Rider of the Month: Jessica Culnane

Jessica Culnane has started off the season with some really strong racing! She placed 3rd at Mason Lake 1, WON Sequim 1, and placed 3rd at Sequim 2, earning her upgrade from category 4 to 3. Way to go, JAC!

Nickname: JAC

Hometown: Snohomish, WA
Years racing:
1
Category:
4
Past cycling achievements: Third place at my first and only two crits last year as a Cat 4. 3rd at Mason 1 and Sequim 2, 1st at Sequim 1. Riding the Cascade Loop (Washington-Stevens Pass).
Why you decided to try bike racing
: Races help break the barrier of what you think you can do, and I love this. Most of my life I have raced to some extent, but it was running, triathlon, or multisport–so I thought I’d try bike racing next! I also wanted more discipline in my cycling efforts, not just riding when it’s nice out in search of the best scone.
What has surprised you so far about being on a race team:
I’ve always felt pretty competitive and dedicated to athletic pursuits. But now I realize, I’m just slightly above average and this team is where it’s at! They are intelligently committed to the sport and pushing themselves to new abilities. They inspire me to ride harder and stronger, but laugh when things go wrong.
What keeps you riding:
It is where I find my bliss. Whether it is pulling the team into a head wind, with sideways rain/hail, with numb hands or zipping around Mercer on one of those perfect ‘this is why I live in Seattle days’, life narrows in on that moment. New perspective is gained on what really matters and the insignificant is gone by the time I get home. And of course it is just fun to go fast!
What type(s) of racing you hope to try this year:
The only bike races I’ve done thus far are a few off the couch crits, so I’m excited be a little prepared for some races and race for a longer distance. Stage races seem like my cup of tea.

Empowering Women on and off the Bike

As an all-women’s team, the core of our mission goes beyond riding bikes really fast—though we do plenty of that!  We value empowering women, both on and off the bike.  Partnering with Jubilee Women’s Center gives us the chance to make a real impact on the lives of women who are transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

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About Jubilee: Founded in 1983, Jubilee Women’s Center has provided safe, affordable and supportive community housing in Seattle and a program that helps single women transition out of homelessness and into independent living.  Jubilee houses 27 women at a time, usually for 6-12 months each.

One of our founding members, Lindsay Felker, originally suggested that our team partner with Jubilee. “I have special ties to Jubilee, as my mom, who I lost to cancer a few years ago, was an active volunteer there and helped renovate the house.”  Lindsay has since encouraged our team to get involved and led the way with a few projects.  Recently, Lindsay, Sarah, Elise, Heather, Lisa, and Christine helped out at Jubilee’s annual Mardi Gras silent auction benefit—a lavish event that would have been impossible without the army of volunteers who stepped up to help out (see picture above).  Our duties included helping with setup, assisting in the kitchen, circulating appetizers, and cleaning up.  The benefit was a great success!

Getting to know the women of Jubilee brings joy and fulfillment to both sides.  Our teammate Kelly taught a series of computer classes at Jubilee, helping the women gain basic skills on Microsoft Word, like typing a resume or cover letter.  Something that many of us take for granted—typing up a document—is a new and empowering skill for many women who are moving toward self-sufficiency.  Kelly said, “It was awesome! I highly recommend getting involved with them.  The women at the center were all really friendly… I found the experience of working with the women there to be really rewarding. Do it!!”

Community dinners are another way we have connected with Jubilee.  Recently, our teammates Lori, Mirna, Sheila, and Lori’s daughter Bayley combined forces to prepare baked chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli for Jubilee’s 35 residents.  Lori commented, “The women were so grateful and we received many thanks.  Most of the women came at various times to eat, as they had to juggle work, school and other activities.  I will plan on organizing a dinner every other month at this point.  The team is welcome to contact Angie to schedule more community dinners.”

As anyone who volunteers knows well, the people we serve aren’t the only ones who benefit. Giving to Jubilee brings us a sense of connectedness and fulfillment—now that’s empowering!

Pictures from the event:

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