June 08, 2016
by Ann Trombley, Coach, Author, National Champion
Looking back on my cycling career, my first training rides were to and from the newspaper storage garage and then up and down the streets of Oakland, California with a 10 lb newspaper sack over my shoulders.
My second bout of training, without knowing it, was riding my Mom’s 10 speed, yes they were called 10 speeds then, to and from college. My mom being 5’7″ and me being 5’3″ it was a tad big. And the perfect vehicle to get to and from school to gain fitness at the same time!
Then for my 21st birthday, my friends and family pooled their money to buy me a Mountain bike! This was in 1984 when Mountain biking was just starting to happen.
My racing career started here in Colorado. While getting my Masters Degree in Physical Therapy at CU Health Sciences Center, one of my fellow P.T. students, Stan pushed me to go to a race.
I was always scared to race to it helped to have someone go with me. After the first race, I was hooked. I started racing in the beginner field, and by my third year I was in the Pro field. I started off at the local Colorado Point Series, moved on to the National series and eventually to World Cup races! Mountain bike racing is an amazing way to see your state, the country and even the world!
Once I started racing at the World Cup level, it became a job. Usually with a job you get paid or in the athletic field it is being sponsored. Sponsorship was really hard to find and it felt like a job just looking for sponsorship. There were several times I thought I was going to have good sponsorship to have it fall apart or be less than what they had initially offered. Or they wanted you to ride a triple crown fork. Basically a downhill fork. I never got a salary while I was racing and I am guessing it is the same for many athletes, women especially.
I was lucky enough to be able to work part time as a home health physical therapist but it felt like I was doing both “jobs” halfway. The only thing that kept me going was the support of my amazing family and friends. They not only helped me emotionally by telling me I had plenty of time to work and that I should keep racing, they also helped me monetarily by doing fundraisers if I needed help getting to a world championship race and my mom’s business sponsored my team!
After about 5 years of racing, I realized I had a shot at the Olympics! Growing up in a single parent home and being on food stamps for a time, we were not thinking bout sports or going to the Olympics. At that point, my employer told me I should stop working and focus on getting to the Olympics. That whole year I worked my tail off training and getting onto the Long team. The Long team is the team form which the Olympic athletes are chosen.
I won the qualifying race in February and got my position on the Long team! I was finally getting support from USA Cycling with travel, lodging, support at the races and even a seigneur! My goal in life was to have a seigneur.
With more support, I could truly focus on my training and racing and I began to do even better, finishing 7th in a World Cup in Italy, 10th in Belgium and 12th in the World Championships! With such amazing results, I made the Olympic team!
My Olympic experience was incredible. The opening ceremonies were amazing. Being with all of the best athletes in the world, in one huge arena, was like no other feeling in the world. Awe! And to have millions of fans cheering for you! I definitely got an idea of what a rock star feels like!
Moving ahead to 2016! I am now coaching athletes and they are still having difficulty finding good sponsorship, especially as a woman in cycling. The pay out for winning is no where near equal. One of my athletes just won the Pro Women’s field at a local race and her Beau got second at the Pro Men’s field. He won $100 for second while she won $75 for 1st. I get it, there are more men racing BUT pay the top 3 in each category the same! Then go less deep in the women’s fields. Really, it is only fair.
It is the same for sponsorship, there are fewer women getting good sponsorship and I believe that leads to fewer women racing. Many women I talk to feel they should be working and not racing.
Because of my strong belief in women’s athletics, I have started a non-profit called WISE: Women In Sports Enrichment.
Women In Sports Enrichment provides grants to female athletes and female teams. Encouraging them to reach their athletic and life goals.
We believe by helping women excel in their sport, we give them an opportunity to build strength, confidence, discipline and work ethic. Competition creates strong women who are ready for the challenges in life. In fact, a survey of 400 female corporate executives found that 94% played a sport and 61% say it contributed to their career success!
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ABOUT ANN TROMBLEY
An elite cycling coach and author, with a B.S. in Movement Education and M.S. in Physical Therapy, Ann has been racing bikes for 20+ years. She was a member of the 2000 Sydney Olympics squad, won the National Short Track Championship, and placed 12th at Worlds in both 2013 and 2014. Ann claimed the US National Cyclocross Masters Championship title in the 50-54 age bracket. She is a former USAC and BRAC board member, and was one of the founding partners of Boulder Junior Cycling, which is now 100+ riders strong.
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