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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Rider of the Month: Cathy Varland

To help you get to know our team better, we’re going to highlight one teammate per month.

First up is Cathy Varland!

Hometown: Hoquium, WA

Category: Road 2

How you got started racing: I joined the WWU cycling team in college after getting a running injury.

Past Cycling Achievements: 3rd in the GC at Elkhorn as a Cat 3, finishing with the lead group on stage 4 of Cherry Blossom 2010, “competing” against Kristen Armstrong at the Mt. Hood Stage Race in 2011.

Why you’re excited about Peterson Racing p/b Spokeswomen:  It’s a team of strong women who are supportive of one another on and off the bike. We focus not just on racing but also growing the sport for women and giving back to the community.

Any thoughts about women’s cycling in general? Cycling provides a great opportunity for women to challenge themselves. Training and racing builds confidence that carries into everyday life. It’s awesome to see women working together and kicking butt during a race.

What keeps you riding: It keeps me sane! I love the freedom and the challenge of cycling. And the cycling community is full of wonderful, supportive people who I love to hang out with.

Favorite memory in cycling: A few epic training rides I’ve had with teammates. The rides that make you want to cry when they’re happening but leave you feeling strong and accomplished when you’re done. Those are good times!

When not biking: I hang out with friends and family, work, snowboard, and spend time outside.

When you’re not on the bike: I love to be outdoors or spending time with my friends and family.

Ringing in the New Year with Peterson Racing

On January 1, 2012, our team gathered to celebrate the New Year with brunch, delivery of the new kits, and a team ride in sunny, mild weather.  We enjoyed a potluck with some amazing food, including homemade tortillas, eggs, and healthy muffins!

Then, our new kits arrived! Many thanks to the teammates who volunteered their time to design these.  Below: it was like a second Christmas…

Yep, upon closer inspection we REALLY like them! It’s great to have colors and designs designed for women, by women. The pink and blue really stand out. We’re excited to line up for the first races of the year.

Then, we went out for a sunny ride down Lake Washington Boulevard, cruising to Seward Park and enjoying the day.  The sight of a dozen or so fit women in brand-new kits turned a few heads! Below: Alexie, our sponsorship coordinator, and pro cyclist Tom Peterson, our title sponsor.

Happy 2012!

Introducing Peterson Racing

Peterson Racing, has partnered with Jubilee Women’s Center, a non-profit transitional house for homeless and low-income women. Riders volunteer at Jubilee by preparing meals, teaching wellness, bike maintenance, and technology courses, and working on site at the Capitol Hill facility. Our riders:

Alicia Boland, Sarah Charlesworth-Attie, Nicole Connor, Jessica Culnane, Jessica Cutler, Andrea Casebolt, Lindsay Felker, Rebecca Jensen, Eryn Maris, Christy Mays, Courtenay McFadden, Zara McGrath, Alexie Montaland, Mirna Nieto, Tara O’Brien, Sheila Raff, Christine Soja, Kristen Sblendorio, Lori Surges, Lisa Toner, Carly Tu, Cathy Varland, Kelly Woznicki, Elise Wright, and Jackie Wolfe.

Rider Profiles

Name/Nickname: Nicole Connor, Niccheetah
Hometown: Helena, MT
Category: Road/Cyclocross 3
Contribution to the team: Sick dance moves and big smiles.
Racing Goals: I am just getting back into racing after having my son. My goal for next year is to get in as many races as possible while maintaining balance at home. I am looking forward to learning about racing with a team.
Past Cycling Achievements: 2009 was kind of a breakthrough year for me. I won the Enumclaw Omnium and got second in the Wenatchee Omnium as a Cat 4. I also decided to try cyclocross in 2009 and placed 6th in my first race at Starcrossed. My last race was the USGP in Portland, where I placed 3rd as a pregnant lady.
When you’re not on the bike: I am collecting jobs to help pay for my cycling habit while staying at home with my son. I teach spin classes at Fairhaven Fitness, tutor math, sell honey at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, and have a few graphic design gigs here and there. You might see me covered in food with bags under my eyes chasing a little blonde cherub boy.

Name/Nickname: Jessica Culnane, JAC
Hometown: Snohomish, Washington
Contribution to the team: Clif Bars, loud laughs, beer and food suggestions, hopefully some good pulls on team rides or races.
Racing Goals: Since I’m new to racing, my main goal is just to get out there and race. Upgrading would be nice too.
Past Cycling Achievements: Third at my first two and only crits last year Cat 4. Riding the Cascade Loop (Washington pass/Stevens Pass) in 5 days felt like an achievement.
When you’re not on the bike: In the kitchen, out on the town, traveling, climbing, doing yoga, working, enjoying life with loved ones.

Name/Nickname:  Jessica Cutler, “Cutler”
Hometown: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Category: Road Cat 1, Track Cat 2, Cyclocross Cat 1
Contribution to the team: Tireless volunteering, cheer leading, pestering, throwing excellent parties, rallying the troops.
Racing Goals: To complete my first NRC race, to never stop having fun, and to be the best teammate I can possibly be.
Past Cycling Achievements: A few palmares over the years including:
Winner, 2011 Capitol Stage Race, Cat 1/2 Women
Winner, 2011 Masters National Time Trial, 30-34 Women
Winner, 2011 Masters National Tandem Road Race, 70+ Women
When you’re not on the bike: I’m hanging out with my #1 dude, Niels and our four (yes, four) cats.  I have a new found love of gardening and spent a ton of time this last year growing tomatoes, squash, beans, artichoke, and many many other fruits and veggies.

Name/Nickname: Lindsay Felker
Hometown: 
Seattle, WA
Category: 
Road/Track: 3, Cyclocross: single speed
Contribution to the team: 
chairperson of the fun committee, costume design, team DJ
Racing Goals: 
Elite Track Nats 2012
Past Cycling Achievements:
WA St Criterium Championship and Redmond Derby Days wins. 2nd place in MFG Cyclocross Series (SS).
When you’re not on the bike: 
ultra marathons, ski mountaineering, surfing, hip hop, science

Name/Nickname: Rebecca Jensen, RJ
Hometown: Granite Falls, Washington
Contribution to the team: Adventure Racing Skillzz
Racing Goals: Podium in the Epic Mountain Bike Series overall and the Epic series championship, the Capitol Forest 50. Upgrade to Cat 2 on the road. Win GC as a Cat 3 in a stage race if I can fit one of those in my schedule! I also want to rip up the Rapha Gentlemen’s race and work my way towards being able to compete in mountain bike stage races!
Past Cycling Achievements: 3 Collegiate Team Time Trial national titles ’05-’07 (I love me a TTT!). Rode from Oregon to Virginia, self-supported with a buddy in ’09!
When you’re not on the bike:  Crashing through the woods with a map and compass, looking for that darn “control.” (See Runbosco.com)

Name/Nickname: Erin Maris
Hometown: Buckley, Washington
Contribution to the team: I am really happy to be a part of Spokeswomen racing.
Racing Goals: I am 15 now but my racing age will be 17. I got into racing because my older brothers were racing. I love to race because its so much fun and I love everything about it.
Past Cycling Achievements: My favorite race is Mutual of Enumclaw stage race.
When you’re not on the bike: I am a sophomore at White River High School.

Name/Nickname: Christy Mays, CeeMays
Hometown: Woodinville, WA
Category: Road 4
Contribution to the team:  I’m a total team player and will pitch-in to help anytime I can!
Racing Goals: I’m still fairly new to racing, so one of my goals is simply to try more races. There are a lot of different races and each seems to be unique in its own way. I’m looking forward to racing more courses this year. I’d also like to venture into track this year to see what it is all about!
Past Cycling Achievements: Making the 10,000 ascent up Haleakala on Maui!
When you’re not on the bike: I love to be in the kitchen, spending time with my family, hitting the ski slopes or taking my awesome yellow lab out for a good run!

Name/Nickname: Courtenay McFadden/Court
Hometown: Mercer Island, Washington
Contribution to the team:  Positive energy and baked goods.
Racing Goals:  To hang in with the 1/2s for the road season and help my teammates!  I would also like to complete the NW Epic Series and finish the 60 miler mountain bike races!  Get my Cat1 in CX by the end of 2012, just so I can say I have it.
Past Cycling Achievements:
When you’re not on the bike:
  I’m probably eating stuff like ice cream, cookies, and cake.  You might see me on a run or more recently at all my friends’ weddings (eating cake).

Name/Nickname: Zara McGrath- Zouzou
Hometown: Bellevue, Washington
Contribution to the team: Being on our junior on the team.
Racing Goals: To gain experience and learn from all.
Past Cycling Achievements:
Winner of the Seattle Cyclocross series 2010, junior girl 10/12
When you’re not on the bike: Swimming competitively, studying, going to France, snowboarding, being goofy.

Name/Nickname: Alexie Montaland
Hometown: Clermont Ferrand, France
Category: Track 3/Cross 3
Racing Goals: Hopefully learn how to sprint, and Upgrade to 2 on the track next season.
Past Cycling Achievements:  I have had my fair share of 2nd and 3rd places, and a few wins- but what I remember is my Silver medal at the Cyclocross State Championships and 2nd overall for the season at the Seattle Cyclocross series (I know- 2 second places).
When you’re not on the bike: I wish i was on a bike 🙂

Name/Nickname: Mirna Nieto
Hometown: Chihuahua, Chih., Mexico
Category: Road Cat 2, Track Cat 3
Contribution to the team: 100% commitment to the success of Spokeswomen Racing on the bike and off Racing Goals: To be in the best shape possible to help deliver many podium finishes for our team.
Past Cycling Achievements: A few wins here and there, including two State Championships as a Cat 4 and the Capital Stage Race GC as a Cat 3.
When you’re not on the bike: At this thing called work.

Name/Nickname: Tara O’Brien
Category: Road 3
Hometown: Spokane, Washington
Contribution to the team: I am always willing to show up and ride, especially the hilly courses! I also am a firm believer in quality over quantity when it comes to training… so don’t break yourself, just have fun!
Racing Goals: Upgrade to Cat 2 on the road (ultimate goal upgrade before Cascade Classic Stage Race). Win a race! Try a different discipline … (track? cross? mtn biking? all the above?) Enjoy this new team of amazing, inspiring women!
Past Cycling Achievements: In my first Stage race and first Critirium I crashed out with one lap to go. The next day, I got on the bike for the last road race and finished fourth! (Behind teammates that finished first and second!!)
When you’re not on the bike: My most recent project has been me. I am working on loving and accepting me, for all that I am. It’s a big project, but has been a wonderful journey. I also love to cook, practice yoga (and hopefully teach sometime soon), and spend a lot of time doing a little something called work (no complaints, it provides me money to play!)

Name/Nickname:  Sheila Raff
Category: Road 3
Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Contribution to the team:  Willingness to work hard.
Racing Goals: To work together as a team, and I would like to compete in the Master Road Nationals in Bend.
Past Cycling Achievements: Upgraded after first year of racing, and consistently finishing in the top 10.
When you’re not on the bike:  I take care of my 5 year old daughter who could not be more different than I am.  She is such a joy and has opened up my view of the world.  I love her.

Name/Nickname: Christine Soja/Tini
Hometown: Cumberland, Maine
Contribution to the team: Racing cyclocross and mountain biking, volunteering at Jubilee, showing up and having fun.
Racing Goals: To compete in 10 races and stay on this team!
Past Cycling Achievements: I won the Methow Valley Mountain Bike Festival which was the first race I entered, but that was ten years ago.
When you’re not on the bike: I’m trying to keep up with my 5 and 3 year old sons, being outside, volunteering, cooking, and trying to make time to get back on the bike!

Name/Nickname: Kristen Sblendorio or Sblen, Sblendo, some variation of whomevers’ choice 🙂
Hometown: Seattle, Washington (born and raised)
Contribution to the team: Work, climb, bridge, and never afraid of blowing up… you always have to go for it, for the integrity of team cooperation team and self- commitment.
Racing goals: Cascade classic is a bit of a dream race for me so building my power to hang with the big girls in 1/2 is my goal for the upcoming season.
Past Cycling achievements:  Last year was my first year racing. I had no idea if I’d love it or hate it, do well or get dropped, so I went out as a solo woman for Audi and give it my best. My philosophy was to first show up with positive energy, willingness to work with anyone who wanted to go for it and always test my body as far as I thought it could go. I ended up doing pretty well and ended with some points and 2 wins late in the season (tacoma crit and gig harbor circuit).
When I’m not on the bike: 40 hours a week I’m standing at my desk working for Seattle Public Utilities in engineering services. That being said I resort to the extreme weekend warrior lifestyle… Skiing BC canada every weekend in winter, kitesurfing on weeknights at jetty or weekends throughout the spring, summer and fall. I’m committed to traveling and learning as well, and am always looking for a challenge.

Name/Nickname:  Lori Surges / Lori
Hometown: Hales Corners, Wisconsin
Category: Road 4/Cross 4
Contribution to the team: I will bring a lighthearted attitude some seriously funny jokes during long rides and chocolate.
Racing Goals: To work with the other Cat 4 women to win races and have fun.  I would like to consider moving up to Cat 3 soon.
Past Cycling Achievements: Leaving the other girls behind on the hills!
When you’re not on the bike:  Single parenting an awesome 13 year old daughter, climbing, running and trying to get some sleep somewhere in-between all that.

Name/Nickname: Lisa Toner
Hometown: Bellingham, Washington
Contribution to the team: Attacking on the hills, chasing down breaks, and volunteering at races.
Racing Goals: Continue to improve my tactics, start working toward my Cat 2 upgrade, aim for the top 5 in all Cat 3 road races, and maybe get a win.
Past Cycling Achievements: I began my racing career with Husky Cycling, and was the only woman on the team when I joined in the fall of 2008.  Over two years, I built up a strong and committed women’s team.  I went to collegiate cycling nationals in 2010, placing in the top half of a very competitive, rainy, and hilly road race.
When you’re not on the bike: I am a Suzuki violin teacher and educational psychologist.

Name/Nickname: Carly Tu, carls, carls-in-charge
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Category: Road 3/Track 4
Contribution to the team: I’m an excellent superfan for my teammates and I offer my husband’s amazing race photography at tu.smugmug.com!
Racing Goals: Have fun and always learn something. Stay injury free! Finish with the pack in a combined 1/2/3 race. Upgrade to Friday nights on the track. Qualify for either the Ironman World Championships or the Half-Ironman World Championships. Get some points towards my cat 2 upgrade.
Past Cycling Achievements: Silver medalist at the Washington State Championship Individual Time Trial for two years in a row.
When you’re not on the bike: I’m running, swimming, eating and sleeping! Oh, or attending UW Husky football games and hanging out with my wonderdog Wrigley and my amazing husband Kevin.

Name/Nickname: Cathy Varland
Hometown: Hoquiam, Washington
Category: Road 2
Years Racing: 4
Contribution to the team: Hard core rainy ride training buddy.
Racing Goals: Upgrade to a Cat 1 on the road, “Compete” in the Cascade Classic, Make it to the top of a hill on Jess’s wheel.
Past Cycling Achievements: 3rd in the GC at Elkhorn as a cat 3, Finishing with the lead group on stage 4 of Cherry Blossom – 2010, “Competing” against Kristen Armstrong at the Mt Hood Stage Race – 2011.
When you’re not on the bike: I love to be outdoors or spending time with my friends and family.

Name/Nickname: Elise Wright, “e”
Hometown: Poulsbo, Washington
Contribution to the team: A fun, positive attitude and some mean cheering skills.
Racing Goals: Hoping to kick some booty in the 4s this season where it suits me and very much looking forward to working hard to see my teammates succeed in their specialties.
Past Cycling Achievements: er…
When you’re not on the bike: I like to play in the mountains including: mountaineering, rock climbing, xc and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking/backpacking.

Name/Nickname: Kelly Woznicki, kwoz
Hometown: Gates Mills, Ohio (near Cleveland)
Category: Road 2
Racing Goals: My goal for next year is to get back into racing, suffer a lot, and help our team win.
Past Cycling Achievements: I got second place a lot in 2009 (5 or 6 times I think, but no wins).  You can learn about my experience here: http://www.youtube.com/wozzyk#p/a/u/0/pWhIf60DBbQ
When you’re not on the bike: I am a user experience designer by day, so I design user interfaces (websites, mobile apps, software, etc.) and make them easier to use.  I also enjoy crafting, extra bold coffee, nerdy board games, math, and sunshine (I don’t know why I moved to Seattle).