What's your day job? 

I am a full-time student and I have volunteer jobs that I do on the side. I help out at the Burnaby Velodrome Club as their volunteer coordinator and then I also volunteer with the Nursing Research Symposium that I’m planning, so that’s keeping me busy. You said you had gone back to do your Master’s and that you were working before this. What were you doing before you went back to school? I worked as a full-time RN doing some overtime work as well, so my life was totally packed with work. Shift work allowed for some days off which was nice, but I worked as a maternity nurse and I did labour and delivery work as well as post-partum stuff.

How long have you been riding bikes?

I’ve been riding bikes casually and relaxed for ten years. My husband is active and when I met him, I was biking. [racing?] I’ve been racing for about half a year now. I started in September 2014 and I went to every Friday night race.

What made you want to dive into the competitive side of cycling? 

The transition was almost shocking because I started riding more kilometres to train and get used to riding with a group because my husband enjoyed it. I wanted to see what that was like and to get more involved. The more mileage I rode, the more I realized that I was actually OK with the suffering part. The suffering part, honestly, held me back from really trying hard and trying to excel. I just wanted fitness, a low level of fitness. Once I started going more mileage, I realized I didn’t mind the rough part of cycling and that got me thinking that I might like competition. The track inspired me. Once I started riding there, I just decided “I think I can actually race” because the races are short and the intensity is really fun for me. [why track?] I heard about the track years ago from my husband and once we moved to Vancouver (two years ago), we went and checked it out on a Feature Friday Night and I was SO excited. My husband surprised me by getting us the Learn to Ride package so once we did that over Christmas, then I just started to enjoy it as a form of fitness because you could ride indoors all year. After that, the community chatting about that and the fact that there’s nothing stopping me from starting racing as an adult got me really excited and once I started, it kept building from there.

Why did you decide that cycling was where you wanted to start competing?

I never felt like I could push myself to my limits until I got on the bike. No other sport has ever taken me to a place where I could push myself to those limits and increase my strength. For the first time, I felt like I had some control over my progression of building strength and fitness in a sport.

How do you find balance between training, racing, and the rest of your life? 

I’m extremely lucky that my husband also rides and spends more than 20 hours a week doing so. Since he’s doing that, it’s easy to make cycling a priority and he supports that choice. I make sure that organize myself to be able to get my school work and my volunteer stuff done, but I do make riding a priority, usually at the beginning of my day, or I make a plan with friends in the community so that we’re all able to drive out to the track together. As long as I make plans and prioritize riding, I can get the training time in. I’m not finding the other stuff too hard since having a husband and not having kids is a little bit easier of a schedule than some other people may have.

Were you nervous or hesitant about the thought of pinning on a number? 

I was really nervous, absolutely. I was scared of getting too close to riders, I was scared of falling, but the more I did it next to safe riders, the less scared I became. The more I did it, I also gained skills to be able to react to dangerous situations. [still nervous?] It’s a different feeling. Now I’m more nervous about doing well and making sure that I’m always pushing myself in races so that I can improve. Mostly I’m just scared of falling off the back and looking silly, but the community at the track doesn’t care about that at all. I’m nervous about road racing though, because I just started. [Why is that?] My riding outdoors is less comfortable than riding on the track. I’ve been doing more indoor riding, so I think it’s a matter of fast turns going at speed, hugging a wheel and watching out for other riders, etc.

Do you remember your first race? Tell me what was going through your mind. 

So I was at the Victoria Trackfest and I did the sprint tournament and mass start races. The straightaways there are really long and I remember feeling really defeated because I was pushing myself as hard as I could, but I couldn’t grab a wheel and had fallen off the back of the group. At the same time, I was so inspired to keep going because I could see how much fun it was when you were in the pack and I was with them for a bit before I had fallen off. There were some other girls who had also fallen off and we worked together, so overall, it was a positive experience. I also realized how far I had come.

What are your thoughts on the current state of women's racing in the Lower Mainland? 

There’s a lot of excitement within my group, or the people that I know. Those people, because I know them from the cycling community, they’re obviously excited about what’s going on. They inspire me and I think we’ve got a great community of local women who’ve achieved amazing things in races and fondos. I feel, however, that in some areas, there’s less emphasis and excitement created around women’s cycling. For example, in the EV Spring Series, we don’t have enough women involved for it to become an exciting thing that we have a women’s field. At the track, I feel that there’s always an attempt to create this excitement around a women’s field, but that’s just a niche within a niche sport.

What can we do at the local level to help grow women's participation? 

It’s hard to figure out what to do, if you’re not the one being affected by it. I think women should be making it big for ourselves, but there’s the race infrastructure that exists from a time when women’s fields haven’t been there. Maybe what we need to do (as women) is look at what already exists and how organizers have made things exciting for the general crowd and how to make that work for the women’s field. At the same time, I don’t feel like the men and women should be separate things, so that’s hard to answer.

Very simple things could be done. First and foremost, in order to get more women like myself more comfortable diving in, all members of the community need to be positive. If there’s a lack of skill or ability, or if a person just happens to be clumsy like me, some positive reinforcement goes a long way. As somebody who started as an adult, I sometimes felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. If the community can reinforce that the outcome isn’t necessarily the important part, but rather the participation. Just get involved. Just be with us and ride with us. With that attitude, participants can’t help but want to do better when you’re around that.

What advice or wisdom do you want to pass on to women who are thinking about lining up for their first race? 

Just ride tons. Ride your bike, whatever it is, in whatever way you like to do it. To start, just get the mileage in. Find people who enjoy challenging themselves and you’ll find yourself starting to push your limits too.