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 2nd place finish in her first road race she attended several clinics including the Early Birds Training Series. That was in 2008, and she hasn't looked back. 2014 marks Marissa's 7th racing season. She races as a Category 1. 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 2014, 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).
Now retired from racing, Meredith remains active in the cycling community and has made helping women learn to ride and race her priority. She is the 2014 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 6 years. She is co-chair of the NCNCA Women's Committee, a group formed to help encourage women to try racing and to keep them motivated to continue improving.
Meredith has been coaching Bike Skills Clinics for individuals, cycling clubs and teams for the last 6 years. She will again this year be advising the 800 (yes, 800!!) member Feather Pedals/Valley Spokesmen cycling group in their 12 week training series for the all-women Cinderella Century on April 5 2014.
She is available to coach individuals and groups though Wenzel Coaching.
Meredith is the only woman Lifetime Member of the Berkeley Bike Club (BBC) and has been the promoter/co-promoter of the Berkeley Hills road race, and BBC Criterium events.
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 races for Twenty16 Pro Cycling. She 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 a USA Cycling certified coach. 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.
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.
KIMBERLY FONG began her athletic career as a fast pitch softball player in high school. It was not until attending UC Berkeley that she discovered the excitement and single-minded determination of endurance sports. Kim entered her first bike race as a student at UC Berkeley in 2006. She fell in love with the sport of cycling in the team-oriented and fun-loving atmosphere of the collegiate racing scene, competing in both road and mountain bike events. Since graduating from UC Berkeley, Kim has largely focused on road racing. In 2014, she will compete as a Cat. 1 for Northern California-based Threshold Sports p/b Leadout Endurance Coaching. Occasionally, she has been known to dabble in endurance and ultra-endurance mountain bike events, having won the 19-29 Marathon Mountain Bike Championships in 2012 and completed multiple 8-hour mountain bike races.
Currently, Kim is attending UC Hastings College of the Law, where she is focusing on venture capital and corporate law. She is also co-president of the school's cycling team, which she helped co-found in 2012.
2014 will be Kim's second year mentoring, and she is excited to join the team of mentors helping women discover the rewards of cycling. She is looking forward to being a part of the growth and development of NCNCA women's racing.
LAUREL GREEN started bike racing in 1994. Her athletic background includes roller speed skating, and rowing. Her mentoring and coaching career started in 1991 when she coached women’s rowing for University of Wisconsin-Madison, then assistant coached high school girls swimming for 4 years. She started coaching cycling in 2003, and is a Level 1 Certified Coach with USA Cycling. She has done national calendar road races, cyclocross racing, stage races, and track racing during her 21 years in this sport. She is a multiple time State Champion on the track. She has a keen sense of riding technique, and strategy in races. She is a Physical Education teacher by trade, and is certified in a cutting edge core and nervous system training technique called Revolution In Motion, founded by Dr. Edythe Heus. Alongside teaching, she specializes in skill building clinics for racing, tactics and strategy education, team building, and consulting for cycling. In November, 2008, Laurel was invited to help direct the Early Bird Racing Series, a Northern California criterium series designed to introduce new racers to the ins and outs of bike racing. Laurel, an inspired coach, and enthusiastic advocate for women’s bicycle racing, was excited by the prospect of coaching and developing new riders. She wanted to help find a place for these racers to go after the 5 weeks of the Early Bird Racing Series. She realized that creating a team for women racers would provide a place for these riders to continue their development. She founded the Early Bird Women’s Racing Team in the fall of 2008. She currently directs The Early Bird Women’s Racing team, and coaches several riders who race on the team.
NEW MENTORS FOR 2014
JEANETTE HAGGAS developed her passion for cycling when she was training for Ironman Madison and the AIDS LifeCycle. An endurance runner since high school, Jeanette naturally loved going on long distance bike rides. She entered her first bike race in 2012 and had a blast (even though she was dropped after the 4th lap)! In 2013, she entered a total of 61 races, basically racing every single day and time there was a race for her category. Jeanette is passionate about encouraging women in this incredible sport and enjoys sharing tips and advice that she's learned from her own experiences. As a mentor this year, she is genuinely excited to help riders develop into competitive and safe racers.
DANI SPIRES discovered cycling during a visit with her parents in Pennsylvania. Immediately upon returning to California, she bought a bike and started riding. Dani fell in love with the sport and found herself competing with others on the road. She quickly decided that racing might be fun for her. In 2011, Dani joined with Velo Girls through the Tri-Flow Race Development Program. In 2012, Dani raced with Pacific Crush and upgraded to a Cat 3, then Cat 2 in 2013. Dani primarily focuses on crits and road races, with the occasional mountain bike ride thrown in for fun.
2014 will be Dani's first year mentoring. She is very excited to help others discover the love for the sport and grow the women's cycling community.
LINDSAY WETZEL POLIN picked up her first road bike as a way to stay active and recover from running injuries, and was talked into lining up for her first bike race by some very well-meaning friends. 15 years later, she is a category 1 in road and cyclocross, with experience racing all over the US. In addition to her racing experience, she has a degree in sport psychology, and is co-owner and coach at Sprintin’ Kitten Coaching. As a mentor, she looks forward to working with the NCNCA women’s program and contributing to the growth (and safety) of our sport.