What's your day job?
I’m a full-time student studying international nutrition. [how did you decide on that particular field of study?] I started in general sciences and took some nutrition courses as electives and realized how much I didn’t know about the subject and how interested I am in global health and nutrition. [where do you plan on going after graduating?] I’ve applied to some master’s programs so I’m hoping to go do my master’s next year. Either at the University of Toronto, Boston University, or Harvard, although that might be a long shot.
How long have you been racing?
I’ve been racing for, I guess this’ll be my second year now. The first year I wasn’t all that into it, but last year I got pretty addicted to it.
What disciplines? Road, and a tiny bit on the track, but not that much.
What was it that changed your mind from being sort of interested in it and then really jumping in to it? I think I just got better as a rider so it became less intimidating to jump into some pretty big races. And a lot of people around me encouraged me to do so.
How do you find balance between training, racing, and the rest of your life?
I try and make sure I’m doing at least one long ride on the weekends and during the week, I’m not sure if it’s the best method, but I try to squeeze in rides when I get the chance. So it’s not too consistent, but I just try and figure out who’s around at certain slots during the day and fit it in. [do you find it overwhelming fitting it all in? Do you work too?] I work a bit for some of my professors and I’m a TA as well, so I feel like school is a pretty huge part of my life. It times it does feel like a lot of pressure, but it’s also good having cycling to balance it out as well.
What made you want to dive into the competitive side of cycling?
I rode for about a year, maybe less than a year before trying it. I used to do a lot of sports in high school and I feel like I’m just naturally a competitive person so once I got into cycling, it just felt like it was a matter of time.
Were you nervous or hesitant about the thought of pinning on a number?
I wasn't actually nervous when I first started it because I don’t think I realized how challenging it really was. I didn’t really know that I’d be getting my butt kicked for a year. After that, it made me a little more nervous about racing, but also driven to get better at it. [so how did it make you more nervous?] Just the fact that I knew there were times when I couldn’t keep up and would get frustrated with myself. So I’d get nervous about that moment that I’d come off the back of the pack.
Do you remember your first race? Tell me what was going through your mind.
I remember my first Tuesday night crit. I was feeling pretty good about it: I thought I was in OK shape, was a decent athlete, and then got dropped after a lap or two so I was surprised for sure. Was that blow to your confidence? It was and it wasn’t something I had felt that much before in other sports I had done, so it made me realize that cycling is something you have to build up and it does take time to get better at because there’s so much complexity to the sport.
Has that feeling changed?
still get nervous before every race, but now I feel like I’m a more confident rider for sure and I’m willing to take more risks as a rider. Is it a different kind of nervous? It’s different, it’s more like “when is somebody going to attack?” and “am I going to be able to stick with them” and I also think there’s always a bit of nervousness about whether or not it’s going to be safe because you never know in a sport like this. Have you crashed? Yeah, I crashed twice last year and hopefully, I won’t repeat that too much. Knock on wood.
What are your thoughts on the current state of women's racing in the Lower Mainland?
I find that it’s very different between the pro races that happen here and in the PNW and the local racing that actually happens every week in Vancouver. The first year I started racing, I don’t think the Tuesday crits had any women, or at least there wasn’t a women’s field that was separate from the guys. That was definitely intimidating for someone first starting out. So this last year, it was amazing to see so many girls in Tuesday night races, or the Spring Series. I was pretty excited to see that change and I’m not really sure what caused it but at the same time, I still feel that there is inequality in terms of the difficulty of women getting sponsorship for their teams and that kind of thing. In regards to the pro races like the Gastown GP I was pretty impressed to see that the women were being paid equally, but it took too long for that to happen and there were so many other races where that doesn’t happen.
What can we do at the local level to help grow women's participation?
There are some really good programs that EV puts on, like their learn to race programs and I think going beyond that and encouraging those girls to jump into the races is a positive thing. Because the field is so small I feel that it’s not too dangerous for them to jump into. And then even having, maybe once a month, races that are just for women. I don’t mean to say that men shouldn’t be racing as much, but it might help people to realize what racing is like and it’s not intimidating and you’re not racing a guy who’s six feet tall. Did you do any of the women’s clinics? I didn’t actually. When I first started I had a coach and she had raced for 20+ years, so she was really good at getting me into the sport because she had so much knowledge about women’s racing.
What advice or wisdom do you want to pass on to women who are thinking about lining up for their first race?
I think that you’ve gotta just jump into it and realize that there is the possibility of you getting dropped, but that you can always jump onto the back on the next lap. Making sure that you’re aggressive enough and not getting pushed around is hard to do, but important. So say just try it and be confident in yourself.