CXM: You mentioned the market for teams is tight, and that’s a frequent struggle for professional racers. What do you think of the sport’s health in general?
GD: I think it’s pretty good. There’s definitely good opportunities in the sport to make a job out of being a professional cyclocross rider. But I do think it’d be good if there were more teams to give younger riders a place to go. There aren’t too many options for people to move on from being a development rider. That’s why we started our team. Because there wasn’t another option out there.
CXM: What about the current state of women’s racing, here in the US in particular?
GD: One of the things that initially attracted me in 2011 to racing in the US was that I’d heard how good the women’s racing scene was—and it is. It has a lot of depth. The women’s racing scene is strong. You can see it when US women go over and compete in Europe. There’s also more equality in the US when it comes to racing, especially in things like payouts. It just felt good to be in the US because you were treated more equally.
In Europe it’s getting better. And my friend Helen has done a lot to promote women’s racing and raise its profile. They are starting to make changes, and good, positive things are happening. But there’s still a gap there.
There’s a great women’s scene here and the racing is exceedingly strong.
CXM: You mentioned Helen Wyman. Have you spoken with her or your other compatriots about your decision to retire?
GD: Absolutely. Helen and I are really close. We’ve been around each other for many years. So I spoke with her about it and a few others before making the announcement. Those who knew beforehand have all been very supportive and understanding, which has been great.
CXM: You said you hoped this season, likely being your last, would have a positive ending. What’s your takeaway on that now that you’re leaving the sport?
GD: I’ve been doing this for 13 years. Every career has to come to an end. This isn’t the way I envisioned it. But some things you can’t control and you have to do what’s right for you at the time.
CXM: Being married to Jeremy puts you in a unique spot. You’re retiring from racing, but you’re still going to bike races, no?
GD: [Laughing] Yes. I took a month and half completely away, going back to the UK to spend time with family and see what it would be like to be out of the scene and to get a feel for how I felt being away from it all. Being away made me realize I was making the right choice.
Attending races will feel weird for a while. Like last weekend [Ed. Note in Garland, TX at the Resolution Cup] it was this really muddy race and that’s normally my thing. I’ve loved races like that. So it gives me a weird feeling, watching the women and thinking I’d love this course. And I maybe feel like I could jump in. But I know there’s more to it than that.
CXM: Other pros have mentioned that once they are done, they are done. Do you foresee a time when you might jump in a local grassroots race just for fun?
GD: Not in the near future, but yeah. Maybe a year out, maybe more.
This year I went and did the Night Weasels Race on the East Coast. It was after Gloucester. I was really struggling and I thought I’d have some fun. No pressure, just enjoy it. And it didn’t work out. I felt like I wanted to cry the whole way around the race. It made me realize it was time to stop.
But I love riding. And I loved racing. But right now its time for a change. And I love the idea of encouraging young people into the sport.
CXM: About that, what about those new riders, particularly juniors, who are just getting started. What would you say to them?
GD: Just enjoy it. Have fun with it. Don’t put any undue pressure on yourself. If you don’t want to do a race, don’t. When I was young in the sport I had some pressure to race and perform. I think when you’re young it’s important to not have that and to see what other disciplines or other things you like.
CXM: What’s going to happen with Neon Velo?
GD: It will continue and Jeremy will still be riding for them on the road and for cyclocross. I’ve been offered a job with them in marketing and media, so I’ll still be involved and the transition will hopefully be smooth.
CXM: How have sponsors reacted to your decision?
GD: Great. I emailed many of them and Neon Velo and all the other sponsors understand. Many called and spoke with me and they’ve been so supportive. Jeremy too. It makes me happy so it makes him happy.
CXM: [Jeremy Durrin walks in.] What do you think Gabby’s decision?
JD: I think it’s good. I think it’s perfect timing for Gabby. She’s ready for the next step in her career. It’s always scary the though of retirement when you’ve done something for so long. But it’s made her happy, and that’s a good thing.
CXM: What do you think the next part of your career will be like? How do you see yourself not racing?
GD: That’s the hard thing. My identity, who I am, has been “professional bike racer.” So when you decide to move on it’s very scary. That was one reason I was holding back on it. What am I going to be? What am I going to do? Who am I?
JD: But with Gabby still part of the team in an professional, operational position it’s good in that it’s familiar. But it’s still a new step.
GD: It makes for an easier transition out of racing.
CXM: Does making the announcement give you some sense of relief?
GD: Yes. While it was still not official, my mind could wander and I would think, well, maybe…. But with it out there, there’s a sense of completeness.
CXM: Are you still riding, still love cycling?
GD: Yes! I’m still going out riding with Jeremy. I still need to feel active. That’s important to me. I’m always going to love that feeling. You know, life is a book. Every new thing you do is a a new chapter in the story of your life.
Everyone gets to write their own story. I’ve done my “professional athlete chapter.” This is a new chapter for me, an unknown one, and it’s exciting. Change is good.
See Durrin’s blog post about her decision here.