By Caley Fretz
At only 23 years old, Team TIBCO-To The Top’s Amanda Miller is already something of a jack-of-all-trades. A podium finisher at both the cyclocross and mountain bike collegiate national championships in 2008, Miller has now proven her versatility on the road as well, winning everywhere from the flat Blue Dome criterium course at Tulsa Tough to the 12 percent cobbled climb at Iowa’s Snake Alley.
In just a few years, Miller went from shooting baskets at her rural Iowa high school to being one of the top female cyclists in the U.S., turning professional with Team Lipsmackers last year. For 2010, she joined her (unrelated) coach and mentor Meredith Miller, the current U.S. road Champion, at TIBCO.
VeloNews caught up with Miller after her latest victory at the St. Francis Tulsa Tough to find out more about her entry into cycling, the path of her development, and where she’s headed next.
VeloNews: First of all, fantastic win on Friday. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
AM: The team rode really well, we were really aggressive. The plan was to do late attacks, and I was in good position so I threw one in. It worked well, because we made the pace really hard, and one of my teammates was on the front and able to block for me when I went. It was my first NRC win, so I’m really happy it worked!”
VN: Tell us a little about your early cycling career, and how you progressed to where you are now.
AM: I started riding in high school to stay in shape for basketball season, then got a job at a bike shop, met some racers, and got into the racing scene. Racing was really low-key for me back then. After doing two years at community college in Iowa I transferred out to Colorado State University for training and the mountains, and school of course. I love racing collegiate; I learned how to race as a member of a team, and I met a lot of knowledgeable people. A lot of those people helped me get where I am today.
VN: So collegiate cycling was a big stepping-stone for you?
AM: The collegiate racing was a pretty big step I would say. It opened my eyes to the whole teamwork thing, and it was just a different level of racing.
After I had some success at collegiate nationals, I rode for the Collegiate All-Star team, which helped me get on to my first pro team, Lipsmacker. I started being coached by Missy Thompson, and then later I was coached by Meredith (Miller). Both those ladies have been a huge influence on me.
VN: What was your first pro season like?
AM: I went to Europe last spring with the U.S. Development Team, and I learned even more about racing, the position factor, and just gaining confidence in a field of 180 women. Chris Georgas, the director over there, was really amazing. The racing over there definitely helped when I came back here.
Last year was really my first whole season doing NRC races, and having the European experience made a huge difference. I felt a lot more confident in the pack and was better able to position myself. The European racing was a great; it forced me to a higher level of professional riding when I got back here.
VN: Talk about your future, short term. What are you goals from now through the end of road season?
AM: I don’t have a whole lot of personal goals yet, just a lot of team stuff. I just like to help the team be successful.
At the beginning of the season I really wanted to go to Europe, and I was able to do that for the Tour de l’Aude. And we, as a team, would like to do well at Nationals. It would be cool to win a national title. I’d like to do well at Stillwater again, and Nature Valley. And I’ll be dong some more European races later in the year as well, which I’m very excited about.
VN: Women’s racing has a lot of focus on the Olympics, and there are teams expressly dedicated to developing women for the 2012 Games. Are you taking a serious look at riding in the 2012 Olympics?
AM: I would like to, but 2016 is probably a little more realistic since I don’t have a ton of European experience. I don’t know what my plan is for next year — if I can do even more racing in Europe, then 2012 might be a better goal. But right now it’s hard to say. My hopes are definitely to go to the Olympics in one of the next two Games. I’d really like to go and race some World Cups, and maybe a World Championship as well eventually. Then I would feel more ready for the Olympics.
VN: You were second at the collegiate cyclocross national championships in 2008, so you obviously have some skills in that arena. Is cyclocross on your radar for this fall?
AM: I actually think it is! I am trying to figure out the end of my season now. Road season pretty much ends in July here, so if I play my cards right I think I can do a little bit of ‘cross.
VN: So is making the team for 2013 ‘cross worlds in Louisville a goal?
AM: I’m not a huge ‘cross person, like Meredith. But I haven’t been on my mountain bike in a couple years, and I’m kind of anxious to be on dirt again. I think ‘cross might be about as good as it’s going to get for a while. So right now I’m just doing it for fun mostly. Kind of serious, because I’ll be doing some USGP’s, but I’m not focusing on Worlds or anything.