Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More interviews to come.

I should have delayed each interview instead of posting all of them in the first week. There are more interviews coming, and I will be posting them as soon as they become available. Are there any suggestions on who you would like interviewed? I will do my best to get it done.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

29 questions with Jean Ann McKirdy

First off, could you tell me a little about yourself? Like what you do, who you race for, and why etc.

About me:

I grew up in the village of Valemount BC, and started mountain biking in high school, through the excellent mountain bike program at the school. Things took off from there. I have been racing for nine years, and am currently riding for the Local Ride Elite Women’s MTB Team, which Sandra Walter and I founded this year. This year I graduated from Simon Fraser University, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. I race because I love the challenge of competition, pushing myself to become better, but also because I love the dynamic and adventurous nature of the sport. No two trails are the same, the sport has given me amazing opportunities to travel, experience the world and grow.

1. What is your prerace meal?

8 grain porridge and yogurt, loaded with fruit, almond butter, a little lemon zest, plus stovetop espresso.

(Jean Ann on a descent at the Edmonton Canada Cup)

2. How old are you?


3. How long have you been racing bikes? (or riding bikes)

9 years.

4. What do you do in your spare time, if you have any?

Catch up with family and friends, preferably while doing something outdoors. Ski touring and kayaking are two favorites for the off season. I also enjoy drawing and painting, and am currently learning guitar.

(on the flat stretch at the Edmonton Canada Cup)

5. What movies have you seen lately?

The Secret Life of Bees

Wired to Win

6. Your music preference?

I like a variety, but folk and classical are currently at the top of the list.

7. Your preference in bicycle brands?

Here are my top two:

1) I love my prototype Xprezo steel hardtail. It is light and fast and very raceable, with really comfortable geometry and a nice smooth steel feel. Plus the color is great.

2) My Time Titan Carbon pedals, so much float and great mud clearance.

(Short but steep climb in the Edmonton Canada Cup)

8. The best day of your life?

In terms of racing, I think the best might be Canada Games in 2005. Things came together for me well that year, and specifically that week. It was a lot of fun to win the first gold medal of the games, and have a teammate Martina Feldman in silver with me.

9. The worst day of your life?

As far as cycling goes, it was the National Championships in 2004. It was rainy, cold and miserable. I thought that I should have been on the podium in my age category, but instead ended up battling these awful cramps, spending most of the race spasming, in tears, and finishing dead last. They started the next race while I was still on course.

10. If you were a bag of chips, what kind of chips would you be?

Party Mix! I definitely like variety in life.

11. If you were on a deserted island all by yourself, and could only have three items, what would they be?

1) A great book

2) A pen, pencil and lots of paper.

3) A good knife

12. Your greatest accomplishment, or accomplishments?

This is a really hard question for me, because my accomplishments in cycling are just experiences that I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to take part in and do well at. Most of the time it is not like work, but more like play.

13. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Yes, one brother and four sisters. I am the oldest.

14. What do your parents think about you racing bikes?

They are very supportive. My mom took up riding, and now we ride together. It is a lot of fun!

15. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

I was born in Jasper AB, and grew up in Valemount BC.

16. Who is your favorite female and male actor?

Julia Roberts, and Mel Gibson.

17. Who is your favorite and female and male athlete?

You just interviewed one of them! Catherine Pendrel. For the male I would say Steve Prefontane, from my track and field days.

18. How many hours a week do you train yourself, and others?

A typical training week for me is around 14 hours.

19. Where do you live?

I currently live in Coquitlam BC.

20. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself retired from bike racing, catching up on some of the other adventures that I put on the backburner, while I compete: epic paddling and backpacking trips, and learning new skills but definitely still riding. I’d like to have a family too, so maybe that will be in the mix.

21. Do you have a nemesis, and if so, who is it?

No nemesis, but I like to battle it out with many different people, in many different situations; it depends on the discipline, the course, the ride. Often it is between friends, or the guys on the team.

22. Who is your favorite photographer? (just kidding)

I definitely have to say that the recent color-pop photos that you have done are excellent. Everyone who I show them to loves them and it is nice to see that kind of creative look at mountain bike racing.

23. Sram or Shimano?

They both have their strong points. I chose to run Sram this year.

24. Your worst injury?

Probably the one I have dealt with this summer, a bad back strain and damage to the SI joint, from a crash at the Edmonton Canada Cup. It was inconvenient timing, because it happened right before the most important races of the year for me, the World Cups and Nationals, so cost me a lot. I am positive about making the best of it though, and looking forward to some fall races and a really fun cyclocross season.

25. You are going to school, or have finished? What are you, or were you taking?

I just finished a Biology degree at Simon Fraser University, in the Ecology and Evolution stream this winter.

26. Who in your mind is the best female mountain bike racer in the World Cups?

I would choose Catherine Pendrel. I am biased, because I am a huge fan, but I think she has the mental makeup of a World Cup Champion and all of the physical talent. She has spent much of the season ranked number one in the world, is consistent, and an up and comer for sure.

27. Have you ever raced in a stage race before, and how did you like it?

I raced the Cape Epic as a mixed team in 2006. It was the hardest and most spectacular racing I have done in my life. I also did the Transrockies last year with Les, who initially coached me and got me into the sport.

28. Would you ever do the RAAM or RAW?

Maybe. When I gain a lot more old-woman strength.

29. If you could thank someone at this point in your life for what you have accomplished, who would it be?

Definitely Les, who got the ball rolling and gave me the opportunity to start the sport.

If you would like to read more about Jean Ann, here is a link to her blog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Danelle Kabush

I do not know very much about you, so I will start from scratch. My mentor told me not to research people before you interview them. "It limits your mind" he says. So here it goes.

Danelle on the 'Georgetown' climb at the Canmore Nordic Center.

1. What types of races do you do, and who do you race for?

My main focus is Xterra racing with some occasional mtb races (off-road triathlons that consist of 1500m swim, 30km mtb, and 10km run). I race for the Luna Pro Team

2. Where do you reside, and where did you grow up?

I live in Calgary, Alberta and I grew up in Courtenay, BC

3. One of your greatest accomplishments?

Coming 2nd at last year's (2008) Xterra World Championship after taking 2007 off to have my daughter

4. Your toughest race?

The Northeast Xterra Cup I just completed on July 12th because the swim was cold, the mtb was almost a 2h uphill mudbog and the run was straight up and down the ski slopes of Sugarbush through mud and leg zapping wet grass.

5. If you could go back and change anything would you?

And if so what would you change? I wouldn't change much. I've been fortunate to enjoy being a competitive athlete as a runner through my undergraduate degree, then as a mountain bike racer for 5 years before switching to Xterra, all while enjoying a good balance with school, work, and starting a family

6. What is your pre-race meal?

Oatmeal, toast, egg, and coffee

7. What inspires you to go out and make yourself suffer through a race? (When taking photos I hear riders asking themselves, "why am I doing this to myself?")

Because I have the support to train to the level I need to and the opportunity to compete. I know I won't be racing at the level I am for too many more years, so I try and get the most out of myself in every race

8. What do you do in the winter for training?

I cross-country ski, swim, run, and ride my trainer or rollers indoors

9. Have you ever done any stage races before?


10. Your toughest race? And why?

See question 4

11. In your mind who is the best female mountain bike racer of all time? (Alison Sydor in my book)

I agree as far as longevity or career!

12. What do you do in the spare time that you do have?

Take my daughter to the park, bake cookies, catch up with friends, read

13. Which is the toughest mountain bike course?

That's a tough one...I think Canmore is up there for the effort needed in the climbs and the focus to ride the descents quick

14. What are your strong points, and weak points in mountain bike racing?

Strength is climbing, weakness is probably cornering fast

15. I notice that Geoff Kabush (brother) is a very smooth rider, do you take after him with this skill?

I like to think I'm smooth for sure, but not as fast by any means!

16. If you could change anything in mountain bike racing, what would it be? (for me it would be sleeveless jerseys allowed in UCI rules)

Maybe keep the races a little longer, 1h30 for women is getting to be more of a sprint.

17. What do you do when you are not racing or training? (work, children, etc.)

I'm being a mom and I work as a mental training consultant at the Canadian Sport Centre in Calgary

18. Which Epic bike race would you like to do next year? Who would be your partner if you had one?

I'd love to do the BC Bike race one year with my husband

19. If you could do humanitarian work, where would you do it?

I would like to help underprivileged children get involved in sport, there are some great organizations out there like Right to Play that would be fun to get involved with

20. What are your goals for the rest of the season, and next season?

My goals are to finish top three at the Xterra National and World Championships

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Catharine Pendrel interview.

This is the second interview in the series of Women mountain bikers. Would like to thank Catharine for taking the time to do this, and it is greatly appreciated.

Hi Catharine, to start off could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hmm, I’m 28, have been a professional mtn. bike racer for Luna the last 2 years (before that I worked 25-40hrs/week at a variety of flexible jobs) and a national team member since 2004. I got married to my husband Keith in 2006 and we live in Kamloops, BC. I grew up in NB, but finished University in Victoria where I met both Keith and my coach since 2003 Dan Proulx in the Triathlon Club. I have a BA in sociology and Psychology and am looking to do a masters in Physiotherapy after I make a run at the 2012 Olympics.

How long have you been racing mountain bikes?

I started riding a mountain bike in 1997 and got into racing at a recreational level right away. In 2003 when I had moved to BC from NB and could train year round I got a lot more serious about racing.

What team are you currently racing for?

Luna Pro team. Luna is the women’s nutrition line of CliffBar.

You just recently won the nationals, what was it like to be first on the podium?

Pretty awesome

Also, a week before the nationals you completed and won your category in the BC Bike race. Were you worried you wouldn’t be recovered enough for nationals?

Sure, especially before I actually started racing. I kept feeling good throughout the week though so the worry faded. I think the daily massage helped!

Do you think the BC Bike race was adequate training for the World Cup races coming up?

I think it’ll give me a strong base which should help me maintain good form through the world cups until World Championships in September. Before a mountain bike race are you nervous, and get the jitters? Or are you calm and relaxed? (some people get really nervous, feel sick, and have to pee lots). I’m usually more relaxed than nervous. You have a routine you’ve done so many times you just want to get down to racing.

Do you remember your first time riding a bike by yourself without any help?

Yup, Dad was there and we were on a grassy slope in case I fell.

What was your first mountain bike? (mine was a Norco Bigfoot, pink/black)

A K2 A47 hand me down from my brother. My dad is riding it now.

Do you plan on doing other stage races in the future like the BC Bike race?

I’d love to do the BC bike race again. I don’t think I’d be overly excited to do one that was mostly fireroads.

Have you ever thought of doing Endurance races in Europe ever and maybe competing against Pia Sunstedt?

Not really. I like going fast rather than long. I think it’d be fun to try racing World cup road though.

This year you shattered the Test of Metal record for women. For this race did you change up your game plan from last year?

I hadn’t raced it for a couple years. Test times are always altered by conditions. This year was pretty fast and I think they’ve shaved about 5 minutes of time off the course from what I raced in a very rainy 2007. I didn’t Kill myself early to stay in packs with guys on the road and tried to ramp it up 2nd half of the course.

What kind of training do you do in the off season?

I love cross country skiing and switch it up between skate and classic and sometimes snowshoes. I also run and do weights to add some weight bearing activities…important for women.

What do you do in your spare time? That is if you ever get any.

I took an anatomy and physiology and French course last year. We also bought a house last year so played around with power tools a fair amount too!

For young riders, do you have any advice for them?

Have fun riding your bike! Search out cool areas to ride and neat events and always remember why you ride.

Which do you prefer, hardtail or full suspension?

Depends on the trail, but a hardtail for racing. They just feel so good when you want to put power down.

If you could thank anyone for your accomplishments, who would it be?

My coach Dan and husband Keith

Who is your number one fan?

Mom, Dad and Keith I know that’s three, but they’re all pretty great.

What should we expect to see from Catherine Pendrel in the future?

Hopefully a lot more World cup podiums and another shot at the Olympic podium

If you would like to read more about Catharine here is her blog address.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Mical Dyck interview

This is the first interview in a series that is going to focus on Women's Mountain biking.

Mical is an Elite Mountain bike, and Cyclecross racer from Calgary, Alberta. Mical is a friend and I am grateful that she let me interview her for my first official interview. Mical is a great rider as well as a great person. She brings a lot to the table when it comes to mountain biking.

1. What got you into mountain biking?

Actually my brother and my dad dragged me out on a couple of group rides in Fort McMurray, Alberta. There used to be a huge XC scene up there. I'd go along and get totally shelled every ride but loved it. They finally convinced me to try a race, it snowed, I was the only girl, it was a complete mess, but I fell in love with racing. I really enjoy the people and atmosphere around cycling.

2. Who is your number one fan?

Of course my parents :)

3. Who do you race for, and what kind of racing do you do?

I currently race for the Trek Toronto Team and I predominately race Olympic distance cross country but really enjoy cyclecross racing as well.

(this is Mical climbing 'Georgetown' at the Canada Cup at the Nordic Center '09)

4. What is your favorite pre-race meal, and post-race meal?

Pre-race - oatmeal with berries and nuts, coffee

Post-race - pizza and beer

5. If you were a bag of chips, what kind of chips would you be?

Miss Vicky's Jalapeno

6. What are your goals you have in racing?

I've always wanted to be a professional athlete, to get paid to play. My ultimate cycling goal is the Olympics

7. You have raced across the pond, how is it different than racing here?

Yes, I've raced in Europe a couple of times. Cycling is way more accepted and apart of the culture in Europe, whole communities come out to races and get involved. There are a lot more competitors racing and a lot more fans watching. It's a really neat experience getting to race in front of thousands of people.

(at the top of 'Georgetown')

8. What is your weakness in racing, and what is your strength?

Weakness - climbing, I think I need a weight category

Strengths - fast technical descents

9. What is your favorite course to race on and why?

Offenberg, Germany. It's a fast flowy but pretty technical course, and really, really fun to ride.

10. Do you prefer a hardtail or full suspension bike?

I've only ridden a full suspension for the past 4 years, but I'm rediscovering my love for the hardtail, so it's tough to say. There a couple of courses that I really love the dually for and a couple that I really love the hardtail for. Trek has done such a great job with both bikes this year, I can't complain with either one.

11. What stage races have you done, and what were your results?

Just finished BC Bike Race (2009) in the co-ed with good friend Jeff Neilson. It was an absolutely amazing week of riding some pretty wicked trails, I would definitely do it again and recommend it to everyone. We finished 2nd.

Did part of the Transrockies last year, I got sick with a stomache something or other going into the race and ended up missing the first two days. We raced the last 5 days and even had two podium days on the last two days.

13. What races do you plan on racing for the rest of the MTB season, and cross?

Getting ready for the World Cups in Quebec, Mont St Anne and Bromont. From there it will depend on whether or not I make the worlds team to go to Australia...that would be a great experience. Either way I'm planning to end the season off with the US Cup in Vegas..always wanted to go.

My cross season will depend on how much energy I have left at the end of the summer. I'm really hoping that I can be competitive for nationals this year.

14. Who is your favorite photographer?

You are:)

15. Do you prefer to race in the west or the east?

West without a doubt. It's usually dry and I love the riding in the west...though there are some great courses in the east, but they're always wet.

16. What are your passions in life?

Living each day the best I can and making the most out of every situation.

Outside of cycling I really enjoy skiing, hiking, camping, climbing....pretty much anything outdoors, coffee, sushi and reading.

17. How long do you plan to race for?

Not sure, I'm taking each year at a time right now.

18. Who is your favorite female MTB racer? Mine is Alison Sydor.

I would have to agree, Alison has done so much for the sport and for women in the sport it's amazing. As well, she's a great person to talk to, a wealth of knowledge.

19. What was your toughest race, and which was your best race?

My toughest race would have to be the 2 Canadian world cups last year. I was planning on peaking for them and ended up completing flopping at those two races.

My best race would be, that's a tough one, probably be the World Cup in Offenburg in 2008. I started more then half way back in the pack, but road a really good strong race and finished 29th.

20. Do you think they should put short track events in the ABA MTB races?

Definitely, they are a great spectator event and super fun to race.

21. Do you have any advice for young riders?

Just have fun, don't get too wrapped up in results or comparing yourself to another racer, everyone has good and bad days.

I would especially like to thank Mical for doing this interview. It is greatly appreciated. Good luck in your races.

If you would like to read more on Mical here is her blog address