Gabby Day on the mud chute, followed by teammate Krasniak © Todd Prekaski
by Molly Hurford
When Gabby Day first arrived in the US a year and a half ago, she walked through customs at the Philadelphia International Airport lugging a giant bike bag and a huge Scott duffel along with her. She tossed them in the back of my pickup truck; it was the first time we’d met. Adam Myerson had put us in touch, and she was coming to stay with my parents in New Jersey for the first leg of her East Coast tour, her first time racing in the States. She was largely unsupported, and she didn’t know anyone.
Flash forward to today, and you won’t find Day staying on air mattresses in spare rooms or hauling her own bike bags (most of the time). The Rapha-Focus rider is fully supported, salaried, and perhaps most important to her, engaged and about to move to the US full-time. How the times have changed!
But Day remains the same fun-loving and self-professed girly-girl she was when we first met, so when we finally had a chance to catch up over coffee, conversation started with nail polish and wedding dresses before we even considered beginning the interview process. But for those less interested in how well gel nail polish works (fantastically, in case you were wondering — and I write that as someone who’s gone out for manicures with Day on multiple occasions), we did dive into bike-related topics, and what Day’s off-season (floral arrangements and wedding invites aside) is shaping up to be.
But first: what happened at Worlds? “At Worlds, I was in that crash about 200 meters off the start, so that was my race. After that, I was just riding around on my own. But I had amazing support from everybody and that’s what kept me going.”
“I’d love to have Worlds in America again,” she added, and when I joked that it would be like a race on her home turf, she nodded. “That’s what it feels like now.”
“After that, Jeremy [Durrin, her fiancé] went to California for team camp and I decided I needed something fun to do,” Day explained. “So I went to Portland and spent nearly two weeks with my teammate Julie Krasniak. So I did some group rides, and saw the West Coast. I loved it. It was very different. Very, very different.”
“So I did that, and ate what I wanted. Including donuts, which I’d been craving all season.” The next question was obvious: did she go to VooDoo Donuts, the Portland bastion of donut deliciousness? “I did! I was lucky there wasn’t a massive line. I was told about the maple bacon donut but I didn’t have it.”
Here, I expressed shock: Day loves bacon.
“I know! Me and bacon! But for some reason I didn’t. I just had a raspberry one.”
Back in base training, Day is pleased to be riding in Western Massachusetts with some of the fastest men in New England, though mid-April she heads back to the UK for a couple of months.
This summer, Day will be racing road, a switch from her normal MTB training, for the Matrix Fitness Academy, a team run by Stefan, the husband of Day’s competitor, Helen Wyman. “Last year I was doing mountain biking but I wasn’t able to commit to the full national series because of my time here this summer. But Stef’s team works out for a crit series and some road racing and I’ll still get to do some mountain biking as well. Crits are really good for ’cross, and I’ll still do mountain biking but not as much as last year.”
And the biggest thing for Day this summer won’t be a race, or a ride, but a wedding. “I’m very excited,” she beamed. “I have my dress already. The best time to have it was right before ’cross season, and it will be amazing. Then there will be three Durrins in racing. Durrin domination!”
However, while Day will marry an American, she’ll still continue to race for the UK, and is planning on becoming a dual citizen. Even racing for the UK, though, Day plans to spend more time in the US racing next fall, and plans to move here permanently after the wedding.
“I would love top fives in World Cups. I was doing well this season, consistently getting top 10s when I wasn’t crashing or getting sick. That’s my goal for next season, along with winning some races in the US, maybe not let them all go Helen [Wyman]‘s way. And I’d love to have a great ride at Worlds.”
The last thing I had to ask: “When you came here two years ago, did you ever imagine it would end up like this?”
“No! I was saying to Jeremy, the way things have happened, I never could have imagined. I had never even been to America!”