What's your day job?
I’m a data analyst.
How long have you been racing?
I started in 2009 with the EV Young Women’s Camp so I did a single Tuesday night crit that year and had my first full season in 2010.
I race road and a little bit of cyclocross, and occasionally, track. Do you have a favourite? Umm, they’re really different to me. Road is something I take a little more seriously and I love the structure of training and setting goals and having a season that I can plan ahead of time. I’m also quite involved in my club as an ambassador for road as well, so ‘cross is kind of like a vacation from all of that because it’s just so ridiculous. How can you possibly be goal-setting when you’re trying to plan your costume and trying to take a bourbon hand up. It’s all the fun parts of racing without the stress, but I guess I kind of like the stress of road cycling too.
How long were you "just riding" before racing?
A couple of years. I got into the sport in kind of a funny way: I had a crush on a bike mechanic and so I decided to learn how to build a bike so I’d have an excuse to go into the Bike Kitchen all the time. So I started on a death trap single-speed Apollo fixie that I cobbled together at UBC. Do you stll have it? No. And the mechanic didn’t really work out either.
How do you find balance between training, racing, and the rest of your life?
don’t think I’m very good at it. I definitely prioritize my bike over the rest of my life. I mean I really, really love my job and enjoy what I do. I enjoy the geeky and nerdy aspects of being a more technical and analytic person and outside of that, I mean, I don’t get tired of riding my bike on the weekends. It’s a hard balance and I know I’m never going to be as good as everybody else. You come home from a stage race and you go to work the next day as opposed to going for a recovery ride to the coffee shop so it’s a lot harder but I don’t think I’d have it any other way. I love using my brain and I love using my legs and I don’t want to have to choose between the two, so instead, I’m just really busy. Do you have any strategies for managing your time? Like I said, I really enjoy the structure of training, and I work 9-5 and have a really predictable work schedule, so if I plan it out, I know I’m going to be training in the evenings. I know what I want to accomplish on the weekends.
I think the biggest thing for me is that I really plan my food. It’s really silly, but you end up with limited for groceries and cooking and you come home really, really hungry if you just came home from spin class so I find myself making little nutrition plans at the beginning of the week so I actually have something in my fridge when I come home. What’s your favourite post-ride/workout food? Well, sometimes, it’s pastries (laughing) but I’ll maybe have a recovery drink and a buffalo burger with a salad. Red meat and salad are a pretty good combo.
What made you want to dive into the competitive side of cycling?
I was competitive in school and totally sedentary. I was really competitive with my grades and it was this transition at the end of university where I went from being competitive about my degree to suddenly having nothing to be competitive about. I’d been going for longer and longer rides and learning more about the sport and then found out that there was this clinic for women who were maybe kind of sort of interested in racing and figured why not give it a try? I got hooked pretty quickly.
Were you nervous or hesitant about the thought of pinning on a number?
I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified. Like I said, I was completely sedentary growing up so I never did sports as a kid. I didn’t really have any experience with sports competition. I’ve never been so nervous in my life as I was on my first Tuesday night crit.
Do you remember your first race? Tell me what was going through your mind.
Just sheer terror, but then the race was over in just 25 minutes and nothing terrible had happened. Everything was fine and I suddenly realized that I was making a really big deal about something that was actually just fun and not that scary at all. Do you still get nervous? Oh, totally. I still get nervous but I’ve learned to recognize it and I guess I try to spin it in my mindand tell myself that I’m prepared. I recognize the jitters and that feeling of anxiety and that means I know I’m ready to race. Because if I wasn’t anxious or a little bit scared, then maybe I don’t really feel excited about racing anymore.
What are your thoughts on the current state of women's racing in the Lower Mainland?
I think things are getting better, mostly. I mean a lot of people are put in a difficult position when it comes to women’s cycling, race organizers especially. There’s a lot of talk about prize money and there’s a lot of talk about even just equal opportunities for women but it’s really difficult because it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation for everybody.
I think we’re extremely lucky locally to have really great organizers. Every organizer I’ve ever met or talked to has felt really strongly about supporting women and they’re absolutely willing to go the extra mile to give female cyclists recognition when it comes to racing. That’s amazing and I think thanks to that, we’ve seen more and more teams step up to specifically support women’s cycling. In my club, that’s a really big group of people we want to support and empower. There are also women’s only teams or teams with women on them and it’s amazing that all these people, both men and women, are going out of their way to welcome and foster and help grow the sport. Overall, I’d say I’m really optimistic about it and I love seeing all of the energy and positive attitudes that have been going into it in the last few years.
Your club recently held a social event for prospective/interested women racers. How did it go?
It was great! We had a lot of new faces; I recognized almost nobody. A lot of women who weren’t affiliated with any teams or regular groups were there. Just women who love to ride their bikes and thought about racing but didn’t know where to start. I’m really hoping that more and more of those women are given the resources they need to know what events they’re supposed to do, where they’re supposed to get their race license, what to wear or what to eat. We were just there to facilitate that. Obviously it’s great when they end up joining our club, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t the goal. It was about community and telling people “Hey, you’re not alone. This is really fun and you should try it out. Here’s what you need to know.”
What can we do at the local level to help grow women's participation?
We have a really interesting structure for our team and quite frankly, I’ve love to see other groups doing it: Typically in Cat. 1/2 teams, you’ll see incredibly experienced racers who are expected to race their bikes. They receive some level of sponsorship and support and their contract basically states that they’re going to race a lot, they’re going to be really, really fast, and they’re going to get results. We’re very different in that my role is race ambassador and I’m part of a team of six women and five men and we’re all Cat. 1/2 and we’re also expected race our bikes really fast and really often, but we have a certain amount of responsibility to foster up and coming riders.
We have 300 members in our club and we develop those riders’ skills and help give them the skills and whatever training knowledge we have to ensure that they’re safe and can get faster. We kind of joke that it’s kind of like a pyramid scheme, but we’re expected to pass our experience and knowledge on to grassroots riders who we hope will then become ambassadors who can help as more novice riders join the club. That’s something I’d like to see more of in the community because we have all of these fantastic accomplished racers who are sometimes perceived as living in a bubble of being fantastic accomplished racers and not interacting as much with the new riders.
What advice or wisdom do you want to pass on to women who are thinking about lining up for their first race?
I guess the biggest one is just to get out there and do it. I mean it’s really easy to become intimidated, or make excuses, or procrastinate. Maybe week after week you’re going to keep telling yourself you’re going to do a Tuesday crit but you make an excuse for not doing it because deep down you’re really scared. But when you finally show up and do it, it’s going to be amazing and you’re going to be so sad that you missed all the previous ones.
It’s a great community. Everyone locally is so supportive of women’s racing and you’ll show up and maybe you’ve pinned your number on wrong, but everyone makes mistakes in their first race. I think we had somebody who went off the course once. Just embrace it. It’s a learning experience and everybody there wants to help you. In the end, you’re going to make these amazing friends who are going to be a part of your life for a really long time, so don’t delay.