Monday, February 26, 2018

Women Involved Series: Kate Courtney

Hi! My name is Kate Courtney and I am a Professional Mountain Bike Racer for the Specialized Factory Team. I started racing as a freshman in high school through the NorCal League in California and never looked back.

Over the past few years, I have had the incredible opportunity to race around the world in the UCI MTB World Cup series and continue to chase bigger and bigger goals in the sport.


I graduated from Stanford University in 2017 with an undergraduate degree in Human Biology and am excited to spend the next few years focusing full time on my cycling career. Off the bike, I am a big lover of waffles, dogs and anything that involves being outside!


Tell us about the introduction to your #bikelife and how it has influenced you-
I was introduced to cycling by my dad. Growing up, we spent weekends riding a tandem bicycle up Mount Tamalpais. It never occurred to me that cycling was such a big competitive sport and I wasn’t introduced to racing until high school. I think this introduction has had a big impact on me. I fell in love with the sport because I loved riding bikes with my dad. No matter where racing takes me, I can always come back to that and remember why I love what I do.

What was your motivating factor for getting into bike racing?
I began riding mountain bikes with my high school team as cross training for cross country. I was a dedicated runner at the time and was looking for a way to stay in shape in the spring. At the time, I had no idea I would fall in love with the sport and community and never look back.

For folks on the fence about participating in a cycling event, why should they try it at least one time?
In my experience, nothing brings people together like cycling! It is a sport that is accessible to so many people of different ages, skill levels and with different goals. I think it is pretty magical to be a part of that community by participating in an event. It is an opportunity to push yourself but in an environment filled with supportive people that share a love for the bike.
What were some handling skills that challenged you (or still challenge you?) Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
When I first started racing in World Cups, I was shocked by how technical the courses were. I struggled to ride the A lines and was particularly scared of big drops. I was able to start working with a skills coach and develop tools to attack harder and harder features. For example, in developing the skills to go off bigger drops - we started with extremely little ones (I’m talking curbs!) and practiced the techniques. That way, when I arrived at a bigger feature with more fear, I knew I had the skills to ride it.

What do you love about riding your bike?
It’s hard to pick just one! I love being able to explore the world on two wheels and spend time with like-minded people out in nature. I also love that cycling never fails to give you opportunities to challenge yourself. Early on, my goals might have been to ride a feature on a local trail or be able to do longer rides. Now, those goals have progressed, but still pose the same type of challenge. There is a way forward for everyone!

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I am so lucky to ride for Specialized and get to be on what I think is the best equipment in the sport. I ride the new Epic full suspension and the Epic HT hardtail during the race season although I also spend a lot of time on my road and cross bikes for training. My favorite bike would have to be my new 2018 Epic from World Champs. It is hot pink, sparkly, extremely light and one of the best handling bikes I have ever had the pleasure of riding. It was a great bike for world championships and I have been riding it ever since!
Looking back on the past year, what did you learn about yourself during the race season and why will that help you next season?
I learn a lot about myself from every race. Over a season, that can really add up! I think one of the most important things I practiced and learned a lot about was the idea of balancing expectations with believing in yourself. It is hard to both believe that you can win and manage your expectations if things don’t fall into place perfectly from the beginning. At world championships, for example, I crashed in the first few minutes. I believed I was capable of winning, but I had let go of expectations and was really in the moment. Instead of being completely discouraged, I was able to fight back and walked away with a silver medal. It is a constant battle to both push yourself forward towards bigger and bigger goals while meeting yourself where you are at this moment, right now.

What are you looking forward to for the 2018 season?
I am looking forward to the move to Elite! It is going to be a big step up for me and will be full of new challenges. This offseason I have definitely felt very motivated by the opportunity to race in the Elite World Cups next year and it will definitely keep me training hard.

What do you feel could change industry-wise or locally to encourage more women to be involved?
I think there are a lot of ways to get women involved in cycling. One of the biggest ways, in my opinion, is through other female riders. Being able to go out and ride with other women really made my introducing to the racing scene really fun. Likewise, I see a lot of women just getting into the sport who really enjoy female companionship and encouragement out on the trails.



What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
I hope to encourage everyone to ride - regardless of gender. I think the bike is a really amazing tool to connect people and push them to be their best selves.

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
Random Fact: My spirit animal is the shark!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Josie!! This is a great interview. Shelbi loves Kate Courtney. Kate is a great role model for the little ones and we can't wait to see her on Red Bull TV racing.

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