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.

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