Here, Sue Butler leads Sherwin in their 3-way race among teammates for fourth at 2010 Cyclocross National Championships. Keep reading to find out what her off-season is like! © Cyclocross Magazine.

Today marks the start of our new bi-weekly column, Women’s Wednesday, where our focus shifts to matters specific to women in the sport. This column will be dedicated to all aspects of women’s racing, from coverage of pro women to women-specific bikes to talking frankly about how to get more women involved in cyclocross.

We begin this week by checking in with a few of our favorite ladies of ’cross,  finding out what they’ve been up to in the off-season and seeing what they’re looking forward to in the Fall.

Katie Compton, US National Champion and second in the Cyclocross World Championships in 2010,  has been in Great Britain for the past few days but made time to give us a quick peek into what her “off-season” is like. (Hint: like Todd Wells, she doesn’t have much of one!)

She says, “I’m racing a full mountain bike race schedule, doing all the World Cups, so I don’t really have an off-season. I did a little skiing after cross worlds and took a vacation to New Zealand but have been riding most of that time.”

As far as her cyclocross training, Compton relies heavily on her mountain bike season to prepare her for cyclocross, but adds that she will “get some ’cross specific training in as I get closer to October when the cross season gets going.” Her goals for the season? Nothing too major, just that she’d like to “win a world championship for the first time and nationals again.” And we wouldn’t bet against her!

Sue Butler, one of our great contributors, has written for our Rider Diary as well as being the author a few race reports featured on Cyclocross Magazine. She was also fifth place in the Elite Women’s race at Nationals in 2010. As one of the five women chosen to represent the US at Worlds, Butler was on top of her cyclocross game. But after a bad crash at Worlds took her out of contention and into a hospital, Butler has been focusing on recovery this Spring.

She says, “As for what I am doing right now, I am in Physical Therapy. My season was going well, with some early season success locally. I was starting to amp up my training to get ready for the bulk of my race season, mixing up mountain bike racing with road racing when this nagging pain I was experiencing wouldn’t go away. Ryan Trebon was visiting and told me to go to a PT and that my crash at Worlds probably had affected my pelvis and SI joint. He was right. The crash at Worlds did have some fallout and I ignored it as long as I could. My SI joint was frozen and I had been compensating, but the muscles finally got angry and it was creeping into my lower back more consistently. I had been having pain, but it wasn’t until I could hardly do anything without pain that I sought help.”

With recovery on the way, Butler says that “Now I am working through it, retraining the right muscles, gradually building up back on the bike. I will unfortunately have to skip racing the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, but hope to be back for the Wisconsin Pro XCT race and possibly do Nature Valley as well. I am also planning to do MTB Nationals in Sun Valley and then the High Cascade 100. It is a much different summer season than I had anticipated, but I am determined to be 100% healthy and strong for cyclocross.”

Katherine Sherwin had an amazing showing at Cyclocross Nationals this year, but currently her focus is MTB racing with the Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team. She recently raced the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo with a team of four and, no surprise here, they won.

Sherwin tell us, “I had the opportunity to do a six day mountain bike stage race in Spain called the Andalucia MTB Stage race. I partnered up with Stage racer and Xterra athlete, Jenny Smith, and we came in 2nd Overall! We almost won the last stage too … Led for 4.5 hours plus and then got passed by eventual Overall Winners in the last half hour. That was a drag to have happen but I had to remind myself that I went to that Stage race as a first timer, not knowing what to expect from my mind or body. Since then I have done some ProXCT races (placed 6th in the Short Track in Fontana!) and then headed to California for a month to train in the warm weather and hit another shorter weekend stage race that I took the Overall in.”

Sherwin is finally home and planning on staying local for a while, focusing on “the Teva Games, Utah State Championships then on to Wisconsin for another ProXCT at the end of June. July will bring MTB season to a close with a few local races, MTB Nationals (aiming for a Short Track podium!) and another ProXCT in Montana as the final race.”

Once mountain bike season is finished, Sherwin reflects on her favorite sport: “Resting up after that in preparation for cross starting in September will be the priority. I cannot wait for the cyclocross season! I am truly in love with the sport and it is certainly my passion.”

Meredith Miller, who came in third at Nationals in Bend, Oregon in 2010 and rounded out the US women’s team for Worlds, also checked in with us, despite being mid-move.

Another one of our women without an off-season, she tells us that: “After Cyclocross Worlds I had two weeks off the bike, then hopped on the bike for a few mellow rides at home and then went to road camp with Team TIBCO at the end of February. During that brief period off the bike, I did do some xc skiing, but I’m still learning how to love that sport so I didn’t do a whole lot of it. The road racing season started with Redlands at the end of March and will go until July/August. I am hoping to do a few mountain bike races in July/August to get the feeling back of riding on the dirt and to sharpen up my skills.

She’s already gearing up for cyclocross season, but with a long-term goal in mind: “I am really focused on the 2013 World Championships in Louisville, so everything I do up to and during the cyclocross season is geared towards having the best ride possible in Louisville. Still being relatively new to the sport, that means each season I have to step up my game. I not only have to sharpen up my skills but I have to improve on them. A lot. Being a powerful rider has gotten me on the podium several times, but if I can become a more skilled cyclocross rider as well then I expect to find myself on the podium at most races. Last year I was second overall at the USGP. This year I’d like to turn that into a first overall. I will also be going to Europe to race more World Cups this year with Cal Giant/Specialized. I’ve come very close to riding into the top ten at World Cups before, and this year I hope to make it happen consistently.

How will she make that happen? Miller has a game plan for pre-season prep:
“As much as I can during the road season I’ll be on my cyclocross and mountain bikes, but the bulk of my cyclocross preparation won’t come until August when the road season is essentially over and I can turn my attention 100% to cyclocross. In the past I haven’t had much time between the road and ’cross seasons. I’ve basically stepped off the road bike and stepped right on to the cyclocross bike. Luckily, this year my road season will be ending a little earlier, so this August I can devote most of my riding time to being on the dirt, grass, sand and mud to become a technically better rider. Of course, I’ll also be doing the leg-burning, lung-busting intervals that are an integral part of cyclocross training.”

Here, Van Gilder snags the sprint! Currently, she is mid-road season and doing great. ©Natalia Boltukhova | Pedal Power Photography | 2010

Laura Van Gilder, who finished seventh in the Elite Women’s field at Cyclocross Nationals, also has a busy season before cyclocross. Van Gilder, a staple of East Coast ’cross racing, took a minute to share with us her rationale for having a solid road season before cyclocross starts up again:

“My off-cross season is as busy as my ’cross season! I am a full-time road racer from April until September. I have had a lot of success on the road and I truly enjoy getting out there and mixing it up with the big teams. I think that my road season provides me with good preparation for the ’cross season. I enjoy racing the road as much as ’cross and supporting events that offer the women competitive prize purses. Mellow Mushroom has agreed to sponsor me through ’cross season as well and I am very excited to represent them for the whole year.”

UPDATE: Georgia Gould, currently racing in Europe, checked in with us today and had this to add:

“In my ‘off season’ I have been racing the Mountain Bike World Cups and also the US PROxct series.  The qualification for the 2012 Olympics starts this year, so the World Cups are pretty important right now.  I have a world cup this weekend in Germany, then I come home for a few weeks to do a couple races in the US. They include the Teva games, the Madison PROxct (the US National Championships) and then the world cups in Canada and New York.  After that, I head back over to Europe to race in the Olympic test race and then two more world cups and the world championships. I’ll be in Europe racing for the whole month of August. It’s going to be a busy summer.  Hopefully I’ll be fast by cyclocross season!”

We’re looking forward to hearing more from all of these wonderful women as weeks progress. If there are any women-specific issues that you’d like to find out more about, drop Molly a line at molly [at] cxmagazine.com, or leave a message in the comments below!