SV cyclist races toward 2012 Olympics
by Michelle Camerlingo / Press-Banner
Apr 08, 2010 | 7517 views | 0 0 comments | 627 627 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shelly Olds Evans of Scotts Valley competes in the Merco Criterion race in March. She began racing just five years ago and went pro two years later. Evans, who rides in national and international races, hopes to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  Courtesy photo.
Shelly Olds Evans of Scotts Valley competes in the Merco Criterion race in March. She began racing just five years ago and went pro two years later. Evans, who rides in national and international races, hopes to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Courtesy photo.
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Professional cyclist Shelley Olds Evans got her start on a road bike just five years ago, and already the 29-year-old looks like a clincher to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The Scotts Valley cycling star was introduced to the sport when her husband got her on the back of mountain bike tandem in 2005. She went pro within two years and has made a name for herself as one of the highest-ranked track cyclists in the world, according to the Web site WholeAthlete.com.

Evans said she’s actually younger than most of her competitors.

“Most female cyclists don’t peak until their late 30s,” she said. “Men usually start earlier but can burn out sooner.”

But Evans said being a woman in the male-dominated world of cycling is far from sugar and spice.

“It’s frustrating, because there is such a disparity between the way women get supported and paid. There’s nowhere near as much money (for women).”

Evans shifted her specialty from speed gained on the track to road racing so she could fight for a spot on the Olympic team. She joined U.S. national women’s road cycling team last summer.

Evans also rides with the American professional road-racing team Peanut Butter and Co. 2012, run by 2008 Olympics time-trial gold medalist Kristin Armstrong.

“The team is designed to support riders that will represent the U.S. in the Olympics,” Evans said. “It’s a unique team, because it gives flexibility to race nationally and abroad.”

Recent accolades include a win in the Tour of New Zealand women’s cycling race in February and second place at Merco Cycling Classic in Merced in March.

Evans just got home from UCI World Championship in Copenhagen, where she made headlines after a tumble caused her bike to snap in two. She said she walked away unscathed — but for the loss of a couple of teeth.

And while the brutal-seeming fall was featured in a two-page spread in the April 5 issue of Sports Illustrated, Evans said it could’ve been worse.

“I didn’t break anything, and there wasn’t any blood,” she said. “I could’ve hit my head or gotten more seriously injured, so I was pretty lucky in that respect.”

Two days after the crash, Evans placed 11th in the points race — with her teeth temporarily glued and taped back in place.

Evans said being a pro cyclist means always facing possible injury, hours of daily training and constant traveling. She also said she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Before she realized her calling was on a bike, the Massachusetts native had a desk job at a cell phone company.

“I was miserable,” Evans recalled. “Work should be rewarding. I am so glad every day that I got into this. I get to be outside, I get to travel.”

Travel she does. She leaves for Europe next week and is rarely home more than a week between races around the globe. But when she is home, she can be spotted around town on her Fuji road bike.

“I love this area,” she said of the valley. “There are so many great places to ride.”

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