the grassroots level. We need more programs that support communities and not just small ‘shop’ teams. Boulder Junior Cycling is a perfect example of a not for profit group that takes in kids from all over the city to develop, coach and inspire them about all forms of cycling.

At the UCI level, women need to be shown more respect.

What sort of things should race organisers do to encourage more people to watch races?
First of all, women need more TV time – not just highlights but actual live race footage. And we need more stories in the media. On any given day in the press, people can pick and choose to read hundreds of different stories about male cyclists, which allows their fans to connect with them. Fans have a story to go with the rider. They start to feel like they know this or that guy. I think on the women’s side we are missing this important connection. If we can build a story behind the riders, maybe more fans will demand to see more of their favorite women.

Race organizers might organize live interviews with riders before the start and after the finish of races to help the spectators connect with the riders. In the US this could work especially well at criteriums where the crowds are large often concentrated in small areas.

Which riders are going to be worth watching this year?
Any rider who can beat Vos!

Here’s a time machine which you can use to meet any rider from any point in history. Who will you be meeting?
Nicole Reinhart – she was an amazing cyclist and person who was taken from us too early. I’d like to also get to know Connie Carpenter to pick her brain about cycling then and now (we do both live in the same town!).

Last question, and it’s the one that top psychologists agree reveals more about a person than any other: which is better – cats or dogs?
Dogs – hands down.