By Ashlyn Woods

October 10, 2013—Winston-Salem, North Carolina—Change. It’s one of the most challenging and frequent obstacles life can throw at us. A few weeks ago, my family and I relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While it was difficult, as a teenager, to change schools and make new friends, the cycling community here has welcomed me with open arms. The city has attracted women who are at the top of their sport, all of whom make for great role models for me as a junior female cyclist. Here, I’ve already had the opportunity to learn from them and observe for myself their dedication and passion for cycling.

Winston-Salem is primed for growth in cycling; it is easily accessible to beautiful, rural roads with rolling terrain, and benefits from the support of a large cycling community. Last year, the city organized the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, a criterium that ran through the streets of downtown. The race featured a technical course and excellent turnout of both racers and spectators. In the years to come, the event could easily attract racers from all over the country .

For the past three years, cycling has not only been my sport, but has served as an outlet for me to escape from life’s everyday stresses. Cycling requires dedication and hard work, and in return yields great rewards. I’ve met wonderful people, visited amazing places, and developed into a better person along the way. By participating in a sport as mentally tough as this one, you learn things about yourself that you would have otherwise never known. On the road, it’s just you and the bike; and you are the only one who can push yourself to the limit.

As a junior cyclist, I have begun to realize that the future of cycling will be passed down from generation to generation. Junior cycling has grown substantially in recent years. More and more races have been holding separate events for junior racers. Some high schools have even created cycling programs to involve more kids in the sport. On one of my first rides in Forsyth County, I saw many cyclists who had begun their careers as juniors. Across the country, junior cyclists have found a love for racing and plan to continue through the rest for their lives. Through their passion for cycling, these riders hold the future of cycling in their hands.

Ashlyn Woods Name: Ashlyn Woods
Racing age in 2014: 17
Residence: Winston-Salem, NC
Bio: Throughout elementary and middle school, Ashlyn participated in competitive swimming and soccer but never developed a passion for either sport. After watching the 2010 Tour de France with her dad, she was persuaded by her father to try out her mother’s old road bike. Two months later, at the age of 13, she competed in her first race. Although she was regulated to the back for failing to use junior gearing (who knew!), she was hooked from that moment on. Now a junior in high school, she looks forward to racing for the women’s Carolina Cycling Team in 2014.