Another cyclocross team has popped up, but this one is unique in that it focuses exclusively on the Pacific Northwest's women youth racers. Seattle-based singlespeed cyclocross racer Jessica Cutler has transitioned from Nationals contender to Team Director and talent developer, and Cyclocross Magazine sat down with Cutler to learn more about her new project, Northwest Women's Cyclocross Project, in the three-part interview below.
CXM: What are the goals of the project, and how will you measure success?
JC: Our mission statement is to:
“…identify, develop, and support young female cyclocross racers from the Pacific Northwest. The Project seeks to grow the sport of cyclocross for young women through the creation of a grassroots program open to all junior women regardless of skill or previous race experience. The Project teaches young women to be good ambassadors for the sport while providing much-needed financial, mechanical, and equipment support.”
I believe that if we are able to open pathways to national success for our Elite development riders and increase accessibility to the sport for all riders, then we will have succeeded. Of course we want to see them get good results at our local series as well as at the national level but that’s not our primary measure of success. Additionally, as mentioned in our mission statement, we have opened a grassroots program that is largely free to join for all junior women—members need to purchase just one kit—and we are building a “bike library” to help remove barriers to participation. I believe we currently have six bikes in the library that junior women can use to try a race or a clinic.
CXM: Funding for cyclocross is hard to come by. How is the project funded, and is it year to year, or are you secure for a few years?
JC: Isn’t this the truth. I struggled every year of my professional career to come by enough funding to support my season. Despite putting all my prize money back into my racing fund every year, I don’t think I ever broke even. Currently we are funded year to year but I would like to see that change in the future and hopefully, at the very least, be able to get two-year commitments from sponsors and supporters.
One big positive is that with the support of First Strike Velo and specifically Lars and Don, I am confident in our ability to fundraise. Additionally, people want to support the future and support junior women. I have found it much easier to secure funding for talented junior and U23 women than a mid-30s middling pro rider, go figure.
CXM: What’s the planned schedule for the team?
JC: Locally we will have a presence at both the MFG and Cross Revolution series. Hayden will do the entire MFG series with a focus on a season podium in the Cat 3s. We will pick and choose races from Cross Revolution depending on her schedule.
Shannon will race locally with the Cat 1/2 field and will also be at the Rochester UCI weekend. I’ll be her pit mechanic—come give me a high five!. We’ll also be at the Pan-American Championships, CXLA, and likely one other UCI weekend to be determined.
Both riders will attend Cyclocross Nationals and will race in the Women’s Youth category.
Any grassroots riders wishing to attend nationals and race in their respective category will receive pit support from both me and Niels.
CXM: What equipment will you be using?
JC: I am so grateful for our equipment sponsors!
We will be on Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie frames with full SRAM Force CX1 drivetrains. When I contacted Edwin at Van Dessel and said, “would you be willing to provide frames and drivetrains to two junior riders?” he didn’t bat an eye before saying yes!
We will also be on Psimet wheels, this will be my fourth year working with Rob Curtis as a cyclocross wheel sponsor and like Edwin, there was no hesitation in providing full support young female racers. RitcheyLogic has stepped up in a big way and provided stems, handlebars, headsets, saddles, pedals, and bar tape for our riders. Kogel bearings not only provided bottom brackets but even had them custom engraved with “NWCXProject.” Vie13 provided full pro-level kit support, designed by Kathleen at resource11 and is even kicking back a few dollars to the team for every team item sold on its website [Password: NWCXProject].
Additional support is being provided by Clif, WN Precision bike fitting, Chamois Butt’r, Rudy Project, Slalom Consulting, and Challenge Tires.