Even in the “off-season,” Georgia Gould is a force to be reckoned with. When we last checked in with her in our first Women’s Wednesday column, we learned that she’s been chasing a win in the Mountain Bike World Cup series, as well as the PROxct series. Recently, she finished in the top 15 at the Dalby Forest mountain bike race, and there’s still a lot of mountain bike racing to be done before the season is over and cyclocross begins. Lucky for us, Georgia had a few minutes to spare to talk to us about this season, her upcoming cyclocross season, and what it’s like to be a pro woman in cycling.
Cyclocross Magazine: How has racing in the off-season been going thus far?
Georgia Gould: So far the mountain bike season has been going really well. I have had a few wins in US races, and I feel like my fitness is only getting better. The World Cups have been a little frustrating for me: I’ve had some bad luck, but I was riding really well in Dalby and Offenburg, and I have no doubt that I could have been on the podium in both races.
CXM: How did Offenburg go for you?
GG: It was going great until I had a mechanical! I was riding in a group of third through sixth, had to spend a few minutes messing with my bike and ended up finishing 20th.
CXM: What’s your next big race goal for summer?
GG: I have a few big goals for this summer. First, win a world cup. I mean come on, it’s about time! Defending my title at the Mountain Bike National Championships is also a big goal, as is the World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.
CXM: Season plans/goals for Fall?
GG: I don’t really have super concrete plans for the fall, the USGP series will definitely be a focus and so will the national championships. My goal is to win all the races I enter!
CXM: How will you prep for the cyclocross season?
GG: By racing mountain bikes … there isn’t really any time off between mountain bike worlds and Cross Vegas, so I usually just carry my mountain bike fitness into the ’cross season.
CXM: What’s a typical week look like for you (training and race-wise) during the season?
GG: Right now I have been racing almost every weekend, which makes my training load pretty light. Usually only one or two hard rides during the week (depending on how fresh I need to be for any upcoming races). During ’cross season, I probably only do one hard training day per week, especially since so many race weekends are doubles. I’ve overtrained before by underestimating the toll that two races takes. I think for ’cross, erring on the side of a little more rest is good. Better to be fresh for the races, so you can really make yourself suffer!
CXM: How long have you been riding/racing?
GG: I started riding mountain bikes in 1999. I think my first race was in 2000. First pro race in 2004. I think my first ’cross race was in the fall of 2003.
CXM: What’s your favorite part about cyclocross compared to the other cycling events you do?
GG: US cyclocross fans! The energy and enthusiasm at the races is great, and people cheering and/or heckling always helps me dig deeper. I like that cyclocross combines fitness, skills and tactics, all in a sub-one-hour race.
CXM: What kind of bike do you ride, and who will you be riding for this Fall?
GG: I ride an Orbea. I will be racing for the LUNA Pro Team this fall.
CXM: Any thoughts on Madison next January?
CXM: How does it feel being a woman in the sport? Especially at the highest levels, do you feel like it’s different than being a male pro racer?
GG: I don’t know, I’ve never been a male pro!
CXM: When you first started racing, how did it feel being a woman entering a male-dominated sport?
GG: I guess I never really thought about racing being male-dominated. Especially mountain bike racing- I think it’s a pretty inclusive sport, and I think ’cross is too (at least in the US).
CXM: Do you think there are more women in cyclocross now than a few years ago?
GG: Absolutely! It has been really exciting to see the women’s fields grow in size and depth of talent. I think the Europeans are starting to take the US ’cross scene a little more seriously after racers like Katie and Katerina showed up.
CXM: Do you see the sport growing for women?
GG: I do. I think the challenge of ’cross is really appealing to a lot of people. It also requires a much smaller time commitment for training and racing and I think that’s what makes it appealing to women who have jobs, families and other stuff they are trying to juggle.
CXM: Do you feel like there are any sexist attitudes in the sport?
GG: Of course there are, but I think for the most part we are beginning to overcome that. Especially in the US. I think in Europe cyclocross racing is still very much a boy’s club- but I think that is starting to change too. In the US, every year it seems like more and more promoters are voluntarily offering equal prize money for the top men and women (something the UCI still does not mandate). And as the women’s fields get bigger and deeper, the racing gets more exciting.
CXM: Did you feel like it was harder to develop yourself as a pro cyclist because you were female? (In terms of getting lucrative sponsors, etc.)
GG: No, I think getting lucrative sponsors is tough if you are a male or female cyclist.
CXM: What message would you pass on to young girls who are interested in the sport?
GG: Come out and try a race. Have fun.
CXM: What’s the best training advice you have for women entering the sport?
GG: Race against the fastest people. Upgrade.
CXM: Any racing tips for new women?
GG: Make sure you get a good warm-up. ’Cross is such a high-intensity effort that if you don’t get a good warm-up you won’t be able to go from the gun. Make sure you get a solid 45 minutes of riding and that you are sweating a little bit. Throw in a few hard efforts to get your legs going.