Sue Butler leads Sherwin in their 3-way race among teammates for fourth in Elite Women's National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine
Portland, OR Elite racer Sue Butler is one of five women chosen to represent the US at Worlds this year. Butler capped off a great year by taking fifth at Nationals after several strong showings in Europe
A highlight of her European campaign includes a 14th place in Plzen. Read on as she reflects on what brought her to this point, and if you want to support her as she heads across the ocean to pursue her dreams, check out her local fundraiser and online raffle in the subsequent details.
St. Wendel Bound
by Sue Butler
2010 started with one goal. To go to St. Wendel. After a mediocre season in 2009 and having to withdraw my petition for Worlds in Tabor, I wanted to race Worlds again. This journey has caused me to reflect on how it all got started. I was basically goaded into racing cyclocross by Wendy Williams and Dani Dance down at River City Bicycles in Portland, Oregon. I had a ’cross bike. I raced mountain bikes a bit. Why wasn’t I racing ’cross??? Simple answer: the dirt was too good in the fall and the singletrack too much fun. Give up a weekend for a 40 minute race on Sunday? No way.
But in the fall of 2005, I relented and gave it a try. I was hooked instantly. In 2006, Wendy pursuaded me to travel to the USGP series with her. The following year, we traveled even more domestically, and we headed to Europe to race internationally. I was chosen for the Worlds team for 2008 in Treviso. The following season went even better, and I made the team again, racing Worlds in Hoogerheide. I was hooked. I was addicted. I was already looking forward to the next year.
I remember sitting and having coffee with Rhonda Mazza, local Portland cx legend who had just had her first baby, when I got back from Treviso. I was still reeling from the experience. She told me something Ann Knapp had said to her in the car on the way to Worlds her first time. Anne said, “I have been waiting 364 days for this.” I totally get it. And this year, I have been waiting twice as long.
The wait, however, has been worth it. I am healthy. I have had a great season and I am hungry for more. Racing can be very frustrating. Personally, unless things go well, I make no mistakes and I feel I raced to my ability, I’m not satisfied. This is a lot of the time. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I began to appreciate the success of my season. Out of the four USGP races I raced this year (missed Louisville for the World Cup in Plzen, Czech Republic, and the USGPs in Fort Collins when I was sick), I stood on the podium twice. I finally stood on the podium at Nationals, something that has eluded me in years past. Yet at the end of Nationals, I wasn’t satisfied. I made mistakes, I crashed into a post, I couldn’t shift my bike at the very end. Frustration.
I expected to be jubilant and excited. Finally, three weeks later, I was. With time to reflect, knowing I was going to St. Wendel, I took a deep breath and patted myself on the back. Sometimes it takes others to remind me that I have achieved more than most will in my short career. And it is an accomplishment. Only five U.S. women are selected each year to go to Worlds. The group is very small. In 2011, I have the opportunity to be part of the USA team that hopefully sees Katie Compton finally take home the gold. My personal goal is always to do better than I have done, to have my best race, to represent to the best of my ability. No, I may not win, but my race will have its own victories. It already has.
Butler and her supporters have put together two ways for those not competing in Sankt Wendel to get involved. Locally in Butler’s Portland, Oregon, hometown, Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) is helping her get there by hosting a party.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18th, from 6 to 11 p.m., Hopworks (2944 SE Powell Blvd, in SE Portland) will donate $1 for every pint of beer sold that evening. Simply tell your server you’re there for the Sue Butler fundraiser and they’ll do the rest. You can dine in the dining room or just come hang out in the bar, where Sue will be hanging out, mingling and viewing video footage from some of her favorite races in Europe.
Fundraiser Raffle: In addition, Butler will be selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a host of prizes from her sponsors.
“My sponsors have been really great,” she said. “They have provided great prizes: a Ridley frameset, Reynolds wheelset, Thule racks, Lazer helmet, Oakleys. Lots of great things.”
Tickets will be available at HUB on Tuesday night, they will also be available at River City Bicycles and via the internet on Butler’s blog. www.suebutlerrides.com. The raffle will run through the World Championships.