• Beth Newell: Beth Bikes

    by  • December 30, 2011 • bio, interviews • 1 Comment

    You are often held up as the mid-wests great cycling hope. The most promising thing since Eric Heiden set the record on Old La Honda. how the hell did you migrate from Ohio to California?

    I actually migrated from Ohio to Connecticut (what was I thinking?!), and then Connecticut to California.  I had just finished my useless liberal arts degree, and my bleeding heart signed up for Americorps (a domestic volunteer corps).  I applied for the “Healthcorps” division, where they place people in community health centers.  I think I had a choice between Berkeley, Denver, and Seattle.  I chose Berkeley, as the position sounded the coolest, and I really had enough of that snow and rain crap.

    2012 is starting off well – you’ve signed with the Now-Novartis team which is brining in some big guns this year including Allison Powers and Olivia Dillon.  What will your role be with the team?

    I hope to be a speedy water bottle girl.  There are lots of really good riders with tons of experience, so I hope to help the team out however best I can.  I am excited to have a role to play and follow directions!  I am ready to be the “go to” for whatever job needs to be done.

    Can you point to a piece of advice that helpful in your development?

    “Don’t expect anything quick.”  We all hear about the phenoms who go from Cat4 to the Professional ranks in one year.  Ignore their motivational stories.  I had to suck for many years until I got better. There is no substitute for hard work day in and day out. The other piece of advice that was helpful was to keep trying new things and don’t try to specialize.  I was convinced I was going to be track sprinter when I started bike riding, but thank god I kept trying different kinds of races, as I found out I liked them and was better than I thought at them.  It is never too late to try a hill climb or some crazy hilly race (or on the flip side, a short track race).  Lastly, my 65 year old neighbor and mentor told me: “Welcome to the end of your life” when I bought my first bike.  I thought he was kind of crazy and didn’t know what he meant by that…but now, yes, I do see that biking has taken over my life.

    Are you surprised at how much work goes into being successful?  It looks like you put an extraordinary amount of work into getting to the next level…

    I am not surprised.  I ride 5-6 days a week, and try to go to the gym 2-3 days a week.  I am really bad at keeping track of training and don’t use any data products…. but I’d say about 15-20 hours now. I was working full-time up until June, so before I went to part-time, that was a lot less… probably about 10-12 hours last winter/spring.

    This year you had some of your biggest breakthroughs yet – does anything stand out?

    I would most definitely have to say the track nationals points race.  I had won the omnium earlier in the week, but the points race felt a lot better, as I actually knew I won when I finished.  (The omnium is pretty anticlimactic and stressful, as it is several events, and you don’t necessarily immediately know you won when you finish).  I was totally relaxed going into the points race (I had already won a championship, so it was kind of no pressure).  The crowds were huge in LA, and I am sucker for racing in front of crowds.  The field was really big and it was fun to beat people who normally beat me!  However, the race got not so fun about half way through, after I took a lap on the field.  I got real nervous and all I could think about was not crashing, which is not a good way to race.

    Despite your outstanding performance at track nationals you spent most of the year on the road, where you also took it to another level….  What was the hardest part of that transition?

    Hardest part of road riding?  I could go on and on.  Going up hill.  Going down hill.  Turning right.  Making 180 turns.  Having field sizes bigger than 25.  Finding a team.  Shifting.  Track riding is about 100% easier for new bike riders.  It is super repetitive, the bikes are cheaper, and there is a lot less to figure out.

    Why do you think track riders can often make the transition to good road riders but not the other way around?

    Road riders don’t truly grasp the importance of donuts.

    Some readers may not know you are the National Points and Omnium Champion but are not riding for the US in any events during the international track season.  Whats your official position on USAC’s track program?  

    A little known fact (which no one would know as it hasn’t been communicated to the general population) is that national teams can only send six women riders to the World Cups, per the UCI.  Being that the Olympics are around the corner, those spots are really needed for riders to get racing in prior to August and/or get qualifying points.  Rosters were full at both the second (Cali) and fourth (London) World Cups. There was a potential opening at the upcoming third World Cup in Beijing this January; however, the date conflicted with my NOW-Novartis team camp, so I couldn’t really explore that any further. I knew it was really important to attend my first team camp: to meet my teammates, learn about sponsors, and go through official hazing.  It was a disappointing conflict, but that happens.  Although I am dying to race internationally and wear a Captain American suit, it would probably be a really hard year to get my first international World Cup racing experience, with the fields being really competitive with everyone trying to get Olympic points.  Next year will probably be a better introductory year.  I put in a self-nomination to be considered for the Pan-Am Championships in March; we’ll see if that shakes out.  I have a long way to go in my timed events and another year of getting stronger and faster will help with that. It is my goal to do the track World Cups next winter (2012-13), and I am looking to get my timed events better so I can meet the qualifying standards.

    You’ve had a lot of exposure to local legends and bit US riders the last few years – who is a cyclist you would like to emulate?

    Shelley Olds has always been someone I watch a lot because she raced at Hellyer then went on to dominate the track, then the road.  Seeing her success transitioning to road racing more has always been a big motivator to me.  I love to follow Vicky Pendleton because she is a headcase in all of her media interviews.  I don’t know if I’d want to emulate her racing psychology, but I do appreciate how she is completely frank and open with the media about her opinions and feelings.  Sarah Hammer is of course 100% class and I love watching her race – she is such a competitor.  It was very special for me to get to talk with her some at track nationals this year and hear her perspective and understand how a champion of her caliber processes and handles situations.

    Any funny travel stories from trucking around with Hernando?  I imagine its partly like traveling with a high school outcast from a john hughes movie, with a little Bob Roll mixed in for color…

    You mean other than the car sex?  Hernando drives like an old grandma who finds an excuse to stop for milkshakes every 100 miles.  Those two points aren’t related, but I felt like writing a run-on sentence.

    Europe could be an option- would you ever consider it?

    Sure.  I lived in Budapest for 5 months in college for a study abroad program.  If you can hang Eastern Europe, you can hang anywhere.  I danced techno, chain smoked, cut my hair super short, and used a half bottle of hair gel a day.  I am guessing being an athlete would be a bit of a different lifestyle… unfortunate the helmet would really interfere with the gel….

    And finally… your favorite NorCal race?

    Copperopolis:  It has pretty much left me sobbing in the car every time I leave, which means it is the best race out there.

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    Former NorCal resident now residing in Madison,Wisconsin. I race cross, but I'm named after a velodrome. Support your local bike shop, NorCal race promoters, and go learn to race on a track. Hellyer Velodrome - http://www.ridethetrack.com

    http://facebook.com/hellyer

    One Response to Beth Newell: Beth Bikes

    1. Greg
      December 30, 2011 at

      Awesome, chain smoking and hair gel in Budapest!

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