Photo Credit: Sportif Images
These days it can feel like it's hard to find a hero. Someone you can believe in, look up to and root for. And usually I'm not one to build pedestals but Katie Compton fits the bill. She's smart, funny, insanely talented on the bike and she's works very hard at getting results. Like 11 National Cyclocross Championships. And there have been other podiums and we could talk about tire pressure and tires and brake preferences but I thought it would be more fun to get personal.
CF: So one morning at 4:00 a.m. I couldn't sleep so I lay awake thinking about your interview questions. And then I fell back asleep and dreamed that you and I were in Cairo, Egypt together. Which one of those is more awkward for you?
KC: Haha! Honestly, neither one is that awkward for me. That's a normal progression for your mind to wander to if you're thinking of interview questions for me. You must have a strong desire to visit Egypt too? It might only be awkward since that's a trip you should probably take with someone you've spent time with? Although I'm sure we would have a great time. And that is definitely the first time I've been asked a question like that!
CF: In one of the magazine articles I read about you it said that you took time off from riding last year. What did you do during that time? In your off time do you run or lift weights? Zumba? Yoga? Is this something you plan to replicate for 2015?
KC: Yeah, I don't plan to do that again. It was mainly due to being sick or injured and I didn't have a choice. I find that the older I get the more I need to stay in shape and be consistent. I did quite a bit of trail running, running hills and doing sprints. I also did the incline in Manitou Springs quite a bit. I do Pilates and yoga but don't lift weights. I put on weight super easily, so every time I get in the gym, I get bigger which isn't very helpful for bike racing. That said, I do believe lifting weights is really good for you and will probably do that once I stop racing.
CF: I just started racing 'cross last year and so I'm secretly looking for training tips. Do you run or do interval sprints?
KC: I do run and do sprint intervals. I also do the incline and run sprints up it when I'm getting ready for the season. I think running is a nice alternative to riding your bike and it's great when you are short on time or when the weather is too bad. CX racing is still mainly riding your bike so if you have a choice to do one or the other then go ride.
CF: And speaking of training... last year I goaded Georgia Gould into give me a training plan for Beti Bike Bash. What can you say to the women who are racing this year in the Beti for their first race ever?
Photo Credit: Sportif Images
KC: Try to ride your bike as much as you can within the couple months leading up to the race. Ride hard when you feel well and easy when you're tired. Riding consistently is always good and that means 4 or more days a week for 1-2 hours at a time if you can manage. Getting some longer rides (2-4 hours) in on the weekends or with friends is good training and can be more fun too. Make sure to ride a little less and get more rest during the 2 weeks prior to the race so you are recovered for it. Make sure you drink water in your bottles and have a gel handy during the race if needed and some food like an energy bar or banana before the race so you top off your energy stores if you had breakfast 3hours before the start. That race is usually pretty hot so make sure to be hydrated at the start. Get there at least 2 hours before your start so you're not rushing around, leave time for a warmup and or course pre-ride so you know what's in front of you. Have fun and chat or try to meet as many ladies as you can, they're some really cool mtb women out there. My best girlfriends are also bike riders or racers and I love the fact that we have that in common and can go ride together and push and support each other.
CF: Speaking of the first time ever, can you remember your first podium at a UCI race. Does it ever get old?
I can't really remember it but I think it was probably cross Nat's in Portland when I won my first national championship. That's the one that stands out for me since it was such a great day on the bike and my first major result. And no, winning never gets old!
CF: And speaking of podiums, tell me what it was like to compete with Karissa Whitsell. What was it like to compete in the paralympics? What did you take away from that experience?
KC: It was great, we raced really well together and I had a lot of fun being on the Para team. I would do it again for sure if I have the opportunity. Competing in the Para is just like able bodied only slightly better since the camaraderie is better and the racing environment just seems more friendly in general. The riders on the team when I was on it were also pretty rad people and I enjoyed all the times we spent together training, racing and traveling. Riding a tandem well and in sync with another rider is a pretty amazing feeling too, so fast, smooth and fun. That part I miss. Racing the tandem got me back into racing bikes in general and renewed my love for it so Para's was an integral part of where I am now. I think my biggest take way from that experience was learning that adversity isn't always a bad thing unless you let it be.
CF: I've ridden Trek bikes for YEARS and my current 'cross bike is the Trek Crockett. What can you tell us that might convince a woman (or a man) to check out that bike?
KC: I put a lot of thought and effort into the development of that bike and Trek really worked with me to design a great racing machine, both the Crockett and the Boone are great bikes that everyone will enjoy riding. When developing the geometry for the bikes, I wanted to put the rider in a powerful position, eliminate toe overlap on the smaller sizes, I wanted the bike to handle quickly but also go in a straight line through sand and mud, carve a turn but have enough pedal clearance to pedal early out of turns, and be predictable exiting corners. I also wanted it to be compliant and responsive and simply fun to ride. I think we did that with the Crockett and the Boone. Anyone, female or male, tall or short will enjoy riding these bikes. It all just depends on what the rider is looking for in a bike and at what price point. If I had to buy only one bike, I'd get the Boone with disc brakes and electric shifting. Perfect.
CF: 'Cross season for a CAT 4 like me does not last all year long. For me it's about 3 months. Do you take a vacation from training? If so, how do you spend your time? Long walks on the beach?
KC: I usually take a break from training after cross worlds to rest and recover from the season. Sometimes we take a vacation somewhere, but usually I just like to have a stay-cation so I can sleep in my own bed and not pack a bag. Staying home and doing nothing is pretty nice after the long season. I start building up again in mid-March to be fit in September.
CF: Remember that book 'What Color is Your Parachute?' If you're not racing bikes what else would you like to be doing? Besides working at Feedback Sports with Katie Macarelli.
KC: I would love to work with mean Katie at some point, think of the heckling that would go on! And how many baked goods would be brought to the office? We'd all be very fat, but happy! If I wasn't a bike racer, I'd probably be working as a nurse or at least gone down the health care path in some capacity.
CF: Goals for the next few years?
KC: Same as always, world champs and world cups, I'd also like to have a healthy season with a strong body that doesn't get sick or injured. I plan to keep racing as long as I'm enjoying it and racing well.
CF: Can we talk about Mark? Or is he off limits?
How do you balance everything he does for you and your bikes and a good marriage? I mean, does he ever say during an argument "Change your own damn brakes!"?
When you're mad do you ever feel like skipping his pit and going to the next one?
KC: Of course we can...Honestly, we find it pretty easy to balance our life with the bike racing and the roles we both have in our marriage/partnership. We've been best friends since early in our relationship and it just gets better with time. We like the same things, enjoy the same fun activities and have similar views on almost everything, and I think that makes it easier for us. We definitely have our moments and we do bicker more than most couples (our friends will attest to that), but it works for us and it keeps any disagreements from building into anger or resentment. We're also very honest with our feelings and communicate well, so we're almost always on the same page. I think the fact that we're together 24/7 and have been for almost 10 years now, we've just learned how to compliment each other when things get stressful. When one of us is about to crack from lack of sleep, hunger, fatigue, stress, etc, the other one is there to calm things down. And if we're both in that place after long travel days or being stressed, we've just learned to keep our mouths shut and talk about it after our emotions are back in check. And having a good sense of humor helps things too. It does help that our Rottie, Pixie, hates loud voices or even laughing too loudly, so if we argue, she'll start barking at us and remind us to tone it down.
I do have to say that Mark is a very patient man and loves me more than anything and that definitely helps deal with some of my possibly crazy emotions:) I can't tell you how excited he is for me to go through menopause. My emotions and moods were all over the place when I was going through my thyroid problems so he's gotten a little taste of it, and it was tough on both of us. I think he's already mentally and emotionally preparing for it. Poor guy.
So to answer your question, I've actually never been mad at Mark during a bike race that I can remember. Since racing is my job and one of Mark's is making sure my equipment is dialed so I can do it well, we leave any crankiness at home and just focus on the job at hand so we can get the best result. Once the race is over then we'll deal with any issues.
Anyhow, Mark may have a different answer to that question, but you'd have to ask him! He could just hide his emotions better. He does get cranky doing bike work because there is just so much of it, but we've worked it out so I do all the cooking and he does all the bike work and that balances out ok. All the other chores and normal life stuff we try to split between the two of us.
CF: Last but not least, what piece of advice do you wish you could go back and give your young self? Does NOT have to be bike related.
That's a tough one, I've had really good direction and advice from my parents and older friends my whole life and been lucky and fortunate to make good decisions for the most part, or at least my bad decisions didn't get me into trouble! As I think back, I wish I had more advice on proper nutrition from a young age. My Mom was super healthy but I just loved junk food. I was a chunky kid, even though I was always active and athletic. I just wish I started eating healthier sooner. I just loved pizza, donuts, buffalo wings and Old Bay fries (east coasters know what those are) a little too much.
Thanks Katie! All of us wish you the best of luck and hope that you and Mark have a great year!
Note from Cheri: Katie is great. So approachable and nice. All of us including young women getting into the sport of racing 'cross are lucky to have someone to watch race at such a high level. I appreciate that she took the time to answer my questions. And I'm secretly hoping that she'll get tired of one of her bikes and give it to me. However, I am not holding my breath.
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