Taking part in the Women’s Team Series race at Virginia Waters this weekend will be a former canoeist, Tracey Dresch, riding for the ShuttVR Squadra Donne team
Tracey joined the team run by founder of the Women’s Team Series, Jon Miles last year as a guest and in 2012, is a fully fledged member of the squadra. “I hadn’t done any racing before” Tracey explained “and they were very helpful and welcoming. At the end of the season, Jon asked me to join full time.”
Tracey’s background is in canoeing and having represented GB, I guess we can assume Tracey’s is a dam good athlete! “When I retired from that” she explained, “I was doing cycling to keep fit and it was by chance that I went along to one of my local races and Jon was there and he just said to have a go.”
“Last year was my first year road racing although I had done some time trialling the year before that with Evesham Wheelers.”
Once upon a time, teams were only for the professionals but now, cyclists can choose a club, a team (or they chose them) or just race with a private members licence (BC events). Tracey has chosen to be part of a team and explains why?
“It’s really nice being part of the team as you have the support of the other girls and I was used to being part of a team when I was canoeing. In a club, you don’t necessarily have that close knit group of people that you can go off and race with. It’s nice having the other girls around and if you have a bad day, you all support each other and the same when some one does well.”
Asked why she likes the SHuttVR Women’s Team Series, Tracey replied “it gives everyone a chance to have a go and is not exclusive. I was worried about doing it when I came into the sport and it gave me a stepping stone to get into racing.”
Tracey admits both canoeing and cycle racing are tough sports and that coming out of canoeing has helped with her endurance needed in cycling. Tracey is also self-employed and says that has helped a lot because it gives her the option of training during the day.
Tracey spent the winter getting in a good base as she recognised last year that the longer rides were needed to race on the road. “Last year I broke my hand and wasn’t able to do the long rides that you need to be able to do so I’ve done a lot of longer rides this winter including a four hour ride during the week and I am hoping that has given me a good base to work from.”
Getting coaching though for cycling proved a little tough. “I didn’t have instant access to a coach for cycling and that was a problem. You go through the club system and people feed you stuff but actually getting a coach is tricky.”
“I happened upon a good chap Tim Wood (Echelon Cycles) and explained the dilemma to him and he’s helped me a lot including making sure I have enough rest time which was something I didn’t appreciate because as I was getting older, my mentality was I needed to be out there training twice a day doing as much as I can but in reality, as the older I get, I find I need more recovery time.”
Asked what her biggest challenges were coming from canoeing into cycling, Tracey replied “my biggest fear was whether I’d be able to get round and finish the races and I have managed to do that.”
Tracey, left, lines up for the team picture with the other girls in Shutt Squadra Donne. Lets hope the girls don’t need their umbrellas this weekend at the second round of the ShuttVR Women’s Team Series.
“I had problems with cramping and have had to work on that. Having been at the top of my game in the past and to go back and start again at the bottom has been quite hard.”
Tracey would do marathon canoe races with massive fields and that proved as scary as riding a bike race shoulder to shoulder with fellow racers. “It was equally scary as a bike race as everyone in canoeing would have their paddles out and there were people getting knocked into the water and wacked in the head!”
“So riding in a bunch wasn’t as strange as it could have been because I was used to being in close proximity to other canoeists. At my age, I don’t want to be crashing so I have to be even more aware of where I position myself in the bunch and who I’m riding alongside with.”
“I have found being at the front is best but then you have to do your share of work and so it’s getting the balance of not doing too much and staying safe.”
Tracey explained she’s not a sprinter so is happy to help her teammates in ShuttVR Squadra Donne to get to where they need to be in the peloton. “We know our roles and what we good at” she says.
Like probably 99 per cent of the peloton in women’s racing in Britain, Tracey is not a full time cyclist and also has a family and that has meant one thing; compromise.
“When I was doing the GB canoeing, family life suffered and it can’t help but do that so there comes a point when you think, I’ve done this for me, now I need to think about my other commitments which I did. My children are now teenagers so it is getting easier for me but I did go through a phase where if you want to be a mum and do a good job of it, you don’t have the time to give to your training and you have to do things for your family which comes first.”
One thing Tracey says, that never seems to go though is that competitive edge. Tracey admits she had hoped it would by now but it hasn’t! Asked what the goals were then for 2012, Tracey replied, “what I want this year is for us is to have a good team that comes together well and we do a good job for our sponsors.”
Good luck to Tracey and the girls in ShuttVR Squadra Donne this weekend.