What's your day job?
I go to school. I’m in grade 10.
How long have you been racing?
I was 8 when I did my first cyclocross race, although I wasn’t training for it or anything. So I’d say I’ve been riding bikes for seven years now. I’ve been racing seriously since I was a second year U15, so that’s 3 years now. Well, I’m starting my third season.
What disciplines do you compete in?
Road, track, and cyclocross. Do you have a favourite? Probably CX. It’s just really fun and it’s short; I don’t really like the long road races very much. I like how something’s always happening and the muddy aspect of it. It kind of makes miserable weather fun. There’s so much happening at once: you have to pick your line through corners and you have to make sure you’re making passes. And the spectators and the general atmosphere of the race.
How do you find balance between training, racing, and the rest of your life?
Sometimes, not very well. I accept that once I get home from school, there’s two hours where I won’t be able to do my homework and then I need to find time for everything. I know that it’s going to be busy sometimes. For example, I didn’t do much training leading up to spring break just because I had a lot of work to do, but I’m back on it now, so that’s good. [strategies?] Usually school takes priority and then cycling, and then family and friends. It’s not a great list, but that’s kind of how it works. Do your friends ever complain that they never get to see you? A little bit, yeah (laughing).
What made you want to dive into the competitive side of cycling?
My dad’s really involved in the racing thing, so I always saw that as a fun thing. We’d go to the WTNCs to watch it and everyone was super nice to me. A bunch of racers from Symmetrics gave me their kit so it seemed like a welcoming environment, which made me want to do it. I took a couple of years from not doing any cycling and I think I came back to it because I had tried other sports and found that I liked cycling most. What other sports and what didn’t you like about them? Basketball, volleyball, ultimate, and most of the school sports. I think it may have been the team aspect of it, to be honest. In volleyball, if somebody screws up then it messes the entire team up. I like in cycling, it’s your own thing, so if you didn’t do well, it’s you and not somebody else, most of the time.
So would you consider that first cyclocross race your first real race? No. I didn’t train for it or anything and I wasn’t really racing. I was just trying to see how hard I could ride the course for 30 minutes. I don’t remember what my first actual race was. It may have been a Spring Series race, or possibly Race the Ridge or something. I probably crashed out or something because I didn’t do very well.
if you don’t remember specifics, do you remember your first season? I didn’t do very well for that entire season at all. I got dropped in all of the races and the question was more like “how long can I stick with them” than “how can I win?” How did that affect you mentally? During the race, I felt really discouraged. I think afterwards, I kind of managed to get back and it made me want to work harder, but during the race, my feeling was “I don’t wanna be here.”
Were you nervous for your first “real” race? I don’t think so. I don’t usually feel that nervous in races and I think that’s because I’ve done a bunch of races where I had no expectations, so having expectations kind of feels the same, even though it’s different. [do you go into all of your races with goals or expectations?] It depends. Often, my goal is just to stay with the group for however long I can, especially when it’s a long road race because that’s not something I’m very good at. Most of the time, I have a goal, but it’s not always to win. Often in the CX season, I want to make sure that my corners are good, or working on being in the right position in the pack.
So if you’re not nervous before a race, what are you feeling when you’re on the start line? I usually feel pretty calm. Did you develop strategies for preparing mentally? It’s almost always the way it is. Sometimes in the CX season, I’d almost be too calm before a race and would be trying to breathe hard and get my heart rate back up. I’d look at my low HR reading and be thinking, “this isn’t good.”
What are your thoughts on the current state of women's racing in the Lower Mainland?
In Vancouver especially, it’s kind of sad that there aren’t that many women racing and it definitely takes away from the experience if you only have six women in the field and those women are all of different abilities. Last year, I had a race where I was racing with Jasmin Glaeser, an Olympic medallist, and I was 14. It’s not very encouraging for women to enter and if women don’t enter, the race organizers don’t put much of an effort into it and it’s just a bad cycle.
What can we do at the local level to help grow women's participation?
It’s hard to grow because you don’t have the field sizes and you need to have this critical mass. I like what they do in the US: because they have so many people, they can run three or four women’s categories and they’ll all have people in them. I don’t know, it’s a hard question to answer. How would you compare your experiences racing locally and down in the US? I definitely prefer US racing just because there’s more people involved. When you’re doing crits in the US, it’s more fun because you have more than just six people respond to an attack. There aren’t that many junior girls, at least in the Washington area. I kind of won their Washington Junior State Crit Championship, but they have a lot more Cat. 4 women.
Do you ever consider your age when you race? Not really. I see that other people do it, so why can’t I? I mean, the junior guys race with men, so it’s basically the same thing to me.
What advice or wisdom do you want to pass on to women who are thinking about lining up for their first race?
I feel that there are certain people who are drawn to cycling anyway, and not everybody likes it. Cycling is really a matter of how much pain you can suffer and there are people who like that and people who don’t. If a person likes pain, they’ll probably like this sport. During the race, it’s not always the best feeling in your life, but afterwards, there’s a feeling of “OK, I did that, I feel good. Everything hurts, but in a good way.” So just stick it out until the end.