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Michelle Lee and Cheryl Osborne: 50/50 in 50

Michelle Lee and Cheryl Osborne

Episode 18

I think 50 years would be an awesome mark to have racing on the track be fifty-fifty by gender.”

-Michelle Lee



This week on Talk of the T-Town, Joan sits down with Michelle Lee and Cheryl Osborne, our newest board members, to discuss their cycling background, what they hope to accomplish in their new roles, and getting back into the swing of things for 2021.


Michelle Lee


Instagram: @halfdraft
Mathletes Racing Instagram @MathletesRaceBikes
Instagram: @WBPHLracing

Cheryl Osborne

Instagram: @superco777
Instagram: @artemis.racing


Michelle Lee and Cheryl Osborne, our newest board members.

Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast, where we discuss all things track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director Joan Hanscom, along with my cohost, athletic director Andy Lakatosh. Welcome to the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom, executive director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center. Andy Lakatosh is still enjoying the sunny weather out in Southern California, so he is not joining us today. Instead, we have two guests.

Joan Hanscom:

We’re sitting down with the two newest members of our board of directors, two women that I am proud to call friends. Let’s talk a little bit about their motivations in accepting their nomination to The Velodrome’s board of directors, what they hope to accomplish in their respective roles, and we’ll talk about all sorts of good things, like running teams, racing for fun, getting back into the swing of things for 2021, knock on wood, and more. With all of that said, we’ll get on with the show.

Joan Hanscom:

Today, joining us from Philadelphia, Michelle Lee. From Washington, D.C., Cheryl Osborne. Michelle is a bike commuter, traveler, racer, coach and advocate of bikes. She started racing as a New York City resident at the Kissena Velodrome and earned her cat two upgrade here at T-Town, spending several years competing on Tuesdays and Friday nights. Currently, she manages Mathletes Racing, which is an amateur women’s road and track team, and WBPHL Racing, a volunteer-driven beginner racer program that has introduced over 150 riders to their first bike racing seasons in seven years.

Joan Hanscom:

She serves on the board of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Off the bike, she has a 15-year career in shaping software, including helping governments adopt modern text and email, building new internet protocols and inventing Google Forms. That’s a long list of pretty nifty accomplishments. And Cheryl’s bio. Cheryl is awesome. She started racing in 1995 … No, riding in 1995. Started racing in ’97 and founded Artemis Racing in 1999. That is the program that is still going today, which is incredibly impressive for those who know the life cycle of bike racing teams.

Joan Hanscom:

When she is not on her bike, she works for the Department of Homeland Security as a security specialist. She got her start here on the track in 2010 as the MABRA Track Championship was her first race on the track, and it was the tie-breaker for winning the bar that year. Cheryl jumped on the track here at T-Town back in 2010 and has been coming back to us ever since. As you can guess from the introductions, both women are incredibly passionate about and involved in the sport of cycling, and have contributed much to the racing community here in the Mid-Atlantic region by running teams, recruiting women into the sport, and broadly getting more people involved in the sport, including me.

Joan Hanscom:

I joined Cheryl’s Artemis Racing program way back in 2000 and fell in love with the sport then. As I’ve told many people over the years, I have Cheryl to blame for my career in bike racing. Welcome to you both, and I’ll say it up front … I am so thrilled that the two of you have accepted nominations to the board. Knowing you both, I know you’re going to be active contributors to our organization and bring a lot of fresh perspective and energy.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a really easy thing to sit back and complain about stuff and sort of quarterback from the sidelines. It’s another thing entirely to roll up your sleeves and work to make the changes you want to see in the sport. You’ve both been doing that for so long that I am excited to bring that energy into our organization. Let’s jump right in. Cheryl, you have been racing bikes and running a team for more than 20 years. As we mentioned, the legendary Artemis Racing. As some may know, I am on the board of directors for the Amy D. Foundation. We brought Julie Kuliecza as our executive director, who is another woman doing great work in the sport.

Joan Hanscom:

When Julie and I were discussing inviting new members onto the Amy D. Board, she said, “I would like to ask Cheryl Osborne.” My response to her was, “No way. We just invited Cheryl to join our board. Did you know that she taught me how to race bikes 20 years ago?” Julie’s response was, “No way. Cheryl taught me to race bikes 10 years ago.” I thought that was amazing, and it just speaks so much to the impact that you have made in the sport. Tell us briefly about yourself and why you said yes to joining the board?

Cheryl Osborne:

Cool. Hi Maura, Joan and Michelle. Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk about bikes and to share a bit about myself, my team and Artemis Racing and what brought me to this place with you all right now. I’ll try to give you the cliff notes version of my journey here. It began when two [Eddie Fisher 00:05:14] mountain bikes got mistakenly delivered to a house I was renting. The landlord told me to keep one and he kept the other one, and I started riding it.

Cheryl Osborne:

Interestingly enough, my first big ride was in PA, in Valley Forge. It’s so interesting to me that here I am, circling back to a huge program in PA. I kind of got hooked on it. I hooked up with a group of riders who kind of took me in and mentored me and taught me things about bike life. A couple years later, I ran into this guy in Rock Creek Park who introduced himself as David. I’m like, “Okay. Cool. Whatever.” A year later, he asked me out on a date. Two years later, we got married. 24 years later, we’ve got two kids, four grandkids, two cats, three snakes and a whole bunch of miles on the road between us.

Joan Hanscom:

And how many bikes, Cheryl?

Cheryl Osborne:

Not as many as you would think. I have two road bikes, two track bikes, a mountain bike and a spin bike. Is that a lot?

Joan Hanscom:

No. For you, it’s a surprisingly normal quiver of bikes.

Cheryl Osborne:

I’ve had others, but they weren’t getting ridden. It just seemed so awful to me to have a bike collecting dust on it. I have sold several bikes over the years. Of course, I still have buyer’s remorse. I want them back. But you can only ride one bike at a time.

Joan Hanscom:

This is the truth. This is the truth.

Cheryl Osborne:

That kind of sucks. I started racing actually on David’s team. I was the only woman. Even though I was the second most successful racer on that team, next to David, they still didn’t give me the respect that I needed. Evelyn [inaudible 00:07:08] snagged me because she saw me training. I used to ride at this hill past her house all the time, so she kind of grabbed me, and I joined her team, which was a women’s team but wasn’t really all that interested in supporting women in the sport.

Cheryl Osborne:

She and I and two others formed the Board of Artemis, and we took a whole bunch of other women’s riders back in 1999. Our mission was to support women in the sport of cycling, because what we were seeing was that women were coming into the sport but they weren’t staying. Because there was nobody the first year, it was kind of like, “Eh.” It pushes you one way or the other. If there is nobody to help you out and give you a hand up when you’re trying to make that decision whether or not to continue, they would generally just fall by the wayside. I have to give a lot of that credit to Evelyn as far as her being able to really grow the sport for women from way back. We went from fields of 10 to fields of 30. You remember, Joan, back when-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Cheryl Osborne:

You were there in the heyday.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. The women’s fields were big. It was us and BBC were both big teams. There was a lot of great racing back then.

Cheryl Osborne:

Yeah. It was awesome. The siren of the track got me, as Joan mentioned earlier, is when I was in a battle for the 35-plus bar, and I had to race the track and win it to win the bar. I had never been on a track bike. I had never seen a velodrome in person. But I just happened to have a teammate, [Shaun Price 00:08:43], who was the trackie on the team. We call him “Track Shaun.” He just happened to have a bike in my size. He brought me up to the track the day before the race, and he gave me a quick clinic about what to do.

Cheryl Osborne:

The next day, I was so nervous. It was so stressful and exhilarating, all at the same time. I ended up winning the bar. The very next year, Track Nats was [inaudible 00:09:10] at T-Town. I’m like, “Okay. Cool. I don’t know what I’m at now. Let’s give it a try.” Racing that whole next year leading up to Nats, I just loved the vibe. I loved the people. I loved the community. The support was like everybody wanted everybody to succeed. You don’t really find that so much on the road. I just loved the sense of community, the sense of family, all of that.

Cheryl Osborne:

Now, as I find myself beginning to wean myself off of competitive racing, that’s when I got the call from you and from Julie to be a part of moving the sport forward off the bike. I just love it. I’m thankful for the opportunity. Honestly, I have no idea of the impact that I have had. I just do what was done for me. When I started, people were there to help me. I feel a real obligation to continue to pay that forward, because there are a lot of women who really don’t understand bike racing.

Cheryl Osborne:

Just have some fun, fit it into your real life and just go with it. Do whatever you can do. I try to take the pressure off of women. Just jump in there. I’ll be there to catch you if you fall, pick you up and we’ll keep it moving. I’m really excited for the option to try to encourage and increase participation at the track within MABRA, because right now, there are only a handful of us that race out there, mostly because nobody wants to make the drive. But the more you drive it, the closer it gets.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I love that trail because when I worked at USA Cycling, I used to use you guys as the example of athlete retention, and for all the reasons you said. You created that foundation. For me, as a rider, I felt like I went to my first race prepared. I felt like I was supported at every race. I felt like we were supported when we weren’t racing, when we were training, because we were learning all the time. I used that program as an example of why people stay in the sport versus why people drop out of the sport after two or three years all the time. I am incredibly happy to have you on the board, mostly because, again, everything you said I feel like I did.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m in the sport still to this day because of the foundation you guys laid for me. I hope we can do that for more riders here. I’m going to pivot over to Michelle, because much like Cheryl, Michelle Lee has been actively involved in running teams here in the Mid-Atlantic and growing the sport here as well. Michelle is active in two teams, as we mentioned, as well as the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. I met Michelle I think the first time at the Cherry Blossom Crit in New Jersey, where we bonded over our Van Dessels before you promptly kicked my butt in the race.

Joan Hanscom:

One of your programs is called Mathletes Racing, which, as an English major, I find absolutely completely terrifying. Mathletes Racing sounds extra intimidating, because you can do math and race bikes. I’ve always been extra curious about the name. Tell us about the name of the team. Tell us a bit about your background, what you hope to accomplish as a member of the board, and your own racing. Let’s start. Same thing with you, Michelle.

Michelle Lee:

Right. Thanks Joan, thanks Maura and thanks Cheryl. It’s great to be here with you all. I think I had a really individual entry into cycling and bike racing. I was in my first year of college, and I went to the bookstore and I saw this photocopied pamphlet on the shelves that I dug up the other day. It’s right here, ignore the camera. It’s called, “Bay Area Bicycle Trips,” and it’s old enough that it’s all hand-drawn. It has descriptions of all these bike rides.

Michelle Lee:

I just took this pamphlet and started riding out of campus into the foothills … This was at Stanford University … into the hills, all up the mountains, through the redwoods and back down, taking three hours to do a two or three-mile climb on my old mountain bike that I would tool around campus with. From there, my roommate and I decided one day to do a bike trip from Seattle to San Francisco. We also, again, just looked things up on the internet, read about how other people did it, and kind of planned our own trip.

Michelle Lee:

It wasn’t until, I think it was 2005, I went to a clinic that Lorri Lee Lown, now owner of Savvy Bikes was running for women and cycling skills. At that clinic, someone said, “Hey, have you ever thought about racing?” Once again, looked it up on the internet … I guess I do a lot of things that strangers tell me to do on the internet … and found a beginner bike race series across me. It was like 13 miles away.

Michelle Lee:

I looked up directions and started riding over there, and on the way saw a bunch of women also wearing spandex. It was what would later become the TIBCO women’s team. They said, “Are you going to the race? You should ride with us.” I got there. There is a separate beginner race for cat four riders who hadn’t done 10 races yet, and they had mentors alongside us, kind of yelling at us what to do.

Michelle Lee:

We started off the race with one to go. One of the riders that I had met that morning took off and the mentor next to me said, “Go, go, go. Get on her wheel.” We were in this final lap breakaway. Of course, it was doomed, but I think that was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me. I was really hooked on bike racing after that. I didn’t really know what to plug into, how to train or anything.

Michelle Lee:

I moved to New York City a year later and again found that the Kissena Velodrome was running a women’s clinic. I went out there on my Fuji. Everyone was commuting around on messenger bikes at the time. This was 2006 or so. Joe Brennan ran a clinic. They said, “Hey, there’s racing next weekend. It’s the New York State Championships. You’ve got to come out.” That kind of kicked off my love affair with the track. That was really the first racing that I had done consistently.

Michelle Lee:

We would sneak out of work early on Wednesday nights, get on the 7 train, take it all the way out to the end, to Queens, ride the two miles to the track to take my break off, race. Then, when we were done racing, ride 10 miles back through the city, get tacos and come back. Again, it was that social aspect, the community aspect that I think kept me hooked, in addition to just how exciting track racing was. All that commuting and stopping and starting at red lights, I think, is good for your standing start.

Joan Hanscom:

I just want to do a sidebar here, that both of you, your first track races were championship events. That’s amazing. I would never just ride … Me, because I’m such a planner and I’m such a Type A ballerina preparation rehearsal person that it would never be in my personality type to just rock up to a championship and say, “I’m going to throw down today in the championship race for my first one.” I think it’s awesome. I think it’s so ballsy of you both, so I love it. But you still haven’t answered the Mathletes question.

Michelle Lee:

Oh, the Mathletes question. All right. Well, I think with both Mathletes and WPBHL, I saw that … I like looking up things and going on adventures on my own. I’m really comfortable with that. But I saw a lot of women that I ride with who weren’t. That, I think, pushed me, along with seeing in my work life and software that the ratio of men to women is about 84 to 16. It’s almost identical to USA Cycling, slicing stats several years ago.

Michelle Lee:

I started thinking, if we could create these opportunities, like right when I moved out of New York City to Philadelphia, New York CRC, I was creating a lot more women’s racing opportunities. It was like, “Darn it. I just missed out on that. Maybe I can create that for other people here in Philly,” because it’s more fun when you go to a race and it’s a full field, and it’s exciting, and you have other people who are kind of at your level, also first-timers just starting to feel comfortable and needing that encouragement.

Michelle Lee:

That’s how the WBPHL development program … we call it DEVO … got started. And then, a few years later, I realized that I was missing that community as well, because you’re stuck between being a beginner and then being a professional racer who can dedicate all your time, who can base yourself out of T-Town. Myself and Heidi Goodson, who is a bonafide math professor, have been teammates on Kissena, and then reconnected in Minnesota one year and thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we started a cycling team called Mathletes? We can talk about how much counting you have to do on the track.”

Michelle Lee:

It’s kind of lonely to train for track racing at some point. One year, I remember going on a camping trip with my friends, but taking my road bike so I could do 45 10-second intervals in the middle of the state forest. It’s just there is a lot of geometry. There is a lot of physics. It’s really interesting, that relationship between your equipment, your body, speed and the sport.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s awesome. I’ve been so curious about that, and I love that there is an actual math connection to it. That’s awesome. I think one of the things we’ve heard from both of you, though, is that it’s this sense of, “How do we grow our women’s racing community? How do we make the women feel supported in our community?” It’s something that has obviously mattered very much to me here at T-Town, because it’s all those things that you say.

Joan Hanscom:

If you aren’t supported, if you don’t have people mentoring you or showing you the way, it can be a really intimidating sport. Not just track, but cycling, bike racing in general. I love that we’re all sort of on that same wavelength or train of thought about how this is something that we’re committed to that we love, that we found rewarding, and we want to help others discover it, too, and stay in it, and find that … I think we talked about it on an earlier podcast, when we were talking about the season setup. What are those bridges, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Instead of having to make massive leaps from Try The Track into racing, how do we create these stepping stones to bring people along so that it’s not as intimidating and you build that great foundation, and you build the community. And it is, like you said, more fun when there are other people doing it. It’s lame when you’re the only person in your race or there are three of you in your race, versus having a full field. I love that we’re all sort of riding on that same bit of energy.

Joan Hanscom:

Without beating the already dead horse, because I feel like I we talk about it every week on the podcast, COVID made 2020 really challenging. We’re certainly not out of the dark yet. But if we take the brighter look and think about the things that were positive coming out of 2020, last year, we focused a lot on local community and we had some really good weird fun here. We trained hard. There was a ton of TTs. But more broadly, last year, a ton of people bought bikes and they dragged their bikes out of their basement. They discovered or rediscovered the joy of biking.

Joan Hanscom:

I view this as a massive window of opportunity to tap into all of the things that you guys just talked about. I’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s the state of cycling and our sport? What’s the good? What’s the bad? Where do you see the opportunity where we are right now as we sort of start to ever so gently nudge our way out of COVID? I don’t know who wants to go first. Cheryl? Michelle?

Cheryl Osborne:

I’ll speak to it. Last year, for me, I thought it was kind of awesome, because what happens is you become more and more into bike racing. You lose the opportunity to just be a bike rider. All of us have been able to get back to just riding our bikes, enjoying our bikes while still training. I have met a lot of people. What we have done for the very first time, that I have been pushing for in Artemis … We were primarily a racing team.

Cheryl Osborne:

We have now formed a club portion of our team called Artemis Cycling, because what we saw was that, like you said, Joan, so many more people are riding and buying bikes and all of that stuff, and Artemis felt like that we were missing out on growing our team, because a lot of folks feel intimidated just by the name, “Artemis Racing.” I’m hoping that by capturing women in particular, and recruiting them and getting them to join us in Artemis Cycling, that that could be a segue into racing on the road and the track. I’m definitely trying harder and harder every year to plant track seeds in peoples’ brains, to the point that I tell them, “Just get to my house. I’ll drive if you don’t want to make the drive. We can stay in a hotel.”

Cheryl Osborne:

We love to try to plan field trips where on a Friday night we’ll watch a Friday night race, we’ll race on Saturday on the track, and then Sunday, we’ll find a crit somewhere in PA where we will just go for a ride if we can make a weekend out of it. Additionally, track is so much more family-friendly than being on the road. A lot of these new folks out here now are riding with their kids, so I’m like, “Hey, you could bring them up to the track. They can do the Red Robin series in the morning, you can race in the afternoon, and we can all go to Silver at-night Diner and have ginormous hunks of pie afterwards.”

Cheryl Osborne:

I’m trying to capitalize on all these new people out here to really still embrace their rec side, and maybe get them to start thinking about trying to race. I think, one way or the other, road or track, they’ll be close. I would really much rather hook them on the track, because I really think they would enjoy it more.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. What about you, Michelle? What are you seeing? What are you feeling in your community about bikes and bike racing and observing where we are and where opportunities lie?

Michelle Lee:

I think, similar to Cheryl, it’s been a really challenging year to carry on with bikes as usual. But that’s also created a really awesome opportunity to rethink what’s the role of these organizations within our community. For the DEVO program, I think the shutdown happened in our second week out of six. We pivoted immediately to individual challenges. We did weekly Zoom meetings and skills coaching virtually. For a lot of the riders, they said that was their only social connection during those few months. I think bikes have been that reprieve, that rest, that recharge for so many people all over the country and the world during this time, that I think there is a huge love for cycling that’s developed everywhere.

Michelle Lee:

For us, with the DEVO program, it’s traditionally been a six to eight-week bootcamp, if you will, at the start of road season or at the start of cross season or mountain bike season. We took this year to think about what it would be like to have a stronger year-round presence. People typically graduate from these programs and then they continue racing, but we don’t have a ton of programming for folks year-round. It doesn’t operate like a typical club, and I think there are pros and cons of that. This year we’re looking at weekly meetups or mechanic happy hours online, or smaller group rides that tap into bringing people together more than preparing them for a particular event, because the competitive landscape is so unknown.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think if we were to talk about some of the negatives we’re facing, I think that’s it, right? It’s how do we keep this momentum, moving forward, when the competitive calendar is so up in the air and there is so much unknown? I think here at the track, we’re in a bit of an easier position in that we demonstrated how to do it last year with time trials and safe options. We don’t rely on closing down public streets, where I think road racing has got a harder thing ahead of them, just getting the cities onboard with shutting down roads and stuff for racing because of gathering.

Joan Hanscom:

I think there is just a lot of questions. But I think that presents an opportunity for us here at the track where we know we’ve got a formula now that works, and we would like to go back to something that looks more normal. But how do we plan on keeping people who maybe do want to dip their toes into the racing waters? Racing is obscure, and how do we not lose them? I think that’s a big huge question.

Joan Hanscom:

For us, part of that building of community is this podcast, and it’s trying to keep people in our community engaged through the podcast and connected through the podcast. But I think there is a … As much as we see opportunity, there is risk. We don’t want people to drift away because we’re not able to ride together. I think it is requiring a bunch of creative thinking on how we keep that connection going as we emerge out of wherever little self-imposed quarantine we’re in. It’s opportunities and challenges, I guess.

Joan Hanscom:

Thinking into the future, then, hopefully a COVID-free future, four years from now is the 50th anniversary of the track. You guys have joined our board in a pretty historic timeframe. 50 years is a big number to have been a part of the community. If you had to say a vision for the next now four years, where you would like to see our community, where you would like to see our programming, where you would like to see our racing in five years when we hit that big 50th anniversary, where would you like to see us go? Put on your board member’s hat a little bit, and sort of talk about what you would love to see happening here at the track in five years, if we work real hard. Cheryl is making a face on Zoom.

Cheryl Osborne:

I’m thinking. For me, I think just a growth of what you already have going, because I honestly can’t think of anything that I would change. Just try to expand things a little more and maybe try to involve the mainstays, the folks that are erasing it up at the track consistently, to reach out. Maybe everybody bring somebody. That’s an awesome way to grow it, because if that person likes it, then they already track, maybe, and they’ll bring somebody else. Before you know it, you’ll have to have two women’s fields because the field is too big for one race. That would be awesome.

Joan Hanscom:

That would be amazing. What about you, Michelle? What do you think? Where can we get by 2025?

Michelle Lee:

Well, when you said 50th anniversary, it immediately made me think of a celebration. The celebration that came to mind is a hybrid between the state fair and Sea Otter, where you have everyone locally makes it a point to get out and come to this event every year. And then Sea Otter having a range of events, from kids’ rides and family rides, all the way through UCI racing, all matched up in one crazy hectic venue.

Michelle Lee:

I think T-Town and the organization is in an incredible position to do that because of the facility that’s there, the partnerships, the community partnerships and the incredible staff that are all in place. I think continuing to mashup the community programs and the racing, having one feed into the other and creating this really awesome potluck of different ways to enjoy and explore and challenge oneself in cycling. There is a lot of opportunity in that for the track. I am extremely excited. I think 50 years would be an awesome mark to have racing on the track be fifty-fifty by gender.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s amazing. I’ve-

Michelle Lee:

We know that’s really ambitious. But with you at the helm, I think that’s a really [crosstalk 00:31:15]-

Joan Hanscom:

I love it. I think that needs to become our campaign, the fifty-fifty for 50. That is amazing. We should. Maura and I are looking at each other nodding, like, “Yup. That’s the plan.”

Speaker 4:

That’s fantastic. We have to do that.

Joan Hanscom:

We’ve got to do that. That’s so powerful. It’s got the right cadence to it. I also love the idea of a 50th festival where we could run a gravel ride. We can run mountain bike skills. We can do a crit across the street. We can do all the bike things here, and a massive festival of bike fun for the 50th anniversary is something that I would love to see happen. I would love to see us really living up to that name of being a cycling center. Not just a velodrome, but a cycling center. I think we do so much of that here anyway.

Joan Hanscom:

Every week, we group ride that leaves out of here. The folks across the street for the crit, I think there is so much potential to grow this into such a hub of cycling. I know our partnership with Discover Lehigh Valley, that’s their goal. It’s part of their development plan to make the Lehigh Valley a cycling destination nationwide. Something like what you’re talking about, Michelle, would be such a cornerstone piece of that vision for the Lehigh Valley. I think it would be incredible. Yeah. I love that, though. Fifty-fifty in 50 is-

Speaker 4:

I mean, what, we’re already 70:30, almost.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Right. If we’re 70:30 today, there is no reason why we can’t be fifty-fifty in five years or four years.

Speaker 4:

Exactly.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s an audacious and awesome goal, and now I’m committing to getting there. On-air, right now, today, I am committing to fifty-fifty in 50. That’s amazing. Are we going to see you guys up here at the track this year? Michelle, you’ve just had a baby, who, by the way, everybody should just know that Michelle named her baby [August Yuchen Lee-Miller 00:33:23]. You said that Yuchen means, roughly, “At home at the edge of the galaxy,” which I have not stopped thinking about since you published that. I just think it’s incredibly lovely. What a name. That should be … I don’t know. It just struck me as so incredibly beautiful. How are you adapting to motherhood? And if Instagram is to be believed, you’ve been back out on your bike with the baby. Are we going to see you out here this year?

Michelle Lee:

Well, thanks, Joan. It’s been quite an adventure. I’ve been so lucky to have friends and acquaintances all around who have gone through a similar experience in the past year. There is a group of three friends here, teammates and other folks who were all due within the same month. We were doing pregnant lady rides all through the summer and fall. Just little spins, sharing experiences, staying active on the bike. I think August was born the same day as Gabe and Casey Lloyd’s baby as well.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh wow. [Hux 00:34:33].

Michelle Lee:

They share a birthday. I found my disk wheel in the basement the other day, and it’s so pretty, and I wanted to race it again. At some point, you’ll see me back on the track. Hopefully this year. We’ll see. Taking things one step at a time.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. Well, we’re going to maybe have to pull you out here for women’s weekend anyway. If only for one weekend, we’ll have to pull you out here for that, because I think that one is going to be a good one. And maybe for our couple that try the track stuff we’ve discussed. What about you, Cheryl? We didn’t see you up here much last year for the TTs. Are we going to see you back?

Cheryl Osborne:

For sure. Yeah. I came up one day last year because the [Kelley Program 00:35:20] was doing a clinic with Kim Geist and I got an invite, and so I came on up. I’m like, “Wow. I missed this so much.” And I’m like, “Man. Yeah. I got to get back.” I’ve already booked by room for Master Nats.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Cheryl Osborne:

I’m going to drag David back out. We’re really looking forward to it. As soon as, heck, I could probably come start riding up there now since I know the boss.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, except for the three feet of snow covering the track at the moment. It is so horrible here.

Cheryl Osborne:

Feel free to shovel.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s a lot of space to shovel, Cheryl.

Michelle Lee:

I think everyone Cheryl meets gets dragged into something or other by her, right? Because two years ago, I think it was the 2019 Masters Track Championships that was hosted at the track. I got an email from Cheryl that said, “Hey, do you ever do a team pursuit?”

Joan Hanscom:

Nice. Yup, that’s Cheryl. That is Cheryl in a nutshell. “Hey, come do this crazy shit with me.”

Cheryl Osborne:

Yeah. Adventure is more fun with friends.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely.

Cheryl Osborne:

And we got a silver medal out of the deal.

Joan Hanscom:

There you go. Awesome. That’s awesome. Who are you going to recruit this year, Cheryl?

Cheryl Osborne:

David.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s so awesome.

Cheryl Osborne:

Hoping for a mixed team sprint.

Joan Hanscom:

Cool. Speaking of David, is David going to make his track return as well? Super Dave?

Cheryl Osborne:

Yeah. We need to get him a bike. He’s only been racing on borrowed bikes. I need to get him a bike. It’s so funny to me, because when I finally got him to come up and try it, he had to start as a cat five. Now he’s a one on the road.

Joan Hanscom:

And not just anyone on the road, right? Dave has done a lot on the road. We’ll help him find a bike, I promise. We’ll help get him a bike.

Cheryl Osborne:

That would be awesome, because now he’s a cat four. Whoop whoop!

Joan Hanscom:

I would not want to line up as another cat four against Dave. That would be like, “Wait, what? I have to race you?”

Cheryl Osborne:

But see, here is the thing, and I kind of felt that way as well. Coming from so many years on the road, we both have a really deep respect for the fact that track is a much different animal than the road. Being a good road racer doesn’t always translate into being a good track racer. I’m trying to help some of the ladies, particularly, bridge that gap, and even some of the guys that I see. You can kind of look at someone and see how they ride, and know whether or not they would enjoy the track. I keep pushing for that. After three, four years of pushing this one particular guy on another team, he decided to come up and start trying the track. He loves it.

Joan Hanscom:

Nice.

Cheryl Osborne:

I think it’s just a matter of keep pushing, pushing, pushing, and encouraging. We won’t say I drag people, but, encourage them.

Michelle Lee:

All the road racers out there think track makes you a better road racer.

Cheryl Osborne:

It does. Yeah.

Michelle Lee:

Every day you’re up there you get three race finishes, at least. And then you get to watch maybe a dozen more. I spent some time training with Kim Geist, who is an absolute master of the craft. She will look at a field, look at the start line and say, “I think the race is going to split up after the second sprint. You need to be here at this time.” It’s super tactical, and I think that translates really well to the road. It’s great for the riders who don’t have a million watts, like myself.

Michelle Lee:

I remember a few weeks ago on the podcast, you hosted Elspeth Huyett, who said, “I never do well on those CompuTrainer races because it only measures the power you can produce and not how good you are at the craft.” I think one of the reasons that the track is so awesome and so enjoyable for me and for a lot of other people is you do the training, you have to have some baseline fitness, but then you show up and it’s a chess game.

Joan Hanscom:

Right. I think we’re going to see, because Kim has been running the Team T-Town program now for a full year almost, I am excited to see what amazing little tacticians those junior athletes are going to become under a full season of racing under Kim. That they are going to get to benefit from exactly what you said, right? How she can just see, and she is such a master of it. I think we’re going to see a whole bunch of just stellar juniors coming out of … Maybe not the next olympian, but folks that can find exactly what you said, right?

Joan Hanscom:

Find the joy in the tactical nature of the race and have that be a great foundation for a lifelong enjoyment of the sport as well. Can you imagine being such a lucky kid that every week you train four days with Kim Geist? That’s pretty remarkable. Hopefully we can start to spread that around a little bit more. Michelle, you and I have talked about doing some private Try The Tracks for some teams out of Philadelphia. Cheryl, obviously if you want to do a private Try The Track for your groups coming out of the D.C. area, we are absolutely happy to do that as well.

Joan Hanscom:

I think sometimes setting up private Try The Tracks, when you come up with a group of people that you all feel comfortable with, instead of intermingling with strangers that you maybe don’t ride with a whole lot or that you feel uncomfortable with, I think this opportunity to host private Try The Tracks, in addition to the more general open to the public try the tracks, is another real opportunity that we have in front of us to make it less scary and less intimidating, but to give folks that shot at learning.

Joan Hanscom:

From Elspeth, actually, who you just referenced, because she’s our go-to coach for Try The Track right now. But this is another tool we have in our toolbox here. For folks out there listening, either come do a Try The Track generally, or see if your team that you race out on the road wants to do a private Try The Track and we can set that up so that you could bring your whole program here and have a Try The Track session for just your group. But Michelle, do you want to talk about that a little bit? Because you’ve been cooking up some good stuff for us.

Michelle Lee:

Yeah. I mean, I think that this is just carrying on the theme of positive peer pressure, right? If you come up with folks you already know, you’ve been hanging out with, you’ve been riding with, you’re comfortable being vulnerable around, I think that makes it much more likely you’re going to get nudged over the line and try something that might be a little bit new and out of your comfort zone.

Michelle Lee:

I think that collegiate cycling has something really awesome that we might be able to borrow, which is they put a lot of emphasis on team scoring and cumulative points from every member of your team coming out and racing. That might be something we play around with in this strange season that is 2021, if there are incentive structures in the ranking and points for amateur racing that make it more likely that Cheryl can say, “Hey, we really need you. Just show up and you’ll help us score points, or we can set up team running season competitions or something between these groups.” I think the track is a great place to try that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. I think that’s an amazing idea, that you can see that turning into something great for Saturdays, right? If you’re coming out on Saturdays to race, what kind of inter-team rivalries can we foster, because there are a lot of teams. There are a lot of teams, and I know I race on a reasonably big team that has no track racers on it. Can I use that to tap into team pride to get them to come out and take on the ladies of Artemis, or Michelle, your program as well, though your ladies are faster, so maybe not.

Joan Hanscom:

I think all of this speaks to the fact that we are incredibly lucky to have you both on the board. This is not a knock at all, but I think when you stay within the gene pool, you just think the gene pool is always thought here. That’s not a knock. This has been an incredibly awesome and successful place. But if you want to grow in 2021, you just have to blow it out past the current gene pool and bring in new ideas. Bring in new thinking, like collegiate team incentive type programs, and reaching into the community with stuff like what Cheryl is doing with the Artemis Cycling members, making that family hook.

Joan Hanscom:

I think all of that just speaks to the value you guys are bringing to our board. I’m thrilled. Just teeing up right now the opportunity, what else do you guys want to do? What else do you want to talk about? What else do you want to see happen here short-term, long-term? Fifty-fifty in 50 is still in my head. Tell our listeners in one fell swoop, what is your vision, besides fifty-fifty in 50, which we’re going to do.

Cheryl Osborne:

My mission right now is really to just encourage more folks within MABRA. For anybody who doesn’t know, MABRA is the Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association. It encompasses D.C., Maryland, Delaware and Northern Virginia. Between me and the few others in the district that do race the track, I’m going to really press them or encourage them to really reach out and try to find ways to make the track more accessible.

Cheryl Osborne:

If that means carpooling or renting a van and driving everybody up, coming up with some district money to pay for hotel stays overnight, all these things that lighten the load on folks making the trip up. That’s pretty much going to be the goal. Also, to reach out to leadership within MABRA to come up with some ideas and money, quite frankly, to try to make this happen in terms of maybe purchasing a couple of track bikes for folks to use.

Joan Hanscom:

For our listeners, we’re going to put Cheryl’s contact information in the show notes on the website so that if you are in the district area or the MABRA region and you’re interested in latching onto the vision that Cheryl has got, if you’re track curious, we’ll make sure you have ways of getting in touch with Cheryl so that she can keep you looped in on anything that they get organized out of her end of the organization. And then Michelle, I’ll flip it over to you for your final thoughts. Your mission, moving forward.

Michelle Lee:

Yeah. Cheryl, I hope that track bus can make a stop in Philadelphia, too, so we can get a whole pile of folks up to the Lehigh Valley. I’m just really excited to be part of the board and to be working with you, Joan. You’ve been kind of a hero of mine, ever since I heard about the Pro CX series that you ran for about a decade. When you think about growing the sport, it takes a lot of parts of the ecosystem. You have to have the venue, the race promoters, the team structures, the community building.

Michelle Lee:

I think this year, especially, taking a look at how all of the different fantastic organizations, like Artemis, like MABRA, like WBPHL, the Bike Coalition, the velodrome can partner more on a group-to-group level, instead of starting from scratch in recruiting. I think there was a lot of potential there, as well as all of the really cool cycling clubs and teams that are growing in Philadelphia.

Joan Hanscom:

For the Philadelphia-based listeners, again, we will have Michelle’s contact, just like we’ll have Cheryl’s. If this is something that you feel more comfortable reaching out to your peer group within Philadelphia, get in touch with Michelle and we’ll make sure we facilitate on our end everything so that it’s fun, and easy, and safe and accessible. We will do all the good things together. I’m so excited. I think we’re building something really great here, and I’m excited to see where we can take it.

Joan Hanscom:

I just want to take another moment to thank you both for coming on to join us today, and just introducing yourselves to our listeners. I’m sure many of them already know you, but they don’t know you in the context of being on our board. I think this is another great next step in the evolution of our programming here. Thank you very much both for joining us. I know you both have real jobs and busy lives to get to, but it was really important to get you out and talking to folks and sharing your vision. Thank you.

Joan Hanscom:

This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with Michelle Lee, Cheryl Osborne, and me, Joan Hanscom. Tune in next week and find us on the platform of your podcast choice. Give us a like, give us a share and tune in again. Thanks to our listeners. Bye-bye. This has been the Talk of the T-Town Podcast with hosts Joan Hanscom and Andy Lakatosh. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode, brought to you by B Braun Medical Inc. Head on over to our website, thevelodrome.com, where you can check out the show notes and subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode. (silence)