Pint-sized racer Emma White has a lot to be proud of. At 14 years old, she’s already raced and beat a good portion of the women racing in the New England area. And when she races in just her age group, as she did at Nationals this year, she’s a serious force to be reckoned with. Now, she’s in the middle of an intense road season as a junior, but took some time out to answer some questions for us.
Cyclocross Magazine: When you raced at Nationals, you barely had to try to destroy your field: how does it feel being the strongest in your age bracket?
Emma White: I got lucky. I had a great start and was able to continue my effort. I only crashed once and I limited the amount of mistakes I made.
CXM: Have you raced in Europe yet? (And if not, any plans to this season?)
EW: I have not raced in Europe. The farthest east I’ve raced is Gloucester. I would absolutely love to race there in the future.
CXM: What age group will you be racing in next year? Will you still have to race with the B women or can you start racing in UCI races?
EW: I am race age 15 this year. At Nationals I will be racing in the 15-16 race. As for all of the other races, I will race Cat. 3/4 (B Women) in the Verge series and 1/2/3 in the local races in New York. I think I may be able to race UCI races when I am 17.
CXM: Season plans/goals for Fall?
EW: I really enjoy the Verge Series and I am looking forward to racing through January. I would like to place well in the 15-16 category at Nationals.
CXM: There’s a lot of UCI drama going on in New England right now, and it’s seriously impacting the Verge Series and how it’s being run. Will that affect your racing?
EW: I don’t really totally understand that whole situation. I just hope I have the same opportunity to race, and to race a challenging competition.
CXM: How does it feel being a woman in the sport- in particular, a junior woman with very few other girls your age racing?
EW: I really enjoy being a woman in the sport of cyclocross. I know not many girls my age have experienced or ever will experience what I have with this sport. Cyclocross is such an incredible sport; I love being involved with it. Accomplished riders like Kathy Savary, and my teammate, Liz Lukowski have been awesome. I think it would be great to have more junior women racing in New England.
CXM: How do you balance school and racing in the fall? Are teachers understanding?
EW: It is tough to balance school and racing. Most of my teachers understand, some have no idea that I race. I am a good student and I don’t miss too much school. When I do, I try to do my assignments ahead of time.
CXM: What have you been up to in the off-season?
EW: Right now, I am focusing on the road season. I am gearing up for Nationals in Georgia. Throughout the winter, I spent time with my family skiing and horse-back riding.
CXM: How will you train for cyclocross over the summer?
EW: I plan to take some time off during the summer. My brother and I will most likely do some adventure rides on the mountain bikes for fun.
CXM: What’s your absolute favorite part of cyclocross?
EW: That’s an easy one. I really like the people in the sport. Everyone is so awesome!
CXM: What’s a typical week look like for you (training and school and race-wise) during the season?
EW: Usually, a training week for me will look like, a race every Saturday and Sunday. Monday I take off, Tuesday I do plyometrics and running with my brother. Wednesday I usually do some kind of ’cross ride whether it is at my house, a local park, or with my team. Thursday, I spin my legs easy and Friday nights we usually travel.
CXM: What message would you pass on to other girls who are interested in the sport?
EW: When I first started racing ’cross, I really did not like it. I did not think I would ever like it as much as I do now. I would definitely encourage someone to stick with it even though it can be extremely challenging and painful. Tearing it up is super fun!
CXM: Do you find that your friends “get” what you do, or do most of them think it’s strange?
EW: My friends all know that I love racing and how important it is to me. I don’t think they really get it though. Nobody knows what it is like to race ’cross without having done it or at least watched a race. It is so different from any other sport.
CXM: Do you do any other school activities/sports?
EW: My family is very active. We are always doing something exciting. I like horse-back riding with my sisters and my mom. I ski with my family, and mountain-bike ride with my brothers.
CXM: Are you looking forward to getting older so you can race in the 17-18 and U23 fields?
EW: Yes, I am excited for the challenges of racing older, stronger women.
CXM: How does it feel when you race and do great, knowing that you’ve beaten tons of people with much more experience than you?
EW: It gives me a great sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. I know that I am learning a lot from the women I am racing against and I appreciate that opportunity. I also know that all my hard work is paying off.
CXM: What I love about your racing style is that you’re just totally fearless: are you actually scared at some points or how did you develop that style of riding?
EW: I am definitely scared sometimes. However, I know that if I am nervous, it will show. I try to keep calm as much as I can. I also know that in a cross race, the worst thing that can happen in a crash is getting muddy, which I don’t mind at all.
CXM: How long have you been riding/racing?
EW: This year will be my fourth year of racing cyclocross.
CXM: What’s your favorite part about cyclocross?
EW: Beyond the people and the festive atmosphere, I like the technical aspects of the courses. It’s really cool tearing around the course and not knowing what to expect at the next corner. I like challenging myself. I also love the mud.
CXM: What kind of bike do you ride, and who will you be riding for this Fall?
EW: Currently, I’m racing my brother’s old hand-me-down 2007 Redline. I will be riding Challenge tires thanks to Bill Marshall. I will be racing for NYCROSS.com.
CXM: Any thoughts on Madison next January?
EW: It will be exciting. I don’t think the weather conditions will make a huge difference, as long as they have a warm tent or area to warm-up in, and to return to after the race. Two years ago, in Bend, it was eight degrees when my race started. It was really tough. Although the venue was awesome, they didn’t have warming areas for the riders. Madison will nail it.