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Papa John Trek Racing Team USA

We wanted to do more with up and coming teams in 2018, especially in the USA, as we're a global website after all. Also being a fan of Pizza, Papa John’s Team seemed an obvious choice. Seriously though, it’s a great young team, full of colour and spirit and with a positive vibe about it. Time then to speak with team founder, Tish all about it...

Team founder Tish was a racer herself, coming from a sports background, racing cat 3 and was tops in Florida. Her husband raced masters too, so I guess it was a sports background for the kids to grow up, and yes, the kids were son racing too. Coming from an extensive tennis background, Madison’s biological father was also top ten in the world, with Tish nationally ranked. It’s a family where sport runs in the blood.

Tish’s daughter and Papa John team member, Madison was jumping horses and then off to college in Florida. She had no interest in cycling at the time, and wasn’t pushed. It’s always better to let kids find their own sporting challenges, and guide and support when required. Then in her senior year - boom! Madison said she wants to ride. So off she went with mom Tish, and they both ended up racing together State wide, and the talented Madison creamed everyone. Her performance was such that she Catted up to 1 in 6 months! 

Papa John himself, has a vacation home near to the family, and whilst he and Tish rode together regularly, Madison joined them one day, and Papa John was suitably impressed. He said that he’d like to sponsor her, and, albeit that Tish already had a bike sponsor, her business brain put the two together and started a little team. Using her tennis background, Tish ran the team like a tennis team, and it all just fitted well, as she worked tirelessly to move things on. 

This is now their third year and they’ve tripled in value and size! Sponsors are coming twice now, thanks to the dedicated hard work of Tish, and all the big high profile sponsors that she has brought to the sport. Starting out as a venture that Tish initially did for her kid, it’s ended up helping a whole lot more women and hopefully will invoke change in this ailing sport, widening access and inspiring more women to race. 

The team has developed and evolved intoa large setup, with riders of all skill sets,all merging together into a talented outfit that competes at the highest level in the USA ladies race scene. Experienced riders like Kimberley Pettit (individual World Pursuit Champion - age group), coming from a pro rider background, and Debbie Milne, with four Masters National Road Race titles to her name, provide a useful role in helping to guide the young guns, whilst the team have recently competed in their first stage race of the season, gaining more experience.

Like many in ladies cycle racing, they all have to balance careers, family life and full time study with their racing, meaning that their commitment is all the more inspiring. Tish manages to weave things together superbly, and ensures that the back room arrangements and support is always on hand; it's a totally professional set up and means that this developing team will go a long way together. The most impressive thing about them is that they're clearly already a unit, a collective of friends formed into a team, and can laugh and joke and chill out together as well as put on the race face when it matters. And, in a tough event, when your body is hurting and your mind is messing with you, that team spirit is what counts - the Papa John's ladies have it in heaps.

We’ll be following the progress of this colourful and exciting team as the season progresses. Hannah is already blogging with us, and together we’ll make sure that ladies cycling gets the attention it has long waited for, and which it thoroughly deserves. Well done Tish for creating such a dynamic team, and for being a cycling inspiration. 

Take a look at the current list of riders and click below to visit the team website and read their individual bios...

Madison Kelly

Kyrstin Bluhm

Kimberley Pettit

Elizabeth Harden

Hannah Shell

Flora Yan

Debbie Milne

Ash Weaver