Teal Stetson-Lee takes the barriers in stride © Mark Colton

Teal Stetson-Lee takes the barriers in stride © Mark Colton

In the 2011-2012 season, Teal Stetson-Lee made it on to the cyclocross radar as a big name in women’s ’cross. With quite a few podium finishes and a win on Day 2 of Jingle Cross, this young rider’s star is on the rise. We caught up with her about her “off-season” and what she loves most about cyclocross.

Cyclocross Magazine: What team will you be on this Fall and what bike will you race on?

Teal Stetson-Lee: For the fall of 2012, I will be racing for the Luna Pro Team on an Orbea Terra TDR.

CXM: How much time do you spend on your cyclocross bike in the offseason?

TSL: I usually start my specific cyclocross training on the bike mid-August (though I try to never pass up an opportunity to do a race just for fun, even if it is early or mid-summer). The rest of the year, my focus is on racing mountain bikes, which conveniently provides great preparation for the cyclocross season.

CXM: How long have you been racing?

TSL: I have been racing cyclocross for five years, three collegiate and two professionally.

CXM: How did you get into cyclocross?

TSL: I started cyclocross through my college cycling program, Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. I tried it out just for fun, following a successful collegiate mountain bike season and I loved the novelty of it. I had never participated in any kind of bike riding that was so refreshingly ridiculous and challenging all at the same time.

CXM: Best part of cyclocross for you?

TSL: There is no other cycling discipline like it. It is so much fun because of the obstacles and the technical challenges on and off the bike and the crowds and spectators create a fun, wild environment full of positive energy.

CXM: Proudest cyclocross moment?

TSL: My proudest moment in cyclocross was when I won collegiate Nationals in 2010. I had a great lead and then had a really bad mechanical on my final lap, my rear derailleur got ripped off in the mud and I had to run the final half mile to the finish line carrying my bike. I managed to still squeak into first place by only 15 seconds.

CXM: Favorite thing to do after a race?

TSL: I love chatting with other racers about how their races went. It can be so much fun comparing notes about the challenges and victories we all go through. Cyclocross is an amazing sport for camaraderie.

CXM: Advice for people just getting into the sport?

TSL: Don’t take yourself too seriously, cyclocross will suck you in if you just let go a little bit. And you will also get faster and stronger the more you enjoy it.

CXM: Where would you like to see the sport go?

TSL: I would love to see the sport become as popular in the US as it is in Europe and I would love to see more women get involved in cyclocross.

CXM: What’s it like racing in the women’s field with such a broad spectrum of age ranges?

TSL: It is wonderful having the depth of experience, talent and age in the women’s field; it makes all of us better. Also, for me, as one of the younger female cyclists, I feel so fortunate to get to race with other women who I can learn so much from.

CXM: Is cyclocross your main focus?

TSL: Both cyclocross and mountain biking are my main focuses. I think that both cycling disciplines compliment each other.

CXM: Do you have another job?

TSL: Yes, I work part time for a non-profit tobacco prevention organization out of my local Health Department.

CXM: Best pre-race song to listen to?

TSL: Blackbird blackbird Hawaii Niva Remix is a regular for me, but I also love anything with a good beat.

CXM: Little known fact about you?

TSL: I used to be a wild-land firefighter

CXM: Most embarrassing bike moment?

TSL: One time near the beginning of my cycling career, I put new cleats on my shoes really loose, because the old ones had been such a pain to get off. As a result, the cleats spun in the shoes and I was unable to clip out when I came up to the first stop light on my ride. I fell over in the turning lane and still couldn’t clip out, there was a whole line of cars behind me honking at me when the light turned green and I still couldn’t get out or stand up and, out of pure panic, I finally yanked so hard I pulled on of the cleats clean out of my shoe and freed myself. I was so embarrassed, I just went home. I didn’t even have the confidence to go for the rest of my ride after that. Sometimes we all have to learn things the hard way, I definitely know how to tighten my cleats now.

CXM: What’s your ideal ’cross course?

TSL: I love muddy, technical courses with lots of turns, it always makes things more interesting.

CXM: Best pre- and post- race food?

TSL: Before I race, I love granola and bananas and a Clif shot. Afterwards, I love anything that replenishes me like pizza and protein but I’m flexible.