Kathy Sherwin at Raleigh's Midsummer Night's Cyclocross

Kathy Sherwin taking first place at Raleigh's Midsummer Night's Cyclocross. Photo Courtesy of Kathy Sherwin

by Molly Hurford

Kathy Sherwin has been popping up on our radar at Cyclocross Magazine quite a bit this past month. First, she took a stunning fourth place in US MTB Nats in the Short Track competition at Sun Valley, Idaho, directly behind one of our past Women’s Wednesday ladies, Georgia Gould. Then, she went on to win the Raleigh Midsummer Night’s Cyclocross Race in Washington. She’s been traveling all over the US (and Europe) this summer during mountain bike season, but she’s still planning a full cyclocross season, and with US Cyclocross Nationals in January, pro cyclocross racers have a monumental task of gearing up for a five-month-long season. This is particularly daunting for racers like Sherwin who have already put in a full season in another discipline. For some, it’s road, but for Sherwin, off-road is the way to go. She finally stopped pedaling long enough to answer a few questions for us, and will finally be enjoying some between-season downtime after one more race, of course.

Cyclocross Magazine: How has racing in the “offseason” been going thus far?

Kathy Sherwin: The mountain bike season has been great, which is so nice to say because I had a few years there when I was dealing with very sick parents which sadly affected everything. It feels good to be me again. It also doesn’t hurt that I have incredible support from Stan’s NoTubes this year!

CXM: Best race results so far?

KS: I’ve had a lot this summer.

  • 4th US MTB Short Track National Championships (Sun Valley, ID)
  • 1st Utah State MTB Championships (Park City, UT)
  • 1st 24 Hours Old Pueblo MTB (Tucson, AZ)
  • 2nd Overall Andalucía 6 day MTB Stage Race (Spain)
  • 2nd Pro XCT Super D (Nordic Mtn, WI)
  • 8th Pro XCT Cross Country (Nordic Mtn, WI)
  • 6th Pro XCT Short Track (Fontana, CA)
  • 6th Pro XCT Short Track (Nordic Mtn, WI)
  • 2ndDealer Camp Dirt Gran Prix Short Track (Park City, UT)
  • 1st Raleigh’s Midsummer Night’s Cyclocross Race (Roselyn, WA)

CXM: What’s your next big race goal for summer?

KS: The big goal for the mountain bike season was to podium at US MTB Short Track National Championships, which I can happily say I made happen (4th)!

CXM: Season plans/goals for Fall?

KS: I am going to take some down time at home right after the Montana ProXCT and then work my way back into fitness in time to hit the September ’cross races. The big main goal is to make the Cyclocross Worlds Team.

CXM: How will you prep for the cyclocross season?

KS: By gauging things very carefully. It is going to be tricky this year trying to go into the season hot and end it hot too. I am lucky enough that I know my body well and can tell when it’s begging for rest. That might come in handy in the upcoming five month long ’cross season.

CXM: What’s a typical week look like for you (training and race-wise) during the season?

KS: I don’t put in as much time as one would think you need to in order to be at the Elite level. But, it really works for me – everyone is different. Typical a week with racing Saturday and Sunday on each end would be getting some good recovery in and traveling home, then blasting everything out that settled into the legs mid week, a travel day to the next race and then checking the course out that Friday and then repeat, repeat, repeat. But of course I don’t forget to work in a rest week of No Racing as well.

CXM: How long have you been riding/racing?

Kathy Sherwin shows her MTB roots in the US MTB Nats Single Track Race. Photo Courtesy of Kathy Sherwin

Kathy Sherwin shows her MTB roots in the US MTB Nats Single Track Race. Photo Courtesy of Kathy Sherwin

KS: I started racing as a Beginner mountain bike racer in June of 2000 because I kept seeing the NORBA races come to the resort I was working at (Deer Valley Resort). I turned Pro and got my first pro contract with SoBe/Cannondale in 2003, which is also when I started dabbling in cyclocross on my mountain bike.  I finally committed to the cyclocross circuit full time in 2007.

CXM: What’s your favorite part about cyclocross compared to the other cycling events you do?

KS: The short, fast, technical courses. Pinning it from the gun til your eyeballs pop.  The atmosphere — I have never experienced an eardrum blow out like I did at last year’s Nationals in Bend at the top of the stairs. Cyclocross courses are just simply a playground for adults – what’s not to love?

CXM: What kind of bike do you ride, and for which team will you be riding this fall?

KS: I will be riding Ridley X-Fires this year. I’m super stoked as I was on Ridleys last year and had one of my best seasons to date. There is nothing like the confidence of having a bike that you already believe in and know excels in every way. I will be continuing on with NoTubes for the cyclocross season, with a super team roster. Cyclocross Magazine is getting the scoop here — powerhouse team roster and formal press release to be announced shortly.

CXM: Any thoughts on Madison next January?

KS: Kah-kah-kah-cooooold. But really, who knows what you are going to get….OK….kah kah kah cold!

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?

KS: It’s fun to hang with a bunch of gals that don’t mind getting filthy. As for the second question, it’s hard to say, but it seems like top efforts get top results in both categories.

CXM: When you first started racing, how did it feel being a woman entering a male-dominated sport?

KS: I never thought twice about it. I have always had plenty of male buddies growing up, did tons of sports and was a ski instructor and ski patroller for many years. Everything I have done my whole life has been male-dominated. I think I am used to it.

CXM: Do you think there are more women in cyclocross now than a few years ago?

KS: Yes! It is so great to see. Our local Utah Cyclocross Series has grown in a big way with way more women lining up for the races now than even just a few years ago.

CXM: Do you feel like there are any sexist attitudes in the sport? (from officials, male racers, press, etc.)

KS: In most areas it’s not the norm, but when it comes to race reports there can be an uneven amount of coverage with men getting a lot more than women. Cyclocross Magazine and a couple of others, on the other hand, have been really good at covering both men’s and women’s events.

CXM: Did you feel like it was harder to develop yourself as a pro cyclist because you were female? (getting lucrative sponsors, etc.)

KS: No, I feel if anything held me back it was myself. Whether it was not pursing contracts and being my own marketing agent like you have to be in this sport or just trying to cope with the rough patches in the right way. I’m pretty lucky to live in the Park City area where there are many tools just under my finger tips.

Kathy Sherwin (left) on the podium at the Dealer Camp Dirt Gran Prix STXC

Kathy Sherwin (left) on the podium at the Dealer Camp Dirt Gran Prix STXC

CXM: What message would you pass on to young girls who are interested in the sport?

KS: Take everything slowly, race when you feel like it and do other things when you want. As long as you are keeping it real and having fun, you will go a long way.

CXM: What’s the best training advice you have for women entering the sport?

KS: Recovery is so underrated.  You must take recovery days – those are the days that make you faster.

CXM: Any racing tips for new women?

KS: Get to the venue earlier than you think you should, stay WARM and get a good warm up in. Ask lots of questions and practice your technique and skills weekly.