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!

South Wales Valleys


Despite being a week off, this week has been a whirlwind of being busy! There was always something that needed doing. With that being said, it felt good to switch off for an hour and get out on my MTB. Something I’m not doing a great deal of lately.
I even got to tick off somewhere I’ve wanted to ride for so long…Bike Park Wales. It’s just somewhere I’ve not managed to get to. I wasnMt up for doing anything gnarly. I just wanted to pedal. To be outside and just think of what lay ahead of me. 
However, their network of trails is possibly one of the most complicated I’ve seen. I looked at their map and thought…yeah I’ll just see where the blue signs take me. So I’m not actually sure how I got to the top!

I must admit I was expecting it to be more like Llandegla with lots of XC loops, as well as some downhill tracks thrown into the mix. But it is very much more downhill focused, from my experience anyway. 


The ride up was lengthy and before I knew it after getting to the top, I was at the bottom. Perfect descents for an uplift I guess!

But as I’ve already said, I did want to just go for a pedal. With a Welsh National Time Trial I’ve decided to enter in a few weeks, I need to fit in as much pedalling as I can!

The climb up was good. I’m so used to the gravel tracks at Llandegla, it was nice to ride up some forest ascents for a change. After it was recommended to me by some lovely female mountain bikers, I decided to ride down Terry’s Belly. It was also the longest descent. 

It was a good choice.

It’s far from what I use to ride, but it was just berm after berm after berm. It was a good route to do with:

A) Being on my hardtail

B) Riding alone

Some guys did catch up to me on the way down however, so it was reassuring to not be completely on my own on the descent!

It felt so quiet at Bike Park Wales, I almost forgot it was a Saturday. I’m guessing the uplift was busier!


Despite the confusion on what trail I needed to follow to get to the top (and make sure I stayed on the Blue!), I got to the bottom with a smile on my face. I felt strong on the climbs now I was back on my hardtail. I bet the Juliana Strega I tried a few weeks back through Alf Jones Cycles would have been amazing! 

British National TT Championships, Isle of Man

It’s sometimes the shorter the trip is, the more you remember. You still try to squeeze as much in, but you’re still determined to go back.

No sooner was I being thrown back into my seat at the start of the runway at Liverpool Airport, I was landing in the Isle of Man. That little island in the middle of the Irish Sea. The sea water as blue as anything, and country lanes winding through the rolling fields. It takes us 20 minutes to get from one side of the island to the other. Specifically to … where the British National TT Championships were being held. Ryan was racing and I was just there to wander around with my camera.

DSC_9613

Waiting for his race slot was tense. He was helping the now National TT Champion, Claire Rose, by going in her team car at midday. But he still had the rest of the day to try and occupy himself because it wasn’t like he could even go and ride his bike.

I was stupidly in the Isle of Man without my bike, which is the worst mistake anyone could make by the way! The U23 girls were set up on Turbo-Trainers to warm-up. The women were sorting their race kit. It took me back to when I raced downhill. It made me miss racing…a lot. Maybe I’ll find some Time-Trials that aren’t on Dual Carriageways to try…

The day passed with the results racking up:

Women’s National Champion: Claire Rose

Claire 2.jpg

U23 Women’s National Champion: Anna Christian

U23 Men’s National Champion: Scott Davies

There was only the men’s race left now.

With part of the course going along the coast, that’s where I decided to head. I couldn’t really do much at race HQ so I thought I may as well go and take some photos when Ryan is racing. There was the small task of the 4 mile walk there though. I suppose I could have ran it but without running trainers and a camera in my bag…that wouldn’t have been the best idea!

I’d walked quite away when I asked one of the marshals which was the quickest way to the coast road. They pointed me in the right direction, but then offered to drive me there. Lifesavers! So at the coast much quicker than anticipated, I just needed to find a decent spot to photograph the riders. A tip to myself for next time I’m doing this? Wear more appropriate shoes/clothes. Shorts weren’t the best idea for walking through long grass…

I may also end up on TV in my bright yellow Timberland jacket…o dear!

I managed to find a good spot on a bend called ‘Devil’s Elbow’ and was waiting for Ryan to come past. For some random reason I’d got it in my head his start time was 19.07. It was actually 18.54, so you can imagine me trying to rush to press the shutter when he came past earlier than I’d expected! Thankfully I still managed to get some photos.

DSC_9673.jpg

The hour he was racing was possibly the most tense I had been for a while. The two times he came past (they were doing two laps of the one lap course the women did) I couldn’t figure out whether he felt good on the bike or was struggling.

DSC_9672.jpg

It was a good while before I knew how he’d got on as well with the signal being touch and go on the island. Once he’d come past the second time, I made my way back to the race HQ, which I had to walk this time. It was a pretty long walk with a camera in my bag, but surprisingly I didn’t get lost. My memory of certain roads must be getting better!

When I finally got back to the race HQ I found he’d finished the course in 1 hour 4 minutes, which was exactly the time he wanted to achieve. What a relief! Steve Cummings became the National Champion with a time of 57 minutes and 18 seconds.

We then had the task of finding food at 9 o’clock at night, which isn’t as easy as it sounds! Even the chip shops were shut, but thankfully a Chinese was still open. We clearly have strong athlete diets…ha!

Look out for my next blog post where we explored Peel before having to head back on the ferry (boo!).

#WorkoutWednesday 15th February 2017

img_0006

Lighter evenings are slowly reappearing meaning training outside after work is becoming more doable. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a great fan of being outside, alone and in the dark!

Following a long day stuck inside, the temptation to go for a run outside was too much! I wasn’t sure how far I’d go, but I knew I needed to run!

I’d not done sprints or intervals for a while, so I decided to try a workout that was on my Garmin.

Warm-Up

– 10 minutes of light running.

Workout

– 3 minute sprint

– 1 minute jog

– Repeat 3 times.

Cool Down

– 10 minutes of light running.

I’m not even sure where this session came from. I just came across it on Garmin Connect a few weeks back. I’ll admit it’s not the easiest of things to get through, but 32 minutes of pain can’t hurt nobody right????

Buddy Run


When most were recovering from hangovers, I was somehow dragging myself out of bed to go and run in Llandegla Forest. All for the Wrexham & Chester Tri Club’s joint ‘Buddy Run’.
With a £2 donation to Nightingale House, your name was put into a hat and you were paired with a ‘running buddy’.

I had no idea how it was going to pan out. It was trying to snow…

But off we went up into the forest. It felt rather odd not running by myself really! I’ve just got use to running by myself I suppose.


I’ve been meaning to try the running trails at Llandegla for a while. Country lanes are normally where you’ll find me running, but I loved running in the forest! Plenty of muddy puddles…yes…but it just varied the run a bit more than normal. 

With yummy soup provided by One Planet Adventure to finish, it was a great way to kick off 2017. 


Thank you to everyone who was involved in organising the run and the company I had the pleasure of running with. I’m looking forward to getting back to Llandegla for more running and riding. I’ll hopefully find some great company to run with this year too!

These photos aren’t mine, so thank you to who took them! Hope you don’t mind me using them.

The Shelf

With it being close to two months off the road bike it was definitely time I got back on it.


Not wanting to go too crazy for my first ride on it in a few weeks, we drove over to Loggerheads for a loop on country lanes including one of the top 100 climbs in the UK, named ‘The Shelf’.

However, this loop did involve going down another top 100 climb, Pen Barras. That was steep…very steep. I was thankful to get that descent out of the way…ha! 


On a narrow country lane with moss and debris down the centre. Old stonewall cottages. Bare trees overhanging with their auburn leaves converting the embankments on either side of the lane. We were climbing ‘The Shelf’.

Out of the wood the rolling Welsh hills came into view bordered by weather-beaten barbed wire fences. Ever changing gradients playing havoc with my legs.


A final kick of a climb we hit the top with my hands still toasty and warm thanks to some new Mavic Winter gloves. 


Heading back to the car park through what felt like a totally different world through the quiet villages of North Wales, we’d covered nearly 16 miles with a fair amount of climbing.

Sometimes it’s not about the long miles, but just a short loop to get the legs burning. 

Spinning As A Cyclist

Yesterday I took the jump and joined a gym. With long days in college I found myself coming home and either not doing much or hours of college work. And you might have already guessed it, not much exercise. My productivity drops to nil and a positive mindset goes out the window.

With the dark nights now upon us I’d feel hesitant to go out for a run by myself. My Labrador is only up for a run every now and then…ha! So now I’ve got somewhere to train I’m planning a productive off-season to prepare for whatever I decide to do next Summer. And sort my weak arms out….

Pre & Post Spin…my legs were so tight! Stretching was a must.


With multiple classes at the gym the first one I decided to do was Spinning. I suppose it’s been around for a while now but it’s only now I’m giving it a try. 

Being a cyclist I thought it would be almost second nature, but it just felt rather odd! 

First was the fact I managed to find the most minuscule thing wrong with the exercise bikes. Dodgy ‘bottom bracket’ or axles on the pedals. And it felt like I was the only person who noticed…

Once the class started to pick up I was having a bit of a mare with the resistance on the exercise bike. It either felt too easy or too hard; mainly when we were up out of the saddle. And I’ll avoid the subject of when the instructor wanted me to move my upper body to counts of four. The struggles with the resistance, meant I could not coordinate my legs to upper body whatsoever!

Closer to the end of the 45 minutes, with sweaty palms struggling to alter the resistance, I seemed to slowly figure it all out. Not pushing my hips back must have been what I was doing wrong.

Thankfully I figured all this out before the 3 minute sprint in amongst it all…which hurt…a lot!

If you’re a cyclist and have tried or do Spinning I’d love to hear your experiences of it! Comment on here or my social media accounts. 

A Lesson in Chocolate Labradors


The first two years of owning a chocolate Labrador involved trying to train him to become a mellow and obedient four-legged companion.

The past two years have been accepting the fact that it will just never happen. 

If he wants to go in that muddy puddle … he is going in that muddy puddle … whether you want him to or not.

After one of those never-ending days at work and some cooler weather, Jenson got dragged out on a longer walk than normal. 

In familiar surroundings he was his usual energetic self, followed by being quite timid on a new route we’d found.


Sulking when he accidentally walked over holly leaves and more than happy to see the horses on the other side of the fence. (The horses weren’t so much….)


As soon as we got back to familiar territory he was back to his mischievous self. Listening to his nose rather than me was more important….

Despite all this we’d been on a walk I didn’t even know was there even with it being pretty much on my doorstep. Which is surprising considering we’ve had our crazy hound for four years now.

We were always told chocolate Labradors were the most crazy out of the Golden, Black and Chocolate labs. And I definitely agree …

Confessions of an Amateur Swimmer


Everytime I go swimming everyone seems to know what they’re doing…meanwhile I’m a splashing, out of breathe mess making some attempt at a front crawl.

1. The nightmare of forgetting loose change for the lockers.

Luckily for me, on the one occasion (so far!) it happened to me, it was a quiet ladies only night at the pool meaning I could leave my bag poolside. So after waiting half an hour for the ladies only swimming session to start I didn’t have to go straight back home!

2. Slowly convincing yourself you swim like a squid.

Honestly…my stroke is different every length I do. Hense, I feel like a squid…and probably look like one whilst swimming too…ha!

3. Water in my ears…

Anyone got any solutions for this…it’s probably worse than looking like a squid..ha!

Despite the above training is no longer strength training, riding, runningand repeat. There’s something new in the mix too!

If only I could look less like an out-of-breathe squid…

Double DOMS


How come sometimes your body seems to cope with training rather well…and then other times just decides to pretty much give up? Ha!

I’m nowhere near training as much as I have in the past (yet!) but steadily including more into my week. And this week my body is not a fan. 

A 45 minute strength session on Monday and 25 Welsh hill miles yesterday…I hurt everywhere…ha!

Hopefully it will be worthwhile when I get back on my Downhill bike, because with the way my upper body strength is right now I think riding it would be a hell of a lot of hard work. But I miss it…a lot!