Rider Name: Whitney Schultz
Team: Colavita-Fine Cooking Women’s Pro Cycling Team
Category: Pro
Occupation: Support Rider
Age: 25
Years in the Fort: 3
Hometown: Earth. Moved around a lot. Moved here from  Austin.
Type of Racer/Strengths: Power rider!

Whitney Schultz had a very busy 2013. She signed a pro contract, raced a full season, helped lead/start the Fort Follies women’s cycling team, and was the race director for the Fort Follies Grand Prix.  She’s also a proponent for equality in the between men’s and women’s racing. Now that things are finally slowing down for Whit, YGR fired 20ish questions at her. You can read more about Whitney and her racing at: http://whitneyschultz.blogspot.com/

YGR: Lets start with the Fort Follies. What was the driving force behind the team? How did it come about?

  • : Personally, Mark, the owner of Veloforma who used to run a huge women’s travel squad and local women’s program in Portland, and a long-time personal sponsor, always pushed me a little to get one started. His wife is a big-time ex pro and Mark has always selflessly been a women’s cycling fan. When I found the interest was there and a start-up buddy, Christi, there was no reason not to.

YGR: How was the first year?

  • : The Fort Follies have 40 members right now! Riders are across the board from 20 year olds to 60 year olds, ladies who will never race and those who race at the top of their categories. We did a good job being all-inclusive. We’ve been successful developing a brand this year from thin air, giving women a group to rally behind that will encourage their competitive goals, and gathering interest near and far. Christi and I met a couple weeks ago and set some good goals for next year to do a better job nurturing new riders, developing existing riders, and having a consistent presence. We also co-hosted the City Street Crits and put on the Fort Follies Grand Prix at Stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge.

YGR: Did signing a contract change your involvement with the team?

  • : Yes! And hopefully more next year! With my contract, I was traveling out of state every weekend April through the end of July with only two weekends off…while working full time. The season tapered off after that point. It really mitigated how I could participate physically but allowed me to still help plan the Fort Follies Grand Prix. The Fort Follies have so many eager and incredibly intelligent women that I’m excited to see who comes on board as a leader next year. I’d like to focus more on rider development. I definitely overextended myself this year but was happy to do it for such a great group of women.

YGR:  What are the goals of the team?

  • : The goals are to develop women on bikes and give them the resources to be safe, confident, and independent women while riding. If they choose to race, we want to encourage and foster that as well through skills clinics, rides, etc. I think we were very good hearted this year but a little overstretched and over ambitious. This year we have solid and realistic goals that we’re very confident about that will help us continue with our goals.

YGR: How do you see the team contributing to the local and national cycling scene?

  • Locally we see ladies coming up to Follies because the kit is just so awesome. Then we see Follies rallying together at races, volunteering together at races, going on rides together, encouraging each other.  I’m amazed with how positive all the Fort Follies members are…I guess they reflect the awesome Fort Collins vibe 🙂 The Follies are a good rallying point and a good positive group to help ladies get started and develop. Hopefully in the future we can foster women going through the ranks racing if they wish with better support..

  • I’m fortunate enough to also be a part of the Women’s Cycling Association. The opportunity for the Fort Follies Grand Prix to happen along with the WCA formation really opened my eyes to a unique opportunity. We ladies, whether we want to admit it or not, thrive on being social and emotional. Bringing together a wide range of (largely) racing women for the love of bikes at the Fort Follies Grand Prix was a special opportunity for us all to connect emotionally and realize that we can come together for common goals and achieve them. It allowed some of our Follies who had never seen a women’s race before experience that and perhaps increase their own goals on the bike. It also allowed pro riders a special opportunity to support a race that supported them, make a very positive statement about women not being included in the USPC and show a need for women’s races, and connect directly with a community. I will tear up thinking about Ride with the Stars.

YGR: What’s new for 2014?

  • : We’ll see! The Fort Follies are seeking to have a consistent once a month true beginner ride for women. No obligations. No fees. Just come out and ride with some other ladies even  if you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a kid. Intimidation is a big thing for a lot of women and we want to have this consistent ride to try to reduce that intimidation and capture those women. We’ll also do a better job with the Fort Follies Sunday Ride, a more intermediate ride geared for the ladies.

YGR: 2013 was your first year as a pro and first year with Colavita/Fine Cooking.   How did you get hooked up with them? How did the first year play out?

  • : After a winter of trainer rides and that epic late April snow, I literally dug myself out of my house, hopped on a plane to Atlanta and rode like a bat out of hell at Speedweek. My best race was at Tybee Island where I snagged a couple of primes, saw a lull, attacked with Laura Brown (Colavita-Fine Cooking) and Erin Silliman (Fearless Femme) on my wheel. I felt great and snagged the rest of the primes but lost the sprint for 3rd. It was my first big podium. Colavita-Fine Cooking had an opening for the style of rider I am and the rest is history.

  • Funny story: I attacked a lot during Speekweek to try to snag primes (hey, flights are pricey!) and somehow was in competition for “most laps led” which is also considered a bone-head award…but hey it was an extra $1000/$500/$300 for top three. The last day, I was a couple laps short so I was trying to lead a few laps to get the extra cash but my now teammate Lindsay was supposed to keep that from me. I remember attacking and her yelling “are you effing kidding me?” Iona, the director was yelling at her to chase me down while my friend Pete was yelling at me to go…they were standing next to each other. Hilariously, we ended up being the dynamic crit duo workers for our sprinters in the NCC.

YGR: What are the biggest differences between riding as a privateer vs a domestic on a pro team?

  • : When you are alone, you aren’t really obligated to work in a race and can calculate your efforts…you’ll win some and you’ll lose most. Especially as a power rider versus a sprinter, it gets frustrating. As a domestic, while I do a lot of the dirty work I know that my efforts will always end in a team result. I am a total sucker for teamwork so I totally dig it.

YGR: What did your cycling kit/gear allocation look like? (bike(s), wheels, helmets, sunglasses, kit, food, casual clothing etc…

  • : Colavita is really really fortunate first off to have an amazing budget that lets us all race a lot. We’re really fortunate to have both a training and racing bike with Di2 Ultegra and then we get all the standard stuff- helmet, sunglasses, etc. A lot of our sponsors are changing so I’m not quite sure what we’re looking at. We do get a nice shipment from Colavita Olive Oil and we’ll be getting subscriptions to Fine Cooking Magazine (hey, I’m a foodie!) which I am so pumped about. We finished off the season with a dinner with Colavita, Fine Cooking, and Al Fresco sausage execs for a 4-course meal in Cambridge, MA. It was heaven.

YGR: By all accounts, the Fort Follies Grand Prix was a huge success. You put together Colorado’s only women’s only pro race in about 4 weeks.  How did that come about?

  • : I believe I pestered Chris Johnson about it the moment I heard Fort Collins was bidding. That rad dude built in the men’s finish to easily accommodate the women’s race. After some sponsorship/fundraising troubles to start with the rules we had to comply with, we found great success once FC Bikes came on board and our funding was guaranteed by the LOC. Everything fell into place so fast because of so much amazing help from so many people who believed and wanted to see the ladies race. It also helped that at the WCA meeting at Cascade, I was able to talk to the women there about coming out for it and they showed in huge numbers. It was a ton of work and we had a crew of around 7 key people who really helped make it happen. Poor Zack (who helped a TON), had to put up with my insanity for 2 months.

YGR: Gonna do it again next year even if the USAPC doesn’t come to town?

  • : We’ll see. Cost is such a limiting factor. We put on the FFGP for just over $5k in costs before any prize purses. It also depends on what time allows for. I’d like to see it happen again and I know a lot of companies and folks involved want to see it happen again.

YGR: How will the race differ? Any specific changes if its not associated with the USAPC?

  • : There are a lot of options on how to develop the race whether we just add more categories or turn it into a stage race. I’m just now getting recovered enough to even think about it. The sky is the limit.

YGR: What do race promoters need to do to attract more women racers?

  • : Stop treating them like they are second class. I understand that the women’s fields are smaller on average but if you were told you weren’t valued, then why would you show up? Look at Pro Crit Nats- 2013 was the first year it was offered to the pro ladies (and with equal prize purse!) and more women showed up than men. If you don’t want to treat women fairly (note: not necessarily equal prize purse), then don’t expect them to show up. For those who do a great job treating women well, thank you, we’ll come.

YGR: Is there anything women cyclists can do differently to get race promoters to invest more in them?

  • : It’s women’s jobs to vote with their wallet and attendance and race events that care about them. It’s also important for women to be supportive and encouraging to other women, especially newbies…our sport is too small to be elitist!

YGR: Tell us about the ‘test’ you use to decide if you’re going to attend a race.  Have you heard of other female racers having similar tests?

  • : Although we don’t race for money (c’mon is it really going to pay the rent dependably?), prize purse lists is an easy way to compare your value.  My “rule” for local racing is that the pro women’s field must receive at least 50% of the pro men’s field and no other category (i.e. Cat 3) can be paid out more than the pro women’s field. I really really understand the field size argument but think about the chicken or the egg argument. Women on average still make less than men, still have the same costs to get into the sport, on average aren’t welcomed…we don’t do a good job helping women help themselves and won’t help grow the sport. It’s more about respect. Respect the value and competitiveness of the top levels of the sport, dudes or gals. Cyclocross does a great job at this! I’ve heard of other women with similar rules but I hope more will adopt similar…let’s make great, competitive fields at races that support us!

YGR: How do you put up with Zack?

  • : Ha, oh Zack! While Zack is extroverted, spontaneous, full of energy and emotion, a little messy…alive in the moment kind of guy, we compliment each other so well! I tend to be more introverted, calculated, organized, and my brain is always restless and churning! He’s definitely taught me to be more spontaneous and also enjoy living in the moment- I can almost watch a movie without multitasking with 3-5 other things. Luckily we have a lot of common interests and passions and love supporting each other’s goals, cycling included! This year our travel schedules were so terribly mismatched, we didn’t see each other on a weekend for 5 months, plus lots of weeks between. It sucked but really made us appreciative of each other.

YGR: Word on the streets is that you’re a pretty good baker.  What’s the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?  I have a theory but I want to hear from an expert.

  • Frosting and fluffiness. I like my muffins denser and at least a smidge more healthy. Cupcakes are a time to play and a good excuse to celebrate anything (and eat frosting). I make a mean Irish Car Bomb Cupcake. (Editors note: My theory was frosting and time of day eaten.)

YGR:My research (Facebook stalking) also indicates you like to garden.  How does that work with you being on the road all the time?  Who do you have gardensit while you’re away?  I’m sure you don’t trust Zack with that.  Favorite plant?

  • : I’m the laziest gardener ever. After this spring, I’ve accepted I will not and cannot start plants from seeds indoors. The week before Speedweek, I take a day to sow all our garden boxes. Zack (mostly) and I put in an extensive drip system with a timer this year so watering isn’t a worry. I’ll just week and compost tea when I’m in town. It’s a lot of fun picking out new organic, heirloom, non-GMO plants to grow!

YGR: Cross, yay or neigh?

  • : It looks fun! I always feel so burnt out by fall and really crave unstructured time off the bike to play. Maybe someday if I get a wild hair…and a bike.

YGR: What workout do you use when you realize you need to get fit fast?

  • : I love the gym and running. Gym helps you regain the lost strength (especially core!) and running helps you stay lean while lifting. I started with Source Endurance last fall and really feel all the threshold work and vo2 we did with varying cadence really helped me kick off the season with a pow.

YGR: Now that many of our mountain roads are off limits or at least not recommended for riding, how will training for 2014 differ?

  • :With a full time 8-5pm job, I end up on the trainer Monday to Friday anyways, so my weekend routes don’t ever really “get old”.