Ex-Rider Interview: The 80’s were a great time to be in cycle sport. There were all the ‘Big Guns’ in Europe, but also the US scene was packed with riders and top races all over the country. There were many women’s teams and the name Carol Addy appeared regularly – Ed Hood caught up to talk old times and kettlebells.
Here at PEZ we have a soft spot for the 80’s – fluo team jerseys excepted, of course – so we thought you might like to hear from this lady who ‘has the T-shirt’ for 80’s ladies’ bike racing in the USA.
Over to you, Carol Addy:
PEZ: How did you get into cycling, Carol?
Carol Addy: I took a cycling class during college, and I fell in love with my bike. At the time I was living in central Ohio, and I remember exploring all of the farm roads in the area and doing a local bike tour. In the spring of 1981, I learned of a bike race that was taking place on the campus of Ohio State University. I remember standing in the pouring rain watching the races and thinking that it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was hooked and knew that it was something that I had to do. I started racing the following year.
PEZ: You rode for the Fuji, Raleigh and Weight Watchers teams, what were the years for each team – and why move?
Boy, that’s a long time ago so dates might not be completely accurate. I began with my local club in Columbus, Franklin Bicycle Club Incorporated (F.B.C.I) in 1982, and the following year I joined National Capitol Velo Club, which was based in the D.C. area. Although I was still living in Columbus, it was great to ride with a team since there was only one other woman who road for F.B.C.I. In 1984, I was asked to join Fuji-Suntour, which was managed by Tracy Lea. That was an amazing experience, and I was honored to ride with the ‘Fujettes,’ including Bonnie Zalewski, Patti Cashman Moore, Karen Bliss, Liz Larsen, Jeanne Golay, Elin Larsen. We were a force to be contended with. My favorite memory is of our wins at the Schiff Tour of Champions in Connecticut in 1984. I transitioned to Raleigh/Weight Watchers in 1986 or 1987, which permitted me to do some promotional work for Raleigh. In addition, I was a spokesperson for the Wheat Thins series, which was a blast.
PEZ: How did that first contract come about?
My first formal support was when I was riding for Fuji. I don’t recall a contract, per se – but again, that was a long time ago. I do recall getting a monthly stipend, some travel support and all equipment/clothing, which was a big, big deal back then, but I’m sure that it pales in comparison to what the teams are getting today. I remember the first race I competed in, which was back in 1982 in Cleveland. I took third place behind Sue Novara-Reber and Karen Strong Hearth and brought home $125. I thought that I had hit the jackpot! Honestly, when I reflect back to my cycling years, I am really amazed that I was able to support myself and that I never had to borrow money from my parents.
PEZ: What level of support did each team give you?
As I said above, a monthly stipend, some travel expenses and all equipment (Fuji and Raleigh). I did not have any support when riding for F.B.C.I. and NCVC. I was just happy with having a team jersey! The initial years were definitely ‘low budget’, but I have to say that those times bring the sweetest memories; being hosted by a dairy farmer and his wife and having fresh milk for breakfast every morning (Lowenbrau series in Wisconsin); packing five or six people into a motel room; driving overnight from Florida to Texas with Jeanne (Golay) for the Tour of Texas; renting a Budget cargo van to serve as our ‘team’ van during the Schiff Tour of Champions – there were two seats in the van, and the rest of the team rattled around on the floor of the van in the back with the bikes bungee corded to the side of the van. It’s a wonder we weren’t all killed.
PEZ: Did you feel that ladies’ cycling was being taken seriously in that era?
Women’s cycling was really in its infancy in the 80s, and I was along for the ride, traveling, making friends. I had the good fortune to qualify to compete in the 1984 Olympic trials, which was an amazing experience, even though I had no real hope of making the team. In hindsight, women’s cycling was well behind where men’s cycling was, but for some reason it did not bother me at the time. I guess it was because I was having great adventures and putting off becoming an adult.
PEZ: Tell us about your training – did you have a coach?
I don’t recall my training specifically, and I did not have a coach. I do recall doing some motor paced sessions every now and then, which was always good for an adrenaline rush. I loved doing telephone pole sprints back in Ohio but it was so flat there, I never developed a liking for climbing until many years later when I moved to New England and was no longer competing. Looking back, I think I raced mostly on natural ability as there was no real structure to my training. I could/should have been a lot more focused, but I was too busy having fun!
PEZ: You were on the US National squad, which races did you ride?
I was always keen on doing crits since I was from the flatlands in central Ohio. I was also a lot bigger then, which did not bode well for climbing. I was on the National Development ‘B’ team but never raced for the team since I was always on the crit circuit. The Wheat Thins series was my absolute favorite in 1985 and 1986.
PEZ: Tell us about those FUJI ‘pin up’ pictures?
Yeah, I would say that I am best known for those pictures rather than my racing ability.
Not sure what to say other than it was a lot of fun. I didn’t realize that I was somewhat of a celebrity at the time and only came to realize that years later. There was one Fuji shoot where some of the folks from Fuji Japan were there. I remember standing by a mountain bike and asking one of the guys from Japan if I could pose with his cowboy boots. That was pretty funny because up until that time they were pretty serious.
PEZ: Which of your results gives you most satisfaction?
I would say my win in one of the Wheat Thins races in New York City. There was an enormous crowd, it was a short, tight course, the race was fast and it was a picture perfect day. It was thrilling to be up on the podium.
PEZ: Why did you go away from the bike?
In 1989, I was in Texas for the Tour of Texas. In advance of the start of the races I was doing some promo work for Weight Watchers. Long story short, I was injured during a video shoot and had a severe injury to my foot, which required a few surgeries and me spending most of the year in a rocker bottom cast. I ended up putting a bike cleat on the bottom of the cast (a trick I learned of from Meg Gordon) so that I could continue to ride. It was a tough time, both physically and mentally, because I was getting close to turning 30 and I was beginning to feel the ‘tug’ of needing to get on with my life and to do something more meaningful. During this time, I did a lot of recreational riding. It was nice to ‘stop and smell the roses’, so to speak.
My friend Mary and I rode our bikes from Boston up to the Quebec border and stayed at hostels along the way. I still have very fond memories of that trip. When we returned, we heard about this really cool benefit bike ride (Pan Mass Challenge), which went from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA, so we decided to do it. I was an ‘attraction’ on the ride since I was still riding with my cast at that time. Long story short again, I met my husband on that ride. I still remember it like it was yesterday! After the PMC and following another surgery on my foot I was considering going back to school to become a physical therapist, but my husband didn’t think that I would be challenged enough doing PT, and he encouraged me to consider medical school and I did!
PEZ: Was that decision you regret now?
Absolutely not! I was ready for the change, I was living in Central Massachusetts at the time, and we used to watch the Longsjo race every year. I remember seeing my former teammate Jeanne (Golay) race, along with Rebecca Twigg, I was happy to be spectating and had no desire to be out there anymore.
PEZ: What made you want to be an Endocrinologist – and what is that, exactly?
Medical school was a great experience, and all of my medical training was with the notion of lifestyle as medicine. With that in mind, I became fascinated with body weight regulation and metabolism, which led me to doing Internal Medicine residency followed by a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism. Endocrinology is the field of medicine that involves hormones and the glands that secret them. During fellowship, I got involved in doing clinical research, which led to my career in the pharmaceutical industry. I am currently working as CMO for a French biotech company, and we are working on the development of novel drugs to treat rare liver diseases. It can be crazy and stressful at times, but it is very rewarding considering the unmet needs for many of these diseases. My company is based in the town right next to Roubaix, and I am keeping fingers crossed that the pandemic will improve to permit my travel over there in April to see Paris Roubaix and some of the other spring classics – and of course to do some work.
PEZ: Tell us about the ‘kettlebell competitions’ you take part in these days?
During medical school, I transitioned to distance running because it was more time efficient compared to cycling. I ended up doing some marathons, including Boston a couple of times. Over time, I was finding that I was injured more often than not and joked that I was an ‘-itis’ looking for a place to happen. The silver lining is that I started working with a personal trainer, who introduced me to kettlebells. I fell in love with them. The workouts provided strength, flexibility, intensity, flexibility and they were time efficient.
I got ‘StrongFirst’ certified and was doing some of my own programming, when I discovered that there was kettlebell sport competitions. This is a sport that originated in Eastern Europe and that is beginning to develop a following in the U.S. The lifts are patterned after the Olympic lifts (jerk, snatch), but instead of maximal weight the KB events are lifting a sub-maximal weight as many times as possible in 10 minutes. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done but I have been seriously addicted since my first competition – at the age of 56. It is my ‘moment of Zen’ to start my day and is my form of meditation. I cannot be thinking about work and other stuff when I have significant weight over my head. I continue to train but have not competed in a while due to the pandemic, but hoping that 2022 will hold some promise for the safe return to live competitions. It’s a great community and lot of fun to be part of a growing sport, which, in some ways, is similar to how I felt when I got into cycling.
PEZ: Would you like to be racing now?
Oh, God no! It’s a different sport than when I was racing. I am happy to spectate and to connect with former teammates and bike racing dinosaurs every now and then. . .
# As always, thanks to all the unknown photographers. #