Covered in blood, concealing Olympic ambitions
by David Evans
Cyclocross Magazine caught up with Amy Dombroski—featured in the women-centric Issue 21—at the Mont-Sainte-Anne UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, where the Telenet-Fidea rider placed 25th. We talked bike racing induced blood loss, plans for the season and Olympic ambitions.
Cyclocross Magazine: So, Amy, you like fat wheels now?
AD: I tried this mountain bike thing a couple of years ago and I was absolutely terrible at it. In the last year I’ve grown a set of balls, or something like that—I’m finally able to handle myself on a mountain bike.
CXM: What made you come all the way to Quebec for a race?
AD: There was a race last weekend five miles from where I grew up, in Catamount, organised by my friend Lea [Davison – Specialized Racing XC] and her sister. They raced today [Davison took a very respectable fifth in Quebec]. Their race had better prize money for the women than the men, and I knew I had to be there for it. Then this happened to be the next weekend so I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just do some mountain biking, I guess’. It turned out alright—top 25 in a World Cup, I’ll take that.
All it cost you is some blood… [Amy had several patches of some still-damp blood on her arms and torso, and some already plum bruises forming around her calves – ed.]
I did a little bit of crashing, yeah. I’m fairly good at it. It’s probably what I’m best at.
CXM: Aren’t you meant to be in Europe?
AD: Yep, team camp is going on right now. The whole team decided that we can train and race at home. Nikki [Harris – UK] can race with her national team and train with Matt [Brammeier – Champion Systems], Sophie [De Boer – The Netherlands] is the same, and I can do some MTB and stay at home. I was supposed to be there for team photos but… they are going to Photoshop me in. I can’t fly halfway across the world for one day of photos. This is total crunch time right now for the season ahead.
On the positive side, I got to come here, I had a great World Cup, a great time in Vermont hanging out with my Dad, a bunch of friends from Colorado came and they raced as well, so I’m happy with what happened.
CXM: Does this change your plans for the season?
AD: Yep. The plan was, originally to stay in Europe after team camp. Since this happened I’m going to start the season here with CrossVegas and Gloucester and some Colorado racing, then not head over to Belgium till October.
The first World Cup is October 20th, later I’ll come back for Boulder Nationals, which is almost hometown [Amy’s brother, who lives and works in Boulder, and she attended at a local ski academy].
CXM: Fans of World Cups have claimed that courses have become too tame. Judging by the amount of blood coming out of you, you probably don’t agree.
AD: It must have been two or three years ago that I went over to Dalby and Offenberg with Crankbrothers Race Club. I thought I could be a mountain biker. Dalby just absolutely broke me. I was in tears, every lap I broke something on my bike, I went through a set of wheels, I broke a saddle off my bike, a set of bars, um, and so I just didn’t know how to ride at all.
I felt like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s like I’m on a downhill course.’ But now I understand how to get my ass behind the saddle so I know how to deal with a few more things. I’ve heard the courses used to be a lot longer and what-have-you, like a death march. It seems like a good compromise at the moment—there is some technical stuff. My crashes were just where I lost focus. If I want to keep better I need to learn how to keep focus—there is not time to just look around on this course. Every time I crashed it was just something coming at me too fast and I dilly-dallyed.
CXM: More mountain bikes in the future, then?
AD: I think so. This last week and a half has been really fun. Hanging out with the MTB crow has been so fun. After last week a couple of the Luna girls hung around, a couple of the Crankbrothers girls hung around, there we were, just eating and training together like a family.
The other thing is, there’s no Olympics for ’cross. You get to the World Championships and that’s it. Since I was a little pup, when I was ski racing, Olympics was it. I always wanted to be a skier, I wanted to be an athlete, I wanted to go to ski at the Olympics. The truth is I was never good enough. If I concentrate and improve on the mountain bike, who knows? It’s something to think about.
CXM: Last thing—how’s the form?
AD: Coming along well. All these girls, they just all came off Nationals and they’re getting ready for Worlds, so it’s a totally different part of the season, but I’m happy. Things are coming along well.