2019 Member Spotlight – Rebecca AuyerJuly, 2019
This year I tried my first mountain bike races. I have a gravel race and a gravel crit coming up in August and a fall schedule packed with cyclocross.
How did you get into off road cycling?
I bought my first cyclocross bike in 2008 after my first Ironman because I wanted a break from road riding and had seen a video online and thought it looked like fun. I had no idea what I was really in for! I’ve done some cyclocross and gravel grinders over the years but decided to commit to off road adventures this year after spending 15 years racing mainly triathlon.
What are some of the differences with off road cycling?
Bike handling is so important for off road riding and the most foreign concept to triathletes.There’s a huge variety of mountain bikes and the type of racing you can do. I chose the Wilmington Whiteface 100k in Lake Placid that’s part of the Leadville race series as my first mountain bike race because the terrain wasn’t very technical. There was substantial climbing but six hours on a bike doesn’t seem that bad when you don’t have to run a marathon after! Cyclocross races are loops on a course for 30-60 minutes depending on your race category. There’s lot of tight turns, off camber hills, barriers which you have to dismount and carry your bike over (or bunny hop), sand pits and stairs.The races are held at parks with the majority of the terrain being grass, but they can quickly turn into mud pits after a heavy rain. I’ve even raced on snow!
Do you have to train differently than from doing triathlons?
The bike training is very different from an Ironman. I used to do a lot of long intervals, low cadence and endurance type work but now I focus on shorter high intensity intervals for my workouts and on bike handling whenever I’m outside. I also have a lot more free time!
What is the biggest mistake that you’ve made?
Eyes on the trail, not your Garmin! I’ve become pretty adept at crashing gracefully.
Do you have any favorite races?
DCCX is my favorite cyclocross race and it’s local! It’s a great race to come watch if you want to learn more about the sport. Wednesdays at Wakefield is a mid week mountain bike race series at Wakefield park that’s been a fun introduction to singletrack mtb racing for me.
Any recommendations for someone that would like to try some off road cycling?
Local bike shops have mountain bike demo days all summer. They’re a great opportunity to check out the parks and help guide your decision on the type of bike and riding you want to do. The DC area has the most welcoming community for getting women into cyclocross that I’ve ever experienced. Come race with me!