What's your day job?
Software quality assurance and testing. I work for a company that makes custom websites.
How long have you been racing?
I think I bought my first road bike in 2003. Have you always been a roadie?. No. So my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, his sister did triathlon and I decided that that would be a good way of getting into shape, so I decided to get a bike then. I mean, I had bikes as a child because my mom never drove, but never a serious road bike before. So I did some triathlons in 2003 and I was living in Delta, BC, so I hooked up with Team Coastal because I went to the bike shop there. They put on the Thursday night races. So, before I had a license, they said “come join us and come out to the Thursday nighters. So I think I did that in 2004, possibly in 2005.
I race road and I race track. I’ve done some MTB races, but I’m a very amateur MTB’er and I just do that for fun. [of those, which is your favourite?]. Oh man, that’s really hard to say. When I do road cycling for a long time, by the end of the year, I’m really itching for track cycling because it’s exciting and I like the tactics, but now that it’s February, I really want to get out on the road. I don’t know which one I enjoy more, but I’m probably better at track cycling. I like fact that I can get three races in a night on the track and each one changes, so if I do crappy in one race, I have another race I can re-focus on. With road racing, that’s hard because if you get dropped, you’re done. But I like seeing the scenery and exploring the places my road bike can take me.W
What made you want to dive into the competitive side of cycling?
Well, it really was the Thursday nighters because they weren’t that competitive. I didn’t even have a license then. They kept telling me “come out, it’s Thursday night! You can watch,” and then they said “well, you’re already here, you might as well ride around the course and see what it’s like.” It was also a bit [of influence] from my husband; he bought a road bike to train for a triathlon with me. He didn’t intend on doing the tri - just to train with me - but he really got into racing first actually. I did the Thursday crits for a few years without getting a license and then watched him do the EV Spring Series one year and then thought to myself “why am I just watching? I should be out here!”
Do you prioritize riding, or do you just cram it in wherever it fits?
Well, I pretty much just have a set schedule every week. Sometimes, I feel like a bit of a loser because people will ask me what I did on the weekend and my answer is always “I rode my bike.” I think for me, having a schedule and sticking to it is how I prioritize riding. It’s also great that I have a steady job that’s 9-5 and is also a bit flexible. The owner of the company also rides so he understands.
How do you find balance between training, racing, and the rest of your life?
In some ways, it’s great because I don’t have kids and my husband also races so we’re both out riding all weekend and that’s fine, but I’m also really tired. Monday I take off, Tuesday and Thursdays during the winter I cross train by swimming and then Wednesday and Friday nights I’m getting home from the track at 10pm. And on Fridays you want to have a beer and do all that fun stuff so I’m not getting to bed until midnight and then I wake up Saturday mornings and go on a five hour ride. Sunday too, so when do I even find the time to sleep? I find it difficult and I’m definitely not rested and I know rest is important.
Were you nervous or hesitant about the thought of pinning on a number?
No. I think because it was so low-key, I was less nervous for those races. I think it’s even better now because there are coaches on the Tuesday night crits and there was none of that when I started, so I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, I had my husband and the group from Coastal, so they could help you out beforehand so you would know what to expect. And with the women, they were all Cat. 4 racers, so everybody was learning as we went along and it wasn’t nerve-wracking. Of course, there were always pre-race nerves, but other than that, it wasn’t bad at all.
Do you remember your first race? Tell me what was going through your mind.
I remember the first season, but not the first race. I remember that because I was a member of Coastal and because we ran the race, we went out to the course as a group and pre-rode it. So when I showed up at one of the first races, it was nerve-wracking just to see all of the people. I hadn’t actually met women from other clubs yet. We had a few, but I was probably a bit nervous thinking “who are these girls? Are they going to be too fast? Am I going to be able to ride with them?” I think also, talking to other ladies, you always think “am I going to be OK and safe and not mess up any other girls?” Showing up and not knowing who’s who is also a bit nerve wracking. When you’re on the start line, you’re thinking all of these things, but once the race starts, you can just focus. You just do it and whatever happens, happens.
Have any of those feelings changed?
It depends on what level you get to. Last year I raced track in Japan and I was extremely nervous because all these ladies were racing on the world cup and it was really hard. Again, you’re new and you don’t know who’s who and what’s going on or how fast you’re going to be or if you’re even going to finish. But with the local races, you kind of know where you fit in and it’s pretty low key and there’s nothing on the line.
What are your thoughts on the current state of women's racing in the Lower Mainland?
I feel like I’ve been in cycling, or at least observed it for a long enough time, to see that there are always peaks and valleys, even with men’s participation, so it’s a bit cyclical in that way. Some years I’ve raced and there’ve been lots of girls, but in general, there haven’t been that many women and I find that really sad because cycling is a great sport. I think people just afraid; it’s the nature of cycling but it sucks to spend money on a race and then get dropped or even not get to finish the race sometimes. But if people show up, the experienced racers will help them learn. I think groups are starting to do a better job of running camps and skills clinics and there are certain people who are taking it upon themselves and making sure things are better for women.
What can we do at the local level to help grow women's participation?
It’s hard to say because if we don’t take it upon ourselves, it’s hard to expect other people to be doing stuff for us. I think a good step, and an easy one, was separating women’s results during races. It’s really frustrating though, and you hear it from everbody: have the categories so ladies can participate, but if they don’t show up, how can you feasibly run a category? It’s hard for women in some ways because in reality, there’s really only one or two categories - Cat. 1/2/3 and Cat. 4/novice. So, if I want to be competitive, I have to train like a pro, even though I have a full-time job. Even if I don’t train like the pros, I have to race with them.
Something that’s come across in other interviews is this idea of women feeling intimidated when they first start. Can you talk about whether you’ve felt any systemic barriers to participation yourself?
I guess I started a little bit later, but not that much later in life. I guess it’s just my personality, or maybe because I’m a little bit older, but I don’t easily get intimidated by people. I have no problems speaking with people when issues come up. But I can definitely see how it can be intimidating for new women when they show up to a race because there’s just one category. They’ll show up and end up racing against pros, so having a single women’s category is definitely intimidating.
What advice or wisdom do you want to pass on to women who are thinking about lining up for their first race?
Don’t be intimidated. Sure, you may get dropped the first few times, but just doing it more - it’s partly about getting experience - you’ll get stronger and you start hanging in there. You’ll meet great friends, and even if you’re strong, a Cat. 1 woman sometimes gets dropped. It happens, so just use it as motivation to get stronger. Just come out and you’ll find that people are generally pretty friendly. I think sometimes it’s also intimidating when you show up to a race and everybody has the really nice bikes with the fancy carbon wheels, or whatever and you show up with an aluminium bike and you’re wondering if you can keep up - just forget all of that if you can. It’s a small group [of women] and it might seem clique-y, but it’s really not. People will generally be pretty welcoming.