I recently had the chance to catch up with Canadian Cycling Mag on their podcast to talk about my new program, signing with Canyon, and what I’m most looking forward to in 2021. A few of those written Q and A’s below.
CM: You recently moved to the Victoria area of B.C. What drew you to the west?
I’ve been in Victoria, BC, with the Canadian National Team over the last few years. It’s the perfect proving ground for testing new equipment and getting familiar with it. With travel restrictions, all of the gear, and some of the world’s best terrain in our Canadian backyard, Victoria was the perfect fit. Typically we would train in Arizona, California, or Hawaii, during the winter months, but this was the best choice. We get to keep our dollars spent in Canada for the many local businesses in need, and we also drove here with the new team trailer to have our official team camp in Victoria, BC. It has all worked out, and we love it here.
CM: How are you finding it?
I’m loving Victoria. It’s so green here. I have our two dogs, there’s an incredible cycling culture, and I have lots of time to train and test all the new gear on new and exciting trails. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and we’re in Canada, which is extra cool.
CM: In a 2018 article in Canadian Cycling Magazine, you spoke about the speed at which things happen in your life: races, events, sponsorship-related work, feeding social media. In 2020, did things slow down for you?
Yeah, the last few years have just been so crazy, and things finally slowed down in 2020 for sure. Time stayed fast, but life slowed down, which is honestly what I needed. I’ve been able to zoom out on where I was going, and I was pretty unhappy in general. I needed significant changes in my life, and it all came to the surface in 2020, but with the races being canceled and getting the opportunity to take that time was a blessing in disguise. I remember kicking off the season in Lanzarote, Mediterranean Epic, and the Cyprus Stage races. I was super happy with how everything was going with podiums at each event. Of course, all that racing and travels wears you down, and I ended up getting sick after a Trek Store meet and greet the night before the Cyprus stage race. I raced sick for every stage and then made a 72-hour journey back to L.A. By the time I arrived back in the USA, I was so ill. I went to the E.R. to get checked out because I wasn’t sure if I had COVID, and the USA’s testing protocol was still lagging in early March, and sure enough, I got sent home with antibiotics in hopes to get better. Luckily I did get better, but I was off the bike for an entire month and a half in March/April. It was like my body had just had enough, and then the pandemic blew up, and the Olympics got canceled, races got canceled, people lost jobs, lockdowns, it was heavy. Time kind of stopped during March and April for me.
CM: What areas, if any, were still busy?
None. After getting super ill, we pumped the brakes on everything. I don’t think I was back on social media until mid-April, maybe? I was taking everything day by day, and when I did get back on the bike, I was mostly riding with the family, getting ready for the bike packing trip across Iceland. It was interesting how the lights and motivation came back on. It was a slow process, but we made it, and when I finally did get to those fall World Cups and World Championships, I was so happy to be there. I remember just not caring about the race results and being excited to train on the course, race the track, and give it my best.
CM: How did you manage your training in a year with so much uncertainty?
I took a very casual approach. I’m an athlete that can turn it on and up when I need to, and going into the season, I was doing exactly just that, but it was all for the Olympics. I am honest with myself and anyone listening. That was the only thing that mattered. I was burnt out. And when the Olympics got canceled, I took advantage of actually taking a break and letting my mind and body recover. When I did come back to training, it wasn’t structured. I rode my bike with family, did some monster bikepacking days getting ready for Iceland, and just rode for fun. I had to think and plan more holistically about 2021 and my goals, and I feel like we followed the best-unplanned plan possible.
CM: How does your training look for 2021?
Good. Everything is new for me in 2021, including a coach out of the USA. He’s worked with multiple World Champions and Olympians in all disciplines, and it’s been a lot of fun. Adam is so busy with his day job and the team that it just didn’t make any sense for him to wear the coaching hat. It wasn’t fair for him or me, so we figured it out, and it’s been amazing so far.
CM: It’s hard to plan anything right now, but what are your goals for 2021?
I’m mostly just looking forward to something new and exciting. The race calendar is uncertain, but I think the World Cups will happen, and I want to be as fit as possible when I show up at the start line at those races. Performance is top of mind for me this year, and I want to represent the new program as best I can. Adaptability, flexibility, and patience will continue to be essential during the pandemic, but I want to be ready when the time comes. Regarding the new arrangement, I’m just excited to have a say in what I do, what matters, what equipment choices are made, what P.R. events I attend, and everything else that comes with being a bike athlete.
CM: Where are you now in your career? How does it feel for you?
It feels good where I’m at at the moment, to be honest. There is undoubtedly unknowns, and changes in mindset and growth don’t happen overnight. These things take time. I feel in a good place so far though. Give me another six months, and hopefully, I’m in an even better place.
CM: You have been racing since you were 13, which means you’ve been at it for almost 20 years. What change, throughout the past 20 years, really stands out for you?
The equipment for sure. The new Canyon bikes are incredible. The engineering and innovation is really impressive to see. I remember racing on v-brakes, 26-inch wheels, and 60 mm of suspension up front. Now the bikes weigh less. They are far more capable and reliable, and more integrated than ever. The other significant change is racing. I feel like racing was at a peak in 2018 and 2019, and the viewership proves that, so hopefully, in 2022, we can begin to put the puzzle back together. The other cool thing is that there is more people on bikes than ever. The bigger question now is, how do we keep all these new people in the sport. We need programs, ride clubs, NFP youth clubs, and associations now more than ever.
Another thing that stands out for me is how entrepreneurial the sport is. Athletes need to create their content, optimize their websites, manage their sponsors and the frequency in which they promote them, and train and get results. It’s like the business of being an athlete has two tracts – performance and marketing.
CM: How has the job of being a professional mountain biker changed?
For me, it hasn’t. The race seasons have gotten longer, and the depth in talent has become more profound. Gone are the days of an athlete winning every single round of the World Cup series. Gosh, even trying to become a consistent podium contender week in and week out is maybe too much to ask of one’s self. The talent depth is deep and perhaps an unrealistic ask of oneself that will likely lead to burnout. Athletes will need to be more focused and targeted soon based on the strengths and how to best plan their schedule and manage travel and training stress. With the season being more extended, you can’t recover from the travel stress 40 days a year in an airplane when combined with the training and racing.
Full team announcement coming soon, and you can stay up to to date with more details and information by subscribing at mtbracing.com