Nancy caught up with her friend Sarah Hammer for a chat.
Sarah Hammer is an American cyclist from California, her dad (Cliff Hammer) introduced her to cycling when she was only 8 years old, she’s been racing since she was 12 and won her first National title in 1995.
After competing for many years Sarah retired from cycling in 2003 burned out from the rigors of competitive cycling, but in 2004 she found inspiration again in the Olympic Games of Athens, watching her old teammates and rivals competing at the highest level.
She came back to cycling to show the world what she was capable of; she has amazing discipline and a willingness to do things right, always looking for perfection.
It’s her personality along with the support of her coach (and husband) Andy Sparks that has lead Sarah to become World Champion 4 times, member of the United States Olympic Team in 2008 (where she finished 5th in the individual pursuit), winning multiple World Cups and breaking 2 World Records last year in the PanAm Champs (individual pursuit and team pursuit with compatriots Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo.)
[N] It was pretty impressive to watch you break the World Record in Aguascalientes last year, when you walked to the start line you had that look in your eyes saying that you were going for it. What did it mean to you? Where you targeting that when you went to Aguascalientes?
[S] Yes, when I decided to go down to Aguascalientes I went to try to break the Individual Pursuit Record. We knew it was a great opportunity in a race environment that doesn’t come by very often. The track was brand new, really beautifully built and at an altitude of around 6000 feet.
[N] It was also great to see Andy coaching you and cheering for you every step of the way, I know is a victory for the two of you. What is it like to have him as a coach?
[S] Yes, it’s great, he is my biggest supporter hands down. It’s such an amazing journey that we both have been a part of, and together every step of the way.
Sarah Hammer World Track Championships – ©Copyright Paul Sloper
[N] It’s no secret that you’re targeting the gold medal in London Olympics. How did your preparation change when the UCI removed the Individual Pursuit and put the Omnium in the Olympic program?
[S] Yes it was a pretty big blow to hear the news of the removal of the individual from the program. Although I have had some success with the new omnium I still believe that it was a total mistake to remove the individual pursuit. I am excited about the new Women’s Team Pursuit and I think that this is only going to make women’s cycling grow and get more depth.
[N] We all saw you winning almost every competition in the last track season; whatever you’re doing you’re definitely doing it right. What does it takes to be in top form for the omnium?
[S] A lot of hard work!! No, really I do a medley of different things in a week, from road rides to track and gym. Each time I’m on the track I’m working something specific for the omnium. So it does keep it fresh and new but some days I long for my pursuit bars!!
World Championships Apeldoorn – ©Copyright VeloImages
[N] You and Andy were based in Switzerland the past season and now you are based in Spain, it doesn’t matter where you’re based, you are always traveling for races or training camps. I know from experience that being away from home is very hard, especially when is a country with a different culture and language. What kind of impact does it have on your life? Do you ever get homesick?
[S] Absolutely I do get homesick sometimes. I miss my family and my puppies. I do keep in touch regularly with my parents each week on Skype so that’s good. The major positive is that I am here with my husband so that makes things a lot easier.
Sofi Arreola congratulating Sarah after Women’s 3000 Metre Individual Pursuit World Record ©Copyright Nancy Arreola
[N] What do you miss the most when you are away from home?
[S] I miss the food the most. I am a SoCal [Southern California] girl so I need my Mexican food!!
[N] What do you like to do when you have a break from racing, do you have a hobby?
[S] I love exploring new places and hiking, that sort of thing. I am a major book reader.
[N] What are your plans for the next season?
[S] Next season plans are to keep progressing by earning points in both the Omnium and the Team Pursuit. Try to win a world title next year in Melbourne and then hopefully get to stand on the podium in a years time in London.
[N] Can you give advice to other riders that are trying to succeed?
[S] Give your 100% commitment in training and racing. Whatever you‘re doing right now, do it 100%
[N] Thank you for your time Sarah, I think everyone is excited to see you racing again. You’re a great role model and an inspiration to many riders and I hope you have another extraordinary season towards the London Olympics and accomplish that dream of winning the gold medal!
Sarah & husband Andy – USA Olympic Team Beijing
To find more out about Sarah click here to go to her website.
To find out more about the USA Cycling Team click here.
Sarah’s major career results include:
– Four-time World Track Cycling Champion
– 2008 United States Olympic Team
– World Record Holder – 3 Kilometer Individual Pursuit (3.22.2)
– Ten Times World Cup Gold Medalist
– 20 National Championship Cycling Titles
Our thanks to Sarah and all the photographers.
©Copyright 2011 Nancy Arreola & Anna Magrath @ Cycling Shorts. Please do not reproduce any content without permission from either Nancy or Anna and the photographers.
Getting All Artistic
by Jody Cundy MBE
Well here I am on the eve of the World Championships here in Montichiari, I’ve had 3 sessions on the track since arriving here, and each one of them has been more and more encouraging. The track feels fast, and my legs feels good, I just hope that feeling lasts for the next 3 days as I have a lot of racing to do between now and Sunday evening. First up is the pursuit, the big unknown for me, sure I’ve done pursuits before, but this is the first time I’ve focused on it and trained with the goal of competing at a major championship, and with London [Olympics] just over a year away it will be an interesting test. After the pursuit I’m into more familiar territory with the kilo and team sprint both, of which I’m aiming to retain my world titles in.
In preparation for these worlds, as a team we’ve spent 2 weeks training on the boards of Newport velodrome, mainly to get away from the chaos and busy track in Manchester as the able-bodied team prepared for the world championships, but also to prepare together as a team. Over the 2 weeks in Newport my training covered all aspects of my racing with starts, pursuit and flying efforts and team sprint practice. During the 2nd week we had the trial for the team sprint, with 4 riders going for 3 places. Rik Waddon and Darren Kenny were competing for man 1, and myself and Terry Byrne were trialling to see who would ride 2nd and 3rd man. The trial was basically 2 full team sprints, and everything would be recorded and filmed so all elements of the ride could be analysed. First up was Darren, myself and Terry, this turned into a mission, as on the first try I picked up a puncture in turn 1, meaning an abandoned attempt, then sat on the start line for the re-run my helmet buckle fell off my aero helmet, so with my road helmet on it was 3rd time lucky! (Hope it’s not going to be like this at the worlds!) With a smooth start and equally smooth changes our benchmark was set. 60mins later we were up on track again, this time with Rik leading off and myself and Terry switching order. This time the trial went smoothly with another really good ride in the bag.
Amazingly both rides were inside the current WR, so things were looking up and it was nice knowing that we had world class backup rider no matter what team we’d go with. The following morning once the coaches had analyzed all the footage and crunched the numbers, the team sprint was selected, Darren Kenny man 1, Terry Byrne man 2 and myself man 3, a new team line up lets hope our debut goes well.
Also on the Newport camp I took part in a photo shoot with photographer Richard Booth, who is producing a coffee table book of London 2012 hopefuls. I’m looking forward to seeing the shots in print as the samples I saw a glimpse of looked amazing. Actually it’s been a month of photo shoots, as just before I left for the world championships I was invited by Sky Sports to take part in a shoot they were doing for their 20th Anniversary, again it was for another coffee table book, with all these books I’m not sure where my coffee’s going!
Once Newport was over it was back to the boards of Manchester, but not as a rider, entering a contest on Cycling Weekly’s facebook page I found myself the winner of 2 tickets to the Manchester leg of the World Cup. I had a great day, and was soaking up the home atmosphere, and imagining what it’s going to be like in London with twice the amount of people cheering that loud, London really is going to be something special, but lots of training to do before then!
Inspired by the world cup performances it was back to the boards of Manchester to put the finishing touches to our preparation and start the all important taper.
Outside of the cycling I’ve been busy working on my website, and after months of it being under ￼construction it’s actually finished and fully up and running, so go take a look www.jodycundy.com any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Prior to coming to Italy I ended up getting all artistic, with my prosthetic cycling leg. I’d had a few conversations with potential sponsors and it became clear that for some reason my disability on the bike wasn’t visible. I guess my black carbon leg was blending into my black carbon bike. Anyway a quick trip to Halfords and I had sand paper, primer, paint, and clear lacquer. Now I just needed a paint booth, as the weather was awful outside, so our shower room became a temporary booth and masked it all off making sure everything was covered! (Thanks Christina! Can’t believe she agreed to it!)
Anyway leg all keyed up it was primer time, what a transformation that made, the leg looked completely different with just the white primer on, I couldn’t wait to get onto the next level of paint, but patience was the key and I had to wait for it to dry completely. Good job I wasn’t on the track with it for a few days. Once the paint was dry it was time to give the leg some colour, with some world bands applied with trusty coloured electrical tape, I then spent the afternoon printing out transfers, before spending hours carefully applying them to the leg. A quick clear coat over the top and it was all finished. A bright white leg, carrying the world bands, finished off with my name, a Union Jack, my leg sponsors logo, and my final finishing touch, 7 gold medals for each of my World and Paralympic cycling titles, if all goes well it would be nice to add a few more! Check out the pics.
Jody's Leg - Image ©Copyright Christina Kelkel
I have to say I’m looking forward to these championships, it’s seems like an eternity since I’ve raced at the very top level, and I can’t wait!
Also it will be the first time all the members of the Para-T team I helped set up will be together. The next time will be at out debut race, at the Good Friday track meeting in Manchester on April 22nd.
Well until next time, and stories from the world champs. Happy Cycling!
All images ©Copyright Christina Kelkel