Category Archives: Interviews

Kat Sweet: Building the Sisterhood of Shred

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Kat Sweet at the I5 Colonnade mountain bike park in Seattle. Photo by Meg Valliant.

Though mountain biking has been a male-dominated sport from the get go, there have always been a small contingent of women along for the ride. Jacquie Phelan, Juli Furtado, Rebecca Rusch, Marla Streb and many others all played pioneering roles in mountain biking’s development. Like them, Kat Sweet‘s mountain bike career has helped break down barriers for women and clear a path for today’s riders, especially in downhill where she was one of just a handful of women racing in those early days.

Sweet’s bike life has spanned nearly three decades of professional racing, freeride competitions, contest promotion, and coaching. These days her focus is on the latter two with her Sugar Showdown contest series for women freeriders and her Sweetlines Coaching business. Specializing in freeride coaching for women and kids, Sweet is working to foster the next generation of mountain biker rippers and grow the “sisterhood of shred.” I spoke with her about her long history in mountain biking, her unexpected foray into coaching, breaking down barriers to entry as a mentor for women riders, and much more.

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Anna Brones: Food, Bikes, and Life Well Lived

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Anna Brones, author of The Culinary Cyclist. (Photo by Luc Revel)

We cyclists tend to think about food a lot. What to eat before a ride, what fuel to bring with during, the perfect recovery meal. On a long ride, I often find myself plotting my exact post-ride meal with at least a quarter of the route still to go. But if I’m being honest, I’m thinking far more about the number of calories I can stuff down rather than the quality of that food.

Anna Brones, on the other hand, cares about quality above all and has written at length on the value of whole, real foods and their connections with cycling. She is an American author and cyclist living in Paris. Her book, The Culinary Cyclist, is part collection of healthy recipes and part meditation on how to live a simple, satisfying life through the intentionality of cooking and cycling. In this interview, Brones discusses her book and the thesis that food and bikes are essential factors for quality of life, her inspiration for writing it, life as a cyclist in Paris, and more.

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Kat Reinhart: The Dirtbagger’s Path to Professional Cycling

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Kat Reinhart time trialing. Photo by Amara Edwards, Wheels in Focus.

The lions of professional sport often have a common narrative to their success: innate talent was discovered early and led to a meteoric rise to the top. But they represent a tiny percentage of the athletes in the pro peloton. For many if not most professional cyclists, however, the success story is one of hard work, struggle, perseverance, some failure enroute, and a whole lot of luck. Kat Reinhart falls squarely in that second path.

Reinhart is a Cat 2 road racer chasing a professional cycling dream. She spent most of the 2014 season living in a 1988 Ford Club Wagon van with her fiancee Nate (also a bike racer), traveling the country to race NRC races–the highest level professional women’s road races in the US. I sat down with Reinhart to talk about her first season racing in the pro peloton, the challenges of making it, the pros and cons of the dirt bag van life, and her cycling career endgame.

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Ed Ewing: Race, Equity, and Empowerment by Bike

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto Courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club. 

Cycling has a reputation for being a white man’s sport, hobby, and transportation. It’s an image rooted in truth—white people accounted for about 80 percent of the cycling population in the US as of 2009—but it’s far from a complete picture. From 2001-2009, the rates of cycling among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians grew far more than among whites. Ed Ewing is working hard to keep that trend going. He is Cascade Bicycle Club’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion and co-founder of the Major Taylor Project, a program that uses cycling to empower underserved youths in the Seattle-area.

I sat down with Ed at his office to talk about his work with the Major Taylor Project, how it got started, his history in racing, racism he’s experienced as an African American cyclist, the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity in cycling and bike advocacy, and much more. Through the course of our conversation, Ed dove deep. He discusses the systemic issues of race and discrimination, policies like neighborhood redlining, and poverty that shape the lives of the students he works with and explains how cycling is connected to all of it. As he says in the interview, it’s always about more than just getting kids on bikes.

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Sam Smith: Making Bike Movies, Waking up Happy

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Photo courtesy of Sam Smith.

Filmmaker Sam Smith is probably best known as the eccentric-looking guy following Jeremy Powers around with a camera for the web series Behind The Barriers. But Sam’s roots in cycling films reach back over a decade. His first film, Transition, centers on the 2004 North American cyclocross season, following the stories of guys like Barry Wicks, Ryan Trebon, Adam Myerson, and Geoff Kabush. He followed up with a sequel to Transition, a short-lived “video periodical” called Cyclofile, before eventually starting Behind The Barriers. And though he’s left Behind The Barriers, Sam is still producing cycling films including the forthcoming Working Dogs and a new episodic series called Acro Velo. Sam and I spoke about his history with filmmaking, his junior years of bike racing, working on Behind The Barriers and his decision to leave, his filmmaking influences, and much more.

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