Women's Mentor Biographies
2013 NCNCA WOMEN MENTORS
MARISSA AXELL discovered her competitive fire and athletic spirit in the swimming pool. Once she completed a successful collegiate swimming career she turned to Northern California triathlons to keep her competitive spirit alive. After conquering two Ironman triathlons and countless other triathlon and long-distance swim events, Marissa turned her attention to road racing. With a 2ndplace finish in her first road race she attended several clinics including the Early Birds Crit Training Series. That was in 2008, and she hasn't looked back. 2013 marks Marissa's 6thracing season. She races as a Category 1 for Team Fremont Bank Women's Cycling Team. In addition to her own racing and training, she's passionate about coaching others and especially enjoys encouraging new riders in the sport. Marissa is a certified Body Geometry Bike Fit Specialist; USA Cycling Level III Coach; teaches invigorating and thoughtful indoor cycling classes, outdoor bootcamps, and TRX suspension training as a certified personal trainer; and she holds a BA in Biology from Willamette University (go Bearcats).
CAROLA BERGER got hooked on bike racing when a friend dragged her out to a certain Bay Area hillclimb on a fateful foggy January morning in 2005. She promptly dropped her chain at the start and subsequently attended the Early Birds series in order to learn how not to drop the chain at the start of a bike race. She has been racing ever since and is currently a Cat 2 on the road. Recently, her racing has taken a back-seat to other cycling endeavors. Besides perfecting her technique to pop dropped chains back on while riding, Carola is a Level 2 Power Based Training Certified Coach. With a racing and endurance background that encludes not only NRC races, but also quite a few double centuries, she coaches endurance-oriented athletes as well as those who want to bring their racing to the next level. Furthermore, she is one of the organizers of the Beat the Clock and Help Beat Cancer time trials, a training series for everyone from beginners over Paralympians and Olympians to handcyclists and HPV world-record holders. Carola is excited to be able to contribute to the NCNCA mentoring program again in 2013 after a successful 2012, since all of her mentees survived the experience despite extreme perils such as dropped chains, evil tomato trucks, and splattering gel.
LAURA CHARAMEDA’S racing results include multiple stage wins at the women's Tour de France, a medal at the World Road Racing Championships, a spot on the Olympic team, and two Criterium National Criterium titles. The number of Laura's career cycling victories are well over 250. Laura's current career foci are athletic program development, coaching and directing both junior and women cyclists, leading clinics for beginning cyclists and in 2012 she will be the Competition
Director for the inaugural 2.1 UCI Women’s 2012 Exergy Tour. After retiring from professional athletics her passion has shifted her own athletic performance to helping others learn the joys of cycling at every level of the sport. Laura is currently the executive director of Team Swift which is a nonprofit organization based in Sonoma County California. Team Swift brings resources and guidance to 10-18 year old cyclists, starting with their first cycling experiences and continuing through the USA National Team level. She was also the director of the Amgen Women's Tour of California in 2007 & 2008. Laura's greatest satisfaction comes from helping athletes achieve personally defining breakthrough experiences in athletics.
MEREDITH NIELSEN is a Wenzel and USAC Level 2 Cycling Coach who has been riding and racing since 1998. She was a founder of the Left Coast Racing Team, a women’s team that was the Best All-Round master women’s team in the Northern California/Nevada Racing Association (NCNCA). A Category 3 criterium and stage race specialist, she raced in more than 120 races all over California.
Now retired from racing, Meredith remains active in the cycling community. She is the 2013 coordinator of the Northern California/Nevada Racing Association (NCNCA) Women’s Mentoring Program for beginning women racers, and has been active as a mentor in the Early Bird Racing Series for the last 5 years.
Meredithhas been coaching Bike Skills Clinics for individuals and cycling clubs and teams for the last 5 years. This year she will also be advising the 800 member Feather Pedals cycling group in their 12 week training series for the all-women Cinderella Century on April 4, 2013.
She is available to coach individuals and groups though Wenzel Coaching.
Meredithis the only woman Lifetime Member of the Berkeley Bike Club (BBC) and has been the promoter/co-promoter of the Berkeley Hills road race, BBC Team Time Trial, and BBC Criterium events.
HOLLY ROBERTS has been mentoring new racers since 2005, and is currently in her 9th year of bike racing. "I had such a great experience my first year being mentored in the Early Birds, that I just wanted to continue to give back - in any way possible." Holly is currently a 2 on the road, a 3 on the dirt, and a 4 on the track. (It would be nice to have all of them the same number - some day!) Proudest moment: a podium (3rd) at Sea Otter in the MTB Cross Country Race, after falling a zillion times! 2nd proudest moment: NOT falling while demonstrating wheel touching at the Early Birds in 2008 and 2009! When not riding the bike, she's busy with a nutty job in high tech, and an awesome dog that loves going to bike races, AND the vet (seriously)!
NEW MENTORS FOR 2013
ANDREA ATKINS says her love of cycling began at a young age when she got her first multi-speed bike complete with coaster brake, banana seat, and handlebar basket with plastic daisies on the front. She later upgraded to a Schwinn ten-speed (actuallyten!) which became her transportation to and from school. An avid bicycle commuter while attending UC Davis, Andrea completed her first Davis Double Century in 1992 and became hooked on endurance events, finishing countless centuries and 15 doubles over the next 10 years. She made the transition to road racing in 2001, and discovered that she loved the “game of chess on a bike” tactics in criteriums. She holds two NCNCA District Championships: 2004 Master Women’s Crit, and 2006 Master Women’s Time Trial. She competed at the USAC Masters National Championships in 2007 and 2011. Now a Cat 2 on the road, Andrea wants to share her love of cycling with other women, and inspire them to discover their passion for the sport. As a mentor, she hopes to help women develop skills and self-confidence so that they can enjoy the spirit of competition and an active, healthy lifestyle.
MARYANN LEVENSON started racing bikes in 2005 after a running injury prevented her from competing in Triathlons. She has never looked back!!
In December 2006 she was run over by a drunk driver while training. By the end of March she was back on her bike training, racing and teaching bicycle safety to school aged kids. She is a licensed safety cycling instructor with the American league of bicyclist and a Level 3 cycling coach.
MA loves to race both on the road and track and holds the 50-55+ 40K TT National Record and the 45 + 3K Team Pursuit National Record on the Track.
She races with B4T9, (Before Title 9); Women’s Masters racing team. Professionally she is a Sports Dietitian.
She is thrilled to be part of NCNCA Mentoring program because she believes the safer we are on our bikes the more fun we will have!!
MARY MAROON learned about bike racing from her bike messenger co-workers. They encouraged to try racing with them and in 2004 she competed in and won her first race, the Davis 4th of July Criterium. She still wasn't sure it was something she wanted to focus on and didn't race again until 2006. She upgraded from Cat 4 to Cat 2 in one season and decided to try track racing. Mary fell in love with track racing and didn't touch her road bike for almost 2 years. With the support of Velo Bella she would earn countless wins on the Velodrome. In 2009 she re-signed with Vanderkitten and would pick up road racing again.
Mary has traveled as far as Australia to compete as a professional cyclist but she loves her district. She holds 7 NCNCA Championships in Track and Road. She is a certified Spin instructor and holds a USAC coaching license. She has mentored with the Early Bird training criteriums since 2009. Mary was a mentor and assistant coach with the Hellyer Velodrome Tuesday Junior Program for 2 years. Mary works as a consultant to develop women's team racing throughout the district. She is well educated in bicycle fitting and bike mechanics and has worked as team mechanic for various pro teams. Mary gets inspired by and enjoys watching people grow with cycling. Coaching and mentoring provide a front row seat to amazing success stories.