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Cycling - 10. April 2008.

Women learn track racing basics from some of the best in LA

ATTENTION LADIES: Ever wanted to give track cycling a try but not quite sure how to get started?
If so, check out the Ladies Only Track Sessions (LOTS) at the ADT Event Center Velodrome.  The girls-only program has grown quite the reputation for providing women with opportunities to see what track cycling’s all about whether they’re experienced cyclists or not.    
Under the coaching and direction of Velodrome Director Roger Young, LOTS teaches women the basic skills needed to ride on the track. Often, participants even have the chance to learn from the world’s best. For instance – several reigning masters world champs have been on hand to share their experiences at this season’s sessions. Last year, attendees received instruction from elite riders like keirin world champ Jennie Reed and Becky Quinn who are now preparing for Olympic Team selection.

photo USA Cycling

The program only started a year and a half ago but has become so popular that its reach extends well beyond Southern California. Two ladies fly in from Arizona for the monthly sessions while another group of women drive over eight hours from Northern California to attend a session once a month. Several more women have plans to attend sessions from out of state.  
Located in suburban L.A., the ADT Event Center Velodrome is a world-class facility that could easily intimidate a newcomer, but the LOTS program is designed to make both experienced and inexperienced women feel comfortable.
“We definitely try to make everyone feel safe and welcome regardless of their background in or knowledge of the sport,” says LOTS Session Director Julia Cross.
Participants are free to get a feel for the discipline at their own pace, whether it takes three laps or three years to ride at the top of the track. Many of the women that attend LOTS sessions are road cyclists, mountain bikers, bike messengers or athletes in other sports while others have no athletic background whatsoever. Each session usually sees about eight to ten newcomers who are simply curious about riding on the track.
Take for instance the pair of moms that decided to give it a shot after several Saturdays on the velodrome infield where they watched their kids play volleyball. Wearing tennis shoes and gym shorts, they were fitted with rental bikes and borrowed helmets for their first time on two wheels since grade school. Two sessions later, they were riding on the blue line and their children are now enrolled in five-time Olympian Connie Paraskevin’s junior track development program.
If you observe a LOTS session, you’ll likely see women in t-shirts and blue jeans mixed with women in expensive cycling gear. Some bring their own track bikes while others are supplied with rentals from LOTS wrencher John Walsh.
“I learned a long time ago that a bike won’t make an eagle out of a turkey,” Cross says.  “If women learn to love cycling for cycling, the clothing and equipment will take care of itself. But I definitely believe that the heart is where the sport must begin.”
With a background as a marathon runner and road cyclist, Cross got her first taste of track cycling two years ago and it only took her six months to see the need for a program like LOTS. Disappointed to see so few women at open training sessions and even fewer at local track events, she approached Roger Young about setting aside some time on the track just for the ladies.
“If nearly 10,000 women can run the L.A. Marathon each year, then I knew there had to be plenty of fit women out there who weren’t on the track simply because they didn’t know about the track,” she said.
Although plenty of critics told her that women don’t ride on the track and nobody would show up - the first session held in October of 2006 drew 40 participants, 30 of which had never ridden on the track before. The following month’s session attracted 60 women.
“My original goal for the LOTS program was to have four free instructional training sessions that would attract a maximum number of women to the track to allow them to experience track racing,” the program’s founder explained. “Once we began to realize the impact those first four sessions had, we knew we had to continue and grow the program as far into the future as we could see.”
A year and a half after its start, the program continues to attract women to the velodrome once a month with an average of 30 ladies attending each session this winter. Of the more than 200 women that have attended LOTS sessions, 20% of them are now training regularly while 10% race regularly.
So what does the program’s future look like? Cross, who just passed the exam for her Level 3 coaching license, says there’s LOTS in store. The plan is for LOTS to become its own legal entity, opening the door to additional funding through sponsorship – funding that will pave the way for more training sessions, clinics, and camps as well as a quality coaching staff and women’s specific track products.
“All of this will give the LOTS program the opportunity to become portable and will allow us to expand further into the community and to our sister tracks in California and beyond,” she explained.

WHERE: ADT Event Center Velodrome in Carson, Calif.
WHEN: The sessions are held on the 2nd Saturday of each month from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted on the velodrome calendar. Please plan to arrive by 11:30 a.m.
WHAT TO EXPECT: During the first hour, new riders will take an hour-long New Rider Certification Class while ladies with previous track cycling experience may begin riding immediately. During the second hour, new and experienced riders come together for coaching and mentoring.
COST: The cost is $10 per session and includes the one-time new rider certification class, track session fee, and a rental bike if needed.  
FOR MORE INFORMATION: To learn more, please contact LOTS Session Director Julia Cross at [email protected] or visit her blog at http://zippydsnail.blogspot.com.

This Article Published 2008-04-09 08:54:07 For more information contact: [email protected]

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