I first remember meeting Dotsie Bausch at the Pomona Valley Stage Race (now San Dimas Stage Race) in 2000 where she impressed me with her climbing ability. She was just starting her racing career at that time and I was in my final year of racing after 13 years. Since then, Dotsie has become a 6x US National Champion and holds the Current World Record in the 3K Team Pursuit on the track. We chatted about her mentoring role with and philosphy of the SC Velo/Empower Coaching Systems Women’s Team, women’s racing in general, plus advice for new riders on getting started into racing and how to take your racing to the next level.
SoCalCycling.com: The SC Velo/Empower Coaching Systems Women’s Team had a successful season. Can you tell us how the team came about and what your goals are with the Team?
Dotsie Bausch: This has been a dream of mine ever since I had the amazing support and mentorship of Team Earthlink with Katie and Jim Safford when I first started out 12 years ago. I knew I was lucky because all I had to do was look around and see that there was not this kind of support and tactical mentorship on the other amateur teams.
Lea Adams, our team manager also shares in the goal of giving back and bringing the next generation of great women racers up through the ranks, and she has been instrumental in organizing this team and making it really happen.
Our goal is simple; to bring up the next generation of women cyclists to be not only strong and powerful on and off the bike, but tactically sound, technically savvy, humble and caring doers who make smart race decisions and who want to pass on the torch to the next up and comers and do the same for them.
SoCalCycling.com: The Team is comprised of veteran riders as well as up and coming riders looking to gain experience at some of the bigger races and at the NRC level, do you see this as a successful model (experienced riders mentoring up and coming riders) that more local women’s teams should use as a model to help develop new riders?
Dotsie Bausch: Absolutely. I can’t think of a better environment to be in. The veterans not only bring experience about the sport, racing knowledge and technical mentorship but the veterans are able to be relaxed. We are not concerned with our own individual results any longer. We want to see these new girls win the races, and they are able to learn in a relaxed environment where the support is both emotional and mental, which in my opinion is 75% of winning a bike race. Many times, the veterans end up winning a race and it’s such a great learning environment for the newer racers to see how that unfolded and happened from within the race itself. The newer girls bring enthusiasm to the veterans and excite us to want to race more. I was infused with a renewed passion for road cycling last year being on this team. It had started to loose its allure for me after I switched to the track, and these girls brought it back out in me. It’s really a cyclical relationship between the newbies and the oldies.
SoCalCycling.com: What types of qualities (both on and off the bike) were you looking for in the riders when selecting the roster?
Dotsie Bausch: Personality, easy going nature, no diva like behavior, determined, dedicated women who want to improve and want to learn the right way.
SoCalCycling.com: Your Team had the opportunity to compete at some of the bigger races, such as the Cascade Classic and Nationals, how did that experience go for the up and coming riders?
Dotsie Bausch: They sure got a taste of the big time. It was pretty rough for some of them, but they impressed me so much. They never gave up and I will tell you that a few of those stages were much harder than when I raced that stage race. One stage was 12,000 feet of climbing. They never stopped trying. I think part of that was how we ran the ship from the get-go. We sat down as a team in the beginning and I laid down the ground rules that we are to respect one another, help one another, support each other and be there for each other. Otherwise, why suffer like a dog all alone with no one to share it with? They really had fun too, which is not easy to do when you are exhausted. They had a big room upstairs at the host house where they all slept on air mattresses and I was in a small room next door by myself, and they would stay up laughing until 2am. I was like “girls, you have to shut it off. There is a race tomorrow, ya know?” But that’s what kept them going. They were having so much fun. Those are the memories you take with you whether you end up making it as a professional in sport or not. Those are the friendships that last.
SoCalCycling.com: Since we have less road races and stage races in SoCal than we used to, do you feel the local races and mileage offered are difficult enough to prep the riders to make the jump to the NRC level? If not what advice would you give them to prepare their fitness and skills for the NRC level?
Dotsie Bausch: Try every type of race offered. Don’t pigeon hole yourself as a “crit” rider or as a “climber” or whatever. You have to try everything and you have to keep trying. I see so many local girls only race crits because they think, “oh I might get dropped at Boulevard, or Devil’s Punchbowl.” The truth is, yes, they may get dropped but they will never get better at their weakness if they aren’t willing to be exposed, to try the disciplines they aren’t gifted in, and to allow themselves to fail. You have to fail 100 times before you succeed once. The NRC requires a rider to be able to race every type of race, and the big teams are not interested in someone who can only do one thing.
SoCalCycling.com: There are so many women that ride for fun or come from other sports like triathlon or mountain biking, what advice would you give to women that have never tried racing and want to try racing for the first time?
Dotsie Bausch: Oh boy, I guess just get out there and give it a go. There are categories for a reason, so you will start as a cat. 4 and won’t have to compete against anyone whose level is much higher than yours. Ask questions before and after. Don’t stop trying to learn the ropes.
SoCalCycling.com: Bike racing is a very difficult sport that has its share of more suffering than not. It requires dedication to training, commitment to short and long term goals and challenging yourself in events and training that will prepare one for later events. We both remember getting dropped when starting out, can you tell about your experience of just starting out?
Dotsie Bausch: My coach at the time, who most of you know, Jamie Paolinetti just kept sending me out to group rides where he knew I would get dropped. He kept making me go, over and over, weekend after weekend. I got so lost once on the Simi Ride because I was dropped in the first 20 minutes that I ended up somewhere near the coast and had to take a $60 cab ride back to where my car was. The point was, he wanted me to keep going, keep trying, push myself a little more every time. If you can place yourself way outside your comfort zone, then once you find a comfortable place again, you will see the growth that has taken place is massive, way more than if you had done it little by little. His methods were pretty harsh in my opinion, but they were very effective. You do have to have thick skin though to handle that type of torture, because in the beginning I thought I just sucked all day, everyday at this sport. However the mental advantage I took from that type of training has stuck with me throughout my career and has been pivitol in my race results in many ways.
SoCalCycling.com: What can fellow competitors and promoters do to encourage more women to stick with bike racing that try it and may be struggling?
Dotsie Bausch: It’s a never-ending question on what promoters can do. Some promoters are doing it now, like David Laporte of Nature Valley Grand Prix. I do know what competitors can do though. Be kind and encouraging to the newbies. You never know who you will inspire until you reach out. I remember Dede Barry and Pam Schuster reaching out to me. Those moments stuck with me forever. Fellow competitors can do so much to grow the sport by just being a positive example of how to race their bikes. Don’t yell and spit fire during a race at a newer girl, but be encouraging and take it upon yourself to go find her after the race and offer advice, help, mentorship. Women are much more accepting and responsive to advice that is given with care, instead of with anger.
SoCalCycling.com: What advice would you give women that are looking to make the jump and take the next step to becoming a better racer?
Dotsie Bausch: Stop trying to do it all yourself. Hire a coach, and I say that not only because I believe in my coaching business (Empower Coaching Systems) but also because I was the beneficiary of some amazing coaches that shaped who I am as a bike racer and I would never have gotten to my goals without them. When you get to a certain point, its just time to hire someone who knows what they are doing and can guide you. Same thing as why you would not put a new roof on your home. It’s a job for a professional roofer. Let someone who knows the ropes and knows how to train you to get there be your guide.
SoCalCycling.com: The SC Velo team is excited to announce that they have added veteran Ruth Clemence to their roster as well as new riders Tammy Wildgoose and Lisa Campbell for 2011. Dotsie is focusing on track racing for the 2012 Olympic Games and currently holds the World Record along with her teammates in the 3 Kilometer team pursuit event. She will depart two days after Thanksgiving for round one of the World Cup season in Melbourne, Australia.
Thanks for your time Dotsie and best of luck with the upcoming World Cup season!
Interview by Christy Nicholson, SoCalCycling.com