KHTHE KATIE HOLDEN STORY
First impressions of Katie Holden usually include her infectious bubbly attitude, her genuine interest and care for those around her, and occasionally the smell of hamburgers. It is her unshakeable sense of self that makes her the incredible media athlete and mentor that she has evolved her riding career into. With an extremely well balanced outlook on career longevity, passion for travel, and love of T-Swift, I have been lucky enough to spend some more time with Katie this year and get a look into what it is that keeps her smiling - even when an injury forces her to take time off her bike.
Describe your last season, what was last year like for you?KH:
Last year was the first year I really got my bearings as a freeride and adventure ambassador - aka a media athlete. I had been working towards it for a chunk of time so that work paid off but at the same time there is no one really telling you how to be a media athlete so you have to learn as you go which is something I really enjoy, it keeps me on my toes and hungry. As an ambassador, my job is to get out there, be available, accessible, approachable. I want to get people excited and inspired to go on adventures of their own by showing them where they can go, how they can do it and push them to make that step to actually go somewhere and do something. I share my adventures though, social media, various project mediums and a lot of face time, meeting so many great people around the world is something I really love about it. DB:
What was your transition from? What were you doing before 2013?KH:
I was racing through 2012. Around 2010 I had a couple of years where I had a lot of injuries back to back, and I started expanding my involvement in the bike industry. I started announcing for Pinkbike a bit, I wrote for Decline, I got really good at using my GoPro (thanks to Aaron Chase) even though I couldn't ride my bike I wanted to keep my mind and body active in other ways, originally the other projects were to fill this void but then I fell in love with it. And at that time I figured out that there were other things I could do, I didn’t just have to race, I could ride my bike as a job but there was a whole other side to it that was untapped. So I basically used a couple of years to focus on the racing so I could build my resume, I knew those credentials would be important for the next phase. It’s like getting your degree almost. I got all my ducks in a row until I was sure that I would be able to make the transition. DB:
Now, with being a media athlete, what does this year look like for you?KH:
My job with Liv essentially is about sharing the all-encompassing lifestyle of cycling around the world. This means travelling to different places and meeting a lot of different communities, and showcasing this lifestyle and the really cool communities that cycling creates. You don't have to be a professional rider to use your bike as a vehicle to see the world. I want people to understand that everyone can do it, by travelling with your bike you can access all these amazing communities - it breaks down borders and barriers and blends cultures. You can show up in a really small town anywhere in the world and because you are travelling by bike you are immediately welcomed into the community, that is my really big take-away from all these experiences, we are all people and we aren't all that different. With the a bike the world is actually a pretty small place.
|I have known Katie for ten years. When I first met Katie I thought she was super bubbly, hardcore, and a terrible cook. All she knew how to cook were hamburgers on a George Forman grill, so at all times her apartment smelled like hamburgers. She was the person who got me into mountain biking. I bought her old bike and she took me out the first day, we did a bunch of laps and she took me off Dirt Merchant and I broke my collarbone. But I had so much fun! I am where I am because I started biking, I wouldn't have my career or this life without having met Katie. |
- Kristin Smart, Sombrio Product Manager
Who are a few people in the bike industry who inspire you?KH:
I really look up to and love riding with Jill Kintner. She’s such an amazing athlete, so talented and an incredible friend. I’ve learned so much from her, not just about bikes, but life general and from her professional demeanour. She makes me feel like a better person every time I hang out with her.
Same with Rebecca Rusch, she really took me under her wing in the last five years with her Gold Rusch program and taught me so much on the business side of things. I feel like without her I wouldn’t be where I am. She always believes in me and is pushing me to reach my potential. She is taught me a lot about the business side of being an athlete - it’s a business, you’re not just riding your bike, you need to conduct yourself professionally and always be planning for things on the horizon. Her influence has shaped my career. DB:
Do you find that you get a lot out of coaching for programs like Rebecca’s Gold Rusch Tour?KH:
Yes, I think coaching is really cool. It’s really exhausting, but every time I leave it I’m super fired up. I love hanging out with all the women and I love seeing them make transitions, grow as riders and fall in love with biking. DB:
How are you enjoying the Ride Like a Girl mentorship program?KH:
Bailey is the rider I was paired up to mentor, but I’m also working with Kyleigh Stewart. I’m not formally her mentor but there were only five athletes in the program and she didn’t get paired with anyone, I think she has so much potential. I just want to give her that push too so I’m working with both of them. I love it! It’s really about spending the time and telling them that they can do it; if they are at the top of the rock and they’re riding with a group of people maybe they won’t get a chance to look at it or they don't know their own capabilities. I can tell them ‘these are skills you have and this is why you can do it.’ And then they have the confidence to do it. The rock is a literal example but I want them to recognize their capabilities in all areas of their lives. They can be whoever they want to be and do what it is they dream of in life they just have to keep moving forward and growing. I feel like mama bear, I love the two of them so much!
Rebecca Rusch was that person for me and it's because of her influence that I am able to ride my bike for a living now and I know how important it is to have that person in your life and so I want to provide that for these girls.
|Katie is one of the best coaches I've ever had. She pushes me, but not too much, so I still feel comfortable and I'm not quite out of my comfort zone, but it's still just enough. And I've really improved, just in a couple of weeks. I was riding double blacks on opening weekend, which is pretty cool. She's just so awesome. |
And you’ve mentioned previously that you took time to set goals with the girls at the beginning of the year.KH:
We did a bunch of goal setting for the both of them. I had them write out their goals, both short term and long term goals, I had them make vision boards with all the things they want to do – bike stuff and non-bike stuff. One of my strengths has been that I’ve got biking but it’s just once piece of the puzzle and I have a lot of other interests. If I do get injured or something like that, I don't panic, I just grow another part of my career and keep moving forward. I want Bailey and Kyleigh to have goals that are school related, travel related, and all-encompassing. If they want to continue with biking that’s what is going to give them the longevity and make them happy. DB:
For you personally, what are some of the things that help you get through an injury?KH:
For me it’s about staying positive. I was super bummed [about dislocating my shoulder while shooting for Deep Summer] because I was working on some things for the fall and I’m bummed that’s going to get pushed back but it's part of life and part of this career that I have chosen. My biggest growing periods happen when I’m injured - it’s a chance to formally step back, clear the brain and reassess - in a good way. The reason I’m an ambassador now and not racing is a direct result of when I broke my arm four years ago. I broke my arm so I started doing other projects on the side and I was like ‘oh, I can be an ambassador and not a racer.’ DB:
How was today at the Liv Women’s A-Line event with your arm in a sling? Were you still able to participate? KH:
I couldn’t ride but I’ve still got feet, and another arm, and a mouth. So I just walked all the way down, cheered people on, listened to some T-Swift and took photos. DB:
How long have you been involved with this event?KH:
The Liv A-Line session has been going on for three years now and it is my third year being involved. I think it is a really special event so being a part of it is not even a question for me. A-Line is the most well known trail in the world but also one of the most intimating because of the volume of people that ride it. This event gives women of all abilities a chance to ride it and get comfortable on it without anyone running them over or pressuring them. It's got such a great vibe, I would love to see this happen on other trails on the mountain. DB:
Has it grown over the years?KH:
I don’t know what the numbers are from year to year, but the vibe is definitely growing. I’m pretty sure there were more people here this year than last year, but last year it happened and then people scattered a bit, but this year everyone is just hanging out. It’s all about the lifestyle and the vibe, and people making friends and I think that’s the take away from it all.
|We had 150 girls show up, so we doubled what we had last year. It was a huge turn out. Next year we want to grow it again - 300 women down A-Line would be amazing. They are all doing things that they hadn't done before. We had coaches and guides on-course as well, so they are all pushing their limits in a safe environment. It is a chance to have their own space, have support, and to cheer each other on. |
-Amalie Pasternak, Liv Giant Brand Specialist
Do you think that people progress their riding during the event?KH:
Totally. I’ve met so many people who have tried things for the first time during this, so many people did the A-Line rock drop for the first time today. It’s really intimidating to try something when there are all these guys who are yelling at you or telling you to move. Today there was an instructor at the top, and instructor at the bottom, lots of positive energy and people could take a half hour or even an hour if they want to do it. There were so many people out there today who are totally capable of riding A-Line but they were scared to go on it because they didn’t want to get run over and now they’ve done it!DB:
Is the ride broken into groups based on ability? KH:
It’s pretty informal coaching, there’s a bunch of different coaches and if you want instruction you can hook on with the instructor but if you don’t want coaching you don’t have to. There’s help if you need it but if you just want to ride with your friends and not be bothered than you can. DB:
If you didn’t ride bikes what would you be doing?KH:
I think I would be doing something similar; adventure tourism or journalism. An active lifestyle and travel is really important to me and always has been in my life. I don’t know exactly what but it would be something along those lines. DB:
What is your favourite place that riding bikes has taken you?KH:
Everywhere. I hate that you meet so many cool people and go to so many cool communities around the world and it’s like you can’t go back to them every single year but you want to. I have a real soft spot for Chile and Argentina, Mexico and Jamaica, and. . . I connect a lot with the South and Central American vibe where everything is a bit looser and everyone just looks out for each other, there’s something about those communities that I just love.
|I'm really excited to be a part of the [Liv] program. I love the culture and vibe and it makes me happy. |
What or where is your happy place?KH:
I’m happiest when I’m on the move and growing as a person. This could be as easy as be seeing a sunset, or travelling somewhere new, or meeting a new person, but I’m the happiest when I’m surrounded by new places, people, things, and am constantly learning. If I'm growing everyday I'm happy!
Here is a little edit from the Liv Women's A-Line session: