Where do you live, what do you do for a living and how old are you?
I live in Middle Grove. I am an Arctic/Antarctic geologist and stay-at-home mom, and I’m 40!
What kind of bikes do you ride? What are the features you like about it?
I like to ride as many different bikes as possible to mix things up and improve my bike handling skills. I am mainly a mountain bike rider/racer, but have been dabbling in road and gravel riding as well. I have a Trek Top Fuel (full-suspension mountain bike), a Specialized Crave (hardtail mountain bike), a Santa Cruz Stigmata (gravel bike), a Trek Crockett (cyclocross bike), a Specialized Tarmac (road bike) and a Motobecane Boris (fat bike). My full suspension mountain bike gets the most use, but the gravel bike comes in a close second! I love how both of these bikes are super lightweight and the braking is very responsive in the gnarliest conditions. Caleb at Blue Sky does a fantastic job of fitting these bikes to me, and the mechanics have always done a great job servicing my bikes during and between race seasons.
How long have you been riding and how did you get into cycling?
I bought a mountain bike the day I retired from my previous sport (Ultimate Frisbee) ages ago, but I didn’t start riding it until my children (now aged 6 & 8) started school, about 4 years ago. My neighbors brought me into SMBA, at which point there were plenty of tears and cursing, but the more I went back and kept at it, the more I fell in love with the sport. It is my favorite place to ride bikes now! My mom was a pro Ironman triathlete in the ‘80’s, so I grew up around competitive cycling and multi-sport athletes, which definitely influenced my love of competition and being outside exercising.
How do you typically put the miles on your bikes? Do you keep track of your miles?
I’d like to say that I ONLY ride mountain bikes. However, a good friend/teammate of mine told me as I entered the mtb racing world that unfortunately, if you want to become a really good mountain bike racer, you can’t JUST ride your mountain bike. You need to put the miles and time in on the road to improve fitness too. So I did and I still do, but I only do it to improve my mtb fitness/skills. I have to admit, shock HORROR, I don’t love road riding. BUT I ride 4,000-6,000 miles a year (12-15 hours a week), and a lot of those miles are on the road bike. I have become smitten with the gravel riding this year, though, since buying my Stigmata from BSB in March, and have almost completely replaced my road miles with dirt/gravel miles. You can still do the long steady efforts and the shorter interval efforts on gravel that you would do on the road, but without the cars and the stress of texting drivers! It’s magical, a total game changer!
I keep track of my rides and miles through Strava. It’s a fun handy app to record rides and keep tabs on your riding friends! It’s also nice because you can record any sort of activity you are doing! In the off-season, I build my endurance by mixing it up running (ran a marathon by myself in the Spa Park Friday for fun), swimming, snowshoeing, and XC skiing, and the app keeps track of each of these activities also. Strava also satisfies my social media need in a healthy way!
Do you have some favorite routes?
SMBA/Stables is my favorite all-time place to ride mountain bikes. It (and Spier) is as gnarly as it gets around here and it is SUCH a high when you ride and live to tell about it in SMBA. It’s the only place I won’t ride alone, however, due to the high chances of all sorts of things going wrong! I also love riding Gurney Lane and Kalabus Perry when I am riding alone. Since I do most of my riding while my girls are in school, I ride alone 95% of the time, so I choose these locations more often than not. If I am gravel riding, my favorite area is Washington County dirt; and for road riding, I love riding around Sacandaga Lake from my house, up and over Lake D/Fox Hill. I was lucky enough to be able to ride mountain bikes in Marin and Lake Tahoe, CA this spring and summer and I would highly recommend both of these places for those looking to ride MTB outside of the NE.
What are your long-term cycling goals?
Keep having fun!
What are your proudest moments as a cyclist?
My proudest moments have been: being invited to join North American Velo, my race team, three years ago; hanging onto the wicked-fast Tuesday Night Ride world champs (20+ of the fastest male riders/racers in the region) for an entire HOUR…ONCE; qualifying for the XTerra World Championships as Northeast Regional Champion (2017); Black Fly Challenge Cat 1 Cyclocross AG champion (2017 & 2018); grabbing a podium spot at the 2017 VT50 mtb race; and being 2-time NY State Cat 1 Mountain Bike Champion (2017 & 2018). But perhaps my BIGGEST PROUDEST achievement in the sport has been starting my own mountain bike club for little girls this year.
What prompted you to start a mountain biking club for girls? Tell us about the club.
I selfishly started the club this fall (2018) so that my girls (ages 6 and 8) would stop complaining when they were riding with me! As soon as we had a couple of little friends join us, there was not a single complaint from my girls (mom life-hack!) and they had an amazing time! This little parenting trick quickly turned into this wonderful group of as many as 14 to 16 little shredders! We meet every Friday in the fall and spring in the Saratoga Spa State Park. We ride a bit of wide dirt tracks first so the girls can get used to loose dirt under their wheels, then head into the singletrack, mess around on the whoop-dee-do’s, ride on the open grass fields of the pavilions, ride up and down curbs and steps, through sand pits and mud puddles, eat snacks, and do a few drills disguised as games at the end! It is just the best.
To see these girls show up every week, sometimes bringing a new friend with them, inspires me to keep at it. They are silly and serious, they are timid and brave, they are little and big, they are muddy and clean, they are introverted and extroverted, they are their own little personalities, but together they are girls on mountain bikes and I am helping to empower these girls by getting them on their bikes. We are certainly not anti-boys, but we are a strictly girls-only riding club. There are so many fantastic opportunities for boys out there, and we still struggle as girls and women to have such opportunities. This is something small I can do for our little community of girls: getting them on their bikes with their friends, getting them outside enjoying our local trails, challenging their little minds and bodies to do things they didn’t realize they could do, and providing them leadership opportunities by letting them lead sections of our ride.
I am lucky to be in a place in my parenting and racing career that I can do this for my girls and our community of girls in the Saratoga area. So please join us! Girls of all ages are welcome, as long as they are off training wheels (which are not super conducive to trail riding :))! I hope to see all you little shredders in the spring! Join our Facebook group: Saratoga Girls’ Mountain Bike Club, to keep updated on the group.
What tips would you offer to less experienced riders?
Just ride your bike. Get on your bike and ride it! Ride different bikes, ride different trails, ride the same bike on different trails, ride different bikes on the same trails, ride different bikes on different trails. Ride your bike, it’s the only way to improve…and it’s fun!
What’s your favorite cycling product/accessory?
Bontrager winter riding pants! And winter boots.
How do you fuel and hydrate when you’re in the saddle?
I generally ride with one bottle of water and one bottle of Skratch. I fuel with bananas, a flask of maple syrup, and Skratch energy chews. I recover with Skratch Chocolate Recovery drink.
Announcements: We’re back from our break! Now is the best time to get your bike in before it gets busy so you’re ready for Spring and that first nice day of the year.