by Vicky Sama
What does it feel like to be at the top of a nationals podium? Ask Ellen Noble (JAM Fund Cycling), who was crowned the U23 National Cyclocross Champion in Austin, Tx.
She was the first U23 rider, yes, but the even more impressive story is how she finished 6th among 46 women in the pro field-- less than two minutes behind winner Katie Compton (Trek).
At 19-years old, Noble's future is looking very bright. She joined the JAM Fund Cycling Team in 2014. In her first major race in her JAM kit, she finished 2nd on both days at Nittany Lion Cross-- out of 50 elite racers.
Noble is not new to cycling. She started riding a bike when she was 5 years old living in Kennebunkport, Maine. Her parents were elite cyclists and took her to races even before she was born.
“My mom would ride while she was pregnant with me. It’s really good for the baby, releasing endorphins and oxygen,” Noble said. “And even when I was really young, they couldn’t leave me at home, so they brought me to races.”
Noble’s dad was instrumental in her early, unusual training techniques. “I was nervous to ride without training wheels, so I made him attach a surf leash from my bike to his ankle, and that somehow made me more comfortable,” she said.
By the time she was 7, Noble was entering races with the big girls.
“Back then, the kids races were a circle in a grass field. I’d outgrown that,” Noble said. “I was serious about mountain biking. When I was 7, I entered an adult Cat 3 beginner mountain bike race. It was the Clifford Park Assault in Biddeford, Maine. My dad rode with me the entire time. It went well until the last hill and I endoed, but I rolled across the finish line. I very well could have beat somebody. I have no idea.”
Despite some falls, Noble always got back on the bike.
“In other sports like snowboarding, I got injured and chipped all my teeth, so I didn’t want to do it anymore. Cycling, whatever happens my response is ‘yea, I’ll do it again tomorrow,’” she said.
She slowly moved her way up the ranks in mountain biking and took a season off to race mass start dirt bike events called “hair scrambles.”
“Why do they call it that? Maybe because it’s so stressful and terrifying and makes your hair stand up? After getting back to mountain biking, I appreciated how light my bike was," she said. "When I fell over on a dirt bike, I couldn’t get back up because the bike was so heavy.”
Noble says dirt biking helped her technical skills when she returned to mountain biking still as a young teen.
“That experience on the trails furthered my knack for technical riding. I consider that my strongest point as a cyclist.”
By the time she was 15, Noble was racing mountain bikes in the elite women’s field, winning the overall in the New England MTB series. It was at that time she discovered cyclocross and starting working with Al Donahue of Cycle-Smart coaching and JAM Cycling Team.
“He was like well, if you want, you’d be a great fit for JAM,” she said.
Noble started training with JAM in August 2014, as she was entering her freshman year at UMass/Amherst. Noble says she noticed instant improvement.
“I don’t make any secret in that all my success last year is because of JAM, and it wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” Noble said. “Living near my coach, having a mentor like Jeremy Powers who is so helpful, my teammates who are willing to share, all those things came together and helped me grow leaps and bounds as a racer.”
In the year since she joined JAM, Noble has garnered 13 UCI podiums, 4 UCI wins, a 6th at nationals in the elite race and the U23 championship title.Read the rest of the story on the Jam Fund Cycling site »