Some young athletes fall in love with cyclocross the first time they try it. Others, well, it’s a good thing they have perseverance. Missoula’s Disa Doherty falls into the latter camp in that regard.
“It was the worst thing ever. I was on such a heavy bike, and I was super slow.”I was like, ‘Uh, I hate this, and I’m never doing it again,'” Doherty said about her first cyclocross experience. “Then a year later I had a lighter bike and did it again and decided it was actually pretty fun.”
After sticking with cyclocross and coming to love it, Doherty was one of the Montanans at the 2019 Women’s Montana Cross Camp last week. Joining her was another Missoulan in Elsa Westenfelder. The two are friends and competitors, pushing each other to get better at ’cross.
“It’s usually us in the top two in all the races. She’s definitely helped me be more mature because we have a healthy competition every race we do,” Doherty said.
Doherty’s athletic background is a bit unique among bike racers. Cross country, skiing and soccer all seem to be popular cycling off-season sports for young athletes. Doherty’s off-season choice? Hockey.
A front-line skater, Doherty said the lower body fitness translates well between the two sports, although she admitted she was not using any body checking skills during the passing drills during Wednesday’s on-the-bike session.
Doherty also looks outside cycling for inspiration from other athletes. In recent weeks, she was busy watching the USWNT soccer team win the 2019 World Cup and drawing inspiration from one of the team’s players.
“She doesn’t do cyclocross, but Megan Rapinoe,” Doherty said about her favorite athlete. “I think she’s just a really cool person. She speaks up for what she believes in and doesn’t take any crap from anyone.”
I had to ask, will she be dying her hair pink anytime soon? “No,” Doherty quickly responded.
You can catch my full conversation with Disa Doherty in the video below.