by Molly Hurford
This year, Meredith Miller (California Giant-Specialized) earned her spot on the US Worlds team by qualifying with her top-15 placing at the World Cup in Tabor, and she had the most UCI points earned on American soil this year. At Worlds, she rounded out the top 20, just behind Nicole Duke, one of the other US racers. Clearly, Koksijde was a great course for the American women, with three of the five women landing in the top 20. When we spoke to Miller, we mainly wanted to know about Worlds, where, as everyone knows, Marianne Vos ran away with the race, but we also wanted to know Miller’s plans for the rest of the season, and what will come next. And of course, we wanted to hear her thoughts on the state of women’s cycling, and what she thinks the future holds.
Cyclocross Magazine: What did you think of the course?
Meredith Miller: It was the craziest, hardest courses I have ever raced on. The sand is like nothing I have ever experienced and won’t again unless I go back for the World Cup in Koksijde in 2012.
CXM: How did you feel on race day?
MM: I was pretty calm (relatively speaking), actually. Without having any experience on the course (with the exception of a couple pre-rides), I had no idea what to expect. Of course I wanted a good result but I wasn’t exactly sure that would happen on such a specialists’-type course. I would have been ecstatic with a top 10, but I also wasn’t going to let myself hang my head at anything else as long as I gave it my best effort.
CXM: What was it like, racing with that kind of huge crowd?
MM: Amazing. So cool to see that many people come out to watch a cyclocross race. Again, it was not like anything I had ever seen before.
CXM: How did the race go for you? Did it go how you expected?
MM: I ended up 20th. Less than what I was secretly hoping for, but without having huge expectations, about par for the course.
CXM: What was the hardest part?
MM: Was there any easy part? Every sand section, whether it was flat, up or down, had its challenges.
CXM: Anything happen off camera (since most Americans only got to watch the feed) that we should know about?
MM: I’m pretty sure that everyone saw me run into Caroline Mani. Other than that, there is really nothing to mention. Luckily I didn’t do any embarrassing face plants.
CXM: How did you feel after?
MM: Honestly I’m still trying to wade through my feelings about the race. All I can say is that I put everything out there. Nothing but experience would help me make huge improvements in my result.
CXM: Plans for the offseason?
MM: Three days after getting home from Worlds I was back on a plane to meet Team TIBCO in California for training camp. I’ll be here until the 12th, and then I’m heading to Hawaii for a real vacation. A vacation without a bike. I haven’t done that in years! Road racing will start in April and I plan on sprinkling a few mountain bike races into the mix this year as well.
CXM: Thoughts on the season overall?
MM: I’d call it a successful season. I still have things to work on, but I keep making improvements each year.
CXM: What about next year, with Worlds in the US? How does that change your schedule?
MM: I don’t see it changing too much. I’d like to get to Europe for more World Cups and Cal Giant will still focus on the USGP. We haven’t sat down yet to map out everything for next year, but I expect it will be much the same as this year.
CXM: Thoughts on Vos’ domination? (And the UCI’s question of if she’s killing the sport for women?)
MM: She’s an amazing rider, what else is there to say? Riders will have to step up and teams will have to be creative in figuring out how to beat her. And I don’t think the UCI should be asking her if she’s killing the sport for women….
CXM: Speaking of women’s cycling, do you think we’ve made any strides this year in terms of equality? What do you see for the future?
MM: There’s been a lot of recent chatter among women about how to make steps towards equality. Now there needs to be real action to make it happen. I don’t have the answers, but I fully support the need to make it happen.
CXM: Do you think there have been any positive or negative changes for women in cycling (in general, or in cyclocross in particular) in the past year?
MM: While the quality of women’s racing continues to improve and the fields continue to get stronger, women are losing races (road). The number of women racing seems to be on the rise (at least in the US), yet races are being taken away from us. We have fewer races on the calendar than men, and with the exception of the Exergy Tour, not a single women’s-only event.
On the positive side, brands like Specialized are coming to the forefront to make equipment specific for women that are not just a watered down version of the men’s product line. The Amira SL4 is a perfect example of a bike that has been designed for women in every way that the Tarmac has been designed for men from the geometry to the carbon lay up. It’s exciting to see such a powerful brand taking the initiative to give women the products they want and deserve.