Wednesday, September 16, 2009

24 questions with Shonny Vanlandingham

Asking Shonny to do this interview was one of the harder things I have done. Not just because she is one of the best female mountain bikers of all time, but because of her stature and what she has accomplished in her life already at such a young age. This will show you what hard work and determination can bring you.

Photo credit to Rich Cruise

What was your first bicycle?
XR75 Honda and a Pink Huffy with knobby tires.

2. Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle by yourself? Did you teach yourself to ride, or did someone show you? How impressed were you with yourself after riding it the first time?
My brother got me going on the XR75 Honda and then jumped off the back. I could ride it fine but couldn't put my feet down to stop at 5 yrs old. When I was ready to stop I jumped off and ghost rode it to a fall.
3. When growing up who was your mentor? (who did you idolize growing up?)
My older Brother, Terry, since he was a great athlete and a nice guy.

Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Still processing beans on my Kona coffee farm,

I have read that you have a place in Colorado and in Hawaii, what is the main reason you have the two places?
I started going to Hawaii in the winter 12 yrs ago chasing the warm climate for training. Now I am in love with both the ocean and the mountains (Durango, CO).

Photo credit to Nils Nilsen

6. How good are your coffee beans?
100% Kona coffee is consistently rated #1 for gourmet coffee. Along with the ideal climate for growing the coffee bean you have to have a quality roast to bring out the best flavor. We have both at Wahine Farms.
7. What kind of nicknames have you had growing up?
'Fathead' (my Brother started that!), and 'Money' (from college basketball teammates)

What is on your ipod for music?
A variety. I enjoy some aspect of all genres.

9. Have you seen any good movies lately?
Man on Wire

10. Do you prefer hardtail or full suspension for mountain bikes?
Orbea Alma hardtail for racing and Orbea Oiz or Occam full sus for play.

Earlier in one of my interviews Jean Ann McKirdy had made reference to ‘old-woman strength’ ( question #28) when I had asked her if she considered doing “RAAM” (Race Across America). When does this ‘old-woman strength’ kick in?
haha, so you're saying I'm old?? Well, I must say the older I've gotten (I am now 40) the tougher my mind has become. When you can draw on experience you bring another element to racing and training.

12. Can you for see yourself getting bored of Xterra in the years to come?
No, not really. XTERRA racing presents so many challenges with the three disciplines of swim, bike, run. To put each one together to achieve your best race is a work of art. If XTERRA ever gets mundane I'll move on to my next adventure before boredom sets in.

Most of the people reading this don’t know much about you, but you used to race MTB for who? What have you accomplished? Now you race Xterra which is a tough sport, what do you wish to get out of it and accomplish?
I began my pro mtb career with KHS in '99. Then raced with SoBe/Cannondale for a few years. I started with the LUNA Women's Pro Team in 2003 up to the present. I won 5 National Championship Titles over my mountain bike career (3 XC, 1 STXC and 1 Marathon). Last year, my first year of racing XTERRA full time, I was the National Champion and placed 3rd at the World Championships. I guess those years of basketball paid dividends to my running ability. My swim is a work in progress...

In Xterra who is your toughest competitor? (nemesis if you have one.)
Julie Dibens (England) has won the last two World Championships. And domestically, Melanie McQuaid (Canada) has a long history of XTERRA racing success.

If you were a bag of chips, what kind of chips would you be?
Kettle Buffalo Bleu. A touch of fire and ice. The tangy chili spice is straight on you. The hint of bleu cheese takes time to arrive, but when it does you’ll know. Alchemy like this – without anything artificial – is what makes me tick.

Who is your favourite Female and Male mountain bikers of all time?
Mary Hearn and Max Jones

Have you ever done any humanitarian work in your past or plan on it in the future?
Philanthropy is an important part of my life. I, along with two partners, created which sells athlete music mixes to raise money for charities. The last two years I have been working with Mercy Medical to raise money for the Breast Cancer Center that is being built in Durango, CO, through the sale of bike jerseys, auction of an Orbea road bike, and a benefit roast from my Kona coffee farm, Wahine Farms. ( Also LUNA (of the LUNA Pro Team) is an active sponsor of the Breast Cancer Fund and its efforts to eliminate the environmental and preventable causes of the disease.

For me seeing smile on someone’s face because of something I have done is very satisfying. What makes you satisfied?
My 2nd cappuccino from my Pavoni every morning. Really though, see #17 above.

Have you ever raced the MTB stage races in the past? And if you haven’t would you ever consider doing one?
I raced the Mercury Tour that was held in Steamboat, CO, back in the day. I enjoyed the multi day sufferfest.

I know all riders have strong points, and weak points on the technical side or riding. What would be your strong and weak points on the mountain bike?
The broken bones I've suffered over the years are STRONGER than before. The bones I haven't broken are a WEAK point.

What do you think of Lance Armstrong’s comeback?
A successful comeback is always an admirable story. Now he's had two successful comebacks!

Being former professional boxer that had a title shot but did not win. I have always wanted to give back to the sport. I do this by photographing boxing matches and find it to be satisfying at this point in my life. What would you like to give back to the sport? Coaching, making a team etc? I could see it now ‘Team Vanlandingham’.
I do a bit of coaching already and really enjoy it.

Do you keep track of the racing in the MTB world anymore, or have you put it behind you and focus on Xterra?
I keep up with my mountain bike teammates and other friends racing from time to time. It's fun to be a fan.

24. What is it truly like to race for Team LunaChix?
You would think with being an all women's team, there would be some drama. Well, not true for the LUNA Pro Team. The staff has done a great job of creating a team of supportive members. Being a part of a team with philanthropic efforts brings a satisfaction that only racing would not provide.

Thanks Shonny, and I really appreciate you doing this interview. It is a great help and if we can get at least one person riding a bike because of this then I have accomplished what I wanted. Thanks again and good luck in your career. Team Luna Chix has a focus in bring more females into sports and having an athletic lifestyle, if you would like to know more about Shonny Vanlandingham, Danelle Kabush, and Catharine Pendrel here is the link to check them out.