You've been Queen of Crankworx three years in a row, why did you decide not to contend the crown this year?
Honestly, I love Crankworx but was out of goals and motivation to be there. It wasn’t an easy decision to walk away as the reigning champion, but after 5 titles and almost 40 gold medals, I had accomplished every single thing I could in that arena across 4 disciplines. What inspires me is the process of reaching goals and learning new things, so when you "arrive", sometimes you have to shift to find that next gear. It was just time for a new challenge.
What races will you be doing this year?
Luckily, I have great sponsors who believe in whatever I want to do, so I hand selected events with the best exposure or trails I wanted to ride. I will do 3 EWS rounds depending on how they go, Sea Otter, Crankworx Whistler, National Champs, some North American Enduro rounds, and maybe an e-bike event to check it out. There are so many cool events that I never had time for that I would like to see.
I also have a really cool video/art project with Red Bull that will take quite a bit of my time. It is maybe the coolest thing I have ever been involved with, so I wanted to give that a lot of attention.
Is it hard for you to step away from the prize purse that Queen of Crankworx offers?
Totally, but it’s harder to see other people win “my events” haha. Nobody is in mountain biking purely for the money, we all love to do it, so my decision is to bet on myself, learn something new, and not worry about money.
What excites you the most about racing enduro?
Probably that I have no idea how I will do. I had millimeters to gain in the events I was doing, and enduro teaches me something about myself almost daily. At first, the challenge seemed overwhelmingly difficult as I have been a sprinter my whole life and not great at climbing, but each day I would surprise myself and get over a hurdle. It’s been fun and hard and stressful, but I’m excited to test out all the hard work.
What have you changed up with your training in order to compete in enduro this year?
Well, I got a new coach, Spencer Paxson, who is a very smart and talented endurance/XC athlete, so we just made a plan, committed to the task, and never looked back. The main thing was just to take on big days. I still think 6 hours is a crazy long time, but I learned how to pace myself, improve my wattage, and still be powerful and efficient on the downhills. The fueling part has been the hardest thing for me honestly. When you ride for an hour and a half or 2 hours, you really don’t need much, but anything longer than that you have to eat like every 30 minutes, know when to use sugars, hydrate, and carry a bunch of bullshit!
What are your expectations for the season?
It’s sort of nice to be free of expectations for a minute. Starting over is a process, and my goals are to really be in the moment and ride with good technique and confidence. For me, it’s more about ticking off daily goals to test myself. Enduro seems like an effort and energy game, so when you are prepared it’s easier to take things in and enjoy the ride, but I have never done this before, so we will see. Hopefully, my million years of race experience will keep me smart, safe, and in a good place to be a contender.