Coryn Rivera: Why You Should Try Racing

In the hope of inspiring girls to take the jump and enter the youth categories of #GirlsAtMarshTracks, I’m going to introduce this mini series of interviews with professional female cyclists and quiz them on how they started cycling and racing. I’ll hopefully carry this on after #GirlsAtMarshTracks too. Fingers crossed they inspire you whatever age you are.

The first inspiring interview comes from across the pond with American cyclist Coryn Rivera. Riding for Team Sunweb, she took the overall at this year’s OVO Women’s Tour of Britain. She also found victory on American soil by becoming the current US National Champion.

But professional cyclists have all got to have started somewhere, and for Coryn it was at 9 years old as a result of growing up with a Dad who rode many different types of bikes, including downhill bikes.

Where did cycling all start for you?

I think I was 3 or 4 when I started on a purple Mongoose with training wheels. On a summer camping trip when I was 4, my dad took the training wheels off. In classic Wally(my dad) fashion, he was teaching me on a gravel road! I fell a couple times of course but kept getting back up until I could do it on my own. It was hard but then once I got back on the pavement and sidewalk, it was a breeze!

With your Dad being a downhiller, how did you end up road cycling? Did you race any other disciplines growing up?

He got hurt a year after he won the Amateur Cup in Big Bear, CA and he eventually started riding road to stay fit. He got a tandem with my mom and once my legs grew long enough he put me on the back of the tandem as well. After I got my own road bike and started racing, I found track cycling soon after. Then a year or so later when I was 13, I started cyclocross and did a little bit of mountain bike racing. But I didn’t go full into mountain bike racing until I was in college.

Was sport big at school, was that where your competitive edge came from? Were you one of few girls in your area who raced/cycled, or was it popular in school?

Sport was really big at school and just for me and my family. I think my real competitive edge came from my family and my urge to always do well at whatever I did. I was definitely one of the few girls in my area who raced a bike. Cycling is not super popular at American schools. In high school, I was at a school where ball sports were #1. I attended Mater Dei who are well known for their football team as well as baseball…not a lot of people understood my tanlines or cycling.

If you were the only girl who raced/cycled, did people at school understand the level you were racing at?

Not at all. I had one friend in high school who raced BMX, but other than that most of my friends had no idea. It was definitely more of a family thing and once I started racing, it was the other juniors who became my close friends and obviously understood cycling.

Cycling getting serious at such a young age, was it important for you to still go out on rides that weren’t training rides? Did your Dad even take you out on the mountain bike trails for a change of scenery.

It all started out as joining my family and my parents friend for weekend group rides from home. For sure every now and then we would hop out on the trails on the mountain bike to change it up a bit. I still do it to this day.

What were the racing fields like growing up, did you find it hard to find women’s races? Or even women to ride and train with?

Now that I look back at it, I was really lucky to grow up in Southern California local racing when I did. The fields were super competitive and deep. I grew up racing with girls like Alexis and Kendall Ryan who still race to this day on their respective World Tour Teams. Then we would race against local pros who were on teams doing bigger races. Teams like Saturn, T-Mobile, and Lipton. Locally to train with, there were not very many in my area. I would do a lot of local weekend group rides like Food Park and Como Street with the local male pros.

If you could speak to your 9 year old self now, what advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to not be too serious. But it was always my nature to never not do well. I always pushed myself to be better, so I don’t think that would have changed much!

For any young girls reading the interview, what would you tell them if they’re unsure about trying cycling as a sport, or racing?

The first step is to always try. You will never know your potential until you try. And if you fail, keep trying. If you like it enough, you will get where you want to be. But most important is to have fun with what you do!

So what are you waiting for? Get entering…

British Cycling Event Page

#GirlsAtMarshTracks Blog Post

I can’t thank Coryn enough for sqeezing answering these questions in to her busy race schedule!

Photo’s taken from Coryn’s social media pages!

Tactical Numpty or Bad Luck?

The past two weekends have seen me racing, which I’ve not done anywhere near enough of this year. The first weekend was Welsh Road Champs, but in hindsight I should have tried the TT instead. This weekend was a crit race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit.

I probably should have written about Welsh Champs sooner, but I come away from it slightly embarrassed if I’m honest. I went down with Ryan the day before as he was doing the TT too. Around the HQ I was surrounded by girls much stronger than me and I started to wonder what I was letting myself in for. Some might not be staying around for the road race the following day, but I still felt I was in a little too deep.

Phil Bulkeley Photograhpy

I entered Welsh Road Champs thinking we’d be going round the course on our own. Getting to the start line I found out we were starting with the Veteran men. Needless to say I got dropped 5 miles in…

But I still can’t work out if it was bad luck or me just being a tactical numpty.

Had I just sat behind the wrong people, or was I just not fit enough to be in the race?

When the race convoy passed and a number of women dropped off the back of the field, I couldn’t work out if the race convoy passing meant we weren’t in the race anymore.

I ended up riding round on my own for a lap at a pace I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at before. I wasn’t sure if I could still get to the finish line and place, or if once passed by the broom wagon that was it.

Long story short, I bailed after one lap as I still didn’t have a clue if I was suppose to still be on the course or not. So I finished with a big fat DNF.

When I went to Welsh Champs to at least finish, that was a bit gutting.

To get me out of my grump, Ryan found a race at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. 16 laps in a field of 20 women.

Something I didn’t do for Welsh Champs was warm up, so I made sure to chuck the turbo in the car for Darley Moor. I may have only loosened my legs for 10 minutes, but it definitely made a difference.

My headphones and turbo just get me in the right mindset for racing.

Whatever race I go to now, I need to make sure I’m armed with my turbo to warm up. I could use rollers…but I definitely haven’t mastered them yet! Maybe I should work on that over winter!

The field was strong whilst we were on the track and I was just hoping I could stay on the back of the group!

A far cry from what I ended up doing at Pimbo a few weeks ago ha!

After getting too carried away in the corners and seeing how far I could lean my bike over, we were soon on the finish straight in a bunch sprint.

I still don’t know what position I finished, but I finished…which was an improvement on Welsh Champs.

I even finished the weekend with a loop I made up as I went along, which ended up being a hilly ride to start with, then levelled out a bit. I felt weirdly good on the bike.

How have you got over races you’ve performed badly at?

#GirlsAtMarshTracks – What You Need To Know

If you’ve been following me on social media you’ll know the next event I’m organising is #GirlsAtMarahTracks. A day of crit racing for women at the North Wales’ closed cycling circuit, Marsh Tracks in Rhyl.

I’ve not been road racing (or road cycling!) long, but it’s clear to see that women’s road races are hard to come by, which can be understandable when they’re not always the easiest of races to fill to make them viable to run. But I’m taking the jump and doing a full day of women’s racing anyway!

For anyone new to road or crit racing, what does this all mean?!?

First off…Criterium Racing,

More commonly known as ‘crit racing’, this is essentially closed circuit racing, whether that be on closed roads or closed circuit. You race for a certain amount of time, then so many laps after that. For example, the 4th Category race is racing for 40 minutes plus 5 laps. So as soon as you reach 40 minutes you know you’ve got 5 laps left! You’ll know you’ve got to the 40 minute mark as a board will appear at the finish line counting down from 5 until the last lap is indicated by a bell!

But what do all the race categories mean?

I’m not going to lie, the race categories alone can be enough to put you off giving racing a go! The senior women’s races are either the E/1/2/3 or the 4th Cat.

E/1/2/3

How road racing works with British Cycling is you buy a licence and depending on where you come in race you can get points, eg you win a race and get 10 points. Over the course of the year these points can build up and a certain amount of points will mean you move up at category. For example, I’ve been chasing 12 points this year to go from 4th Category to 3rd Category. I’m nowhere near, but you get the picture!

To put it all into context, I’m a 4th Category rider and I’ve just started road racing. The women racing in the OVO Energy Women’s Tour are in the Elite category, so ‘E’.

4th Category

If you’re new to racing then the 4th Category race is the one for you! You can enter with a day licence and give racing a go! 4th Cat is also for those chasing those 12 points to get to bumped up to 3rd Category if you already have a British Cycling race licence.

So, how do you go about entering the 4th Cat race if you don’t have a British Cycling race licence? To put it simply, you need to enter on the day by paying for the entry to the race and for a day licence.

Day Licence Fees

The 4th Cat race is a Regional C+ categorised race. If you’re a:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £10.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £5.

Obviously if you have a British Cycling race licence you won’t need a day licence, you just need to check what race category you are and enter the correct race accordingly.

For Junior and Youth riders it works slightly differently. If you’re child is under the age of 16 they will be a Youth rider and therefore a day licence will only cost £1.50.

Over the age of 16 will class them as a Junior rider and they can race in the 4th Category race with a day licence. These will follow the same guidelines as the adult prices, but be half the price. So:

– Bronze British Cycling Member, Ride British Cycling Member or not a member of British Cycling, a day licence will cost £5.

– Silver or Gold British Cycling Member, a day licence will cost £2.50.

You won’t be able to sign up online if you need a day licence, so just drop me a message if you’re planning on racing so I can get an idea on numbers! Drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com.

What bike can you ride?

For various safety reasons, British Cycling stipulate what bikes can and can’t be used in road and circuit racing. For the senior races, so 4th Cat and E/1/2/3, a drop-bar road bike will only be allowed to be ridden in the races. Working gears and brakes are a must too! Don’t forget to check the tyre pressures, high tyre pressures make pedallig so much easier!

A drop bar road bike looks something like this…

These rules apply for the Under 16 and Under 14 races also, but allow cyclocross bikes to. Drop bars are a necessity though.

When it comes to the Under 12’s, 10’s and 8’s, British Cycling allow any type of bike to make it easier for younger riders to have a go! I must say these bikes have obviously got to have working brakes and be in good working order. Again, for safety during the races.

What category will my child race in?

Have a look at the details below,

Under 16 if born in 2002 or 2003

Under 14 if born 2004 or 2005

Under 12 if born 2006 or 2007

Under 10 if born 2008 or 2009

Under 8 if born 2010 onwards

The obvious need for the Under 8 category is that your child can confidently ride a bike. British Cycling also stipulate gearing restrictions to protect young riders from using big gears that could be harmful to them. (ie too strenuous!) If you have any queries on gearing restriction or if your child can race, have a read of this document by following the link, or contact British Cycling via the details in this link:

Youth Gear Restrictions: A Guide for Riders and Parents

Facilities

From racing various cycling disciplines, I know facilities at cycling races can sometimes be an issue, so I just wanted to highlight Marsh Tracks has toilets and changing facilities.

For more information about #GirlsAtMarshTracks keep monitoring my social media pages and website for more blog posts! Thank you to everyone who has helped with the event so far, especially Cyced for designing the poster! You’ll be able to find out more about Cyced with a blog post that will be posted in the next few days.

Cyced: Where rides become cycling art

I’m also working with Andy from SDS Graphics on some stickers you’ll be able to take home with you! SDS Graphics have been supplying vinyl graphics and designs in the motorsport industry for 25 years. His vinyl graphics can be seen on Formula 1 cars, British Touring Cars and many others. So you’ll have F1 standard stickers you can put on your bike, to remember that time you took part in a day full of women’s crit racing.

I’ll drop some other useful links below, but if you feel like you can’t keep up to date on social media with the event drop me an email at lifeandbikesblog@gmail.com and I’ll email you any updates!

Facebook Event Page

British Cycling Event Page (you can enter via this link!)

Marsh Tracks Website

If you’re a company who fancies getting involved with the event, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch!