Women on Bikes Series: Janay Camp

My name is Janay Camp and I live in Upstate NY but I am pretty new to this area. I grew up in Alberta, Canada and got here via Northern California. I have my PhD in physics and headed to California for a Post Doc position at Stanford and in 2008 joined semiconductor industry when I started working for KLA-Tencor. I got a road bike after I moved to CA, start of my bike obsession. Love climbing mountains and big challenges like the Death Ride (5 pass finisher in 2009) I met my husband in CA (he is from CO) and he got me into mountain biking and touring. Right after I met him he rode across the US.
 For our wedding I suggested we should ride from CA to CO and get married in Manitou Springs. We did in 2011 and it was awesome! I got hooked on fat bikes in the winter of 2012-13. Now I actually ride mine year round and did RAGBRAI last year on my fat bike; heading back this summer! Riding my bike keeps me happy and loving life - each and every day.

When did you first start riding a bike?
I did ride bikes as I grew up – around the neighborhood with other kids and on family camping vacations. In Graduate school I bought a nicer mountain bike but didn’t really start to ride it till after I graduated and moved to California. The first thing I noticed was all the road bikes. I started riding my mountain bike on the road – riding to work and completing loops on the weekend. I had been officially bitten by the ‘biking bug’ and now wouldn’t think of life without riding J Eventually I saved up and bought my first road bike.

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
Riding my bike (any of them) gives me the balance I need in my life. My job is busy and stressful and riding my bike helps keep my sanity. I like the physical challenge of riding and I enjoy setting goals and working towards them. My husband is a very avid biker and we spend a lot of quality time together pedaling.

What is your favorite competitive or bike riding event?
I love group rides with friends, bike touring, fat bike events that often feature group rides and fun races but if I have to choose a favorite event – RAGBRAI!! A week long party on bikes? Yes please!

What inspired you to start competing?
I rode for quite a while before I ever registered for my first official race. I did do many non-competitive cycling events like century rides to start. I started with a goal for a metric century, then a full century, then a tougher century with more climbing and so on. Even though these events are for fun – I have a competitive spirit so I enjoyed pushing myself further and faster. I have competed in several off road endurance races since moving to NY – Why? I guess I thought – why not? Don’t get me wrong – I get really nervous and I don’t have a ton of races under my belt yet but I’m happy to get out there and do my best.

How have you dealt with nervousness on the mtb trails?
Patience, practice and perseverance! I am an over-analyzer type personality so I was very slow to overcome nervousness. I used to stop and walk around every obstacle on the trail – slowly I started trying more and more. It took some time before I could feel the flow of a mountain bike trail. I signed up for any skills clinics I could find and highly recommend the Dirt Series. I still do get nervous if the trail becomes crazy technical! The most important thing I have learned about this topic is to take it easy on myself. I used to beat myself up inside when I wouldn’t ride things that ‘should be easy’. Smile, have fun, and keep getting out there! Ain’t no shame in pushing :)

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
Fortunately no major issues but I have had many bruises and a few cuts that likely should have gotten stitches. One time I crashed and ripped one of the legs off my shorts – made for some interesting looks out on the trail. I do have a couple spots where I know I have crashed – I avoided them for a while then tried them again on a day when I was feeling good and strong. I am a strong rider physically so most of my challenges are mental – I just need to convince my brain to chill out.

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
When I started on the MTB I was a strong road rider but I was pretty bad at every skill needed to ride MTB trails. I didn’t know how to brake properly, I didn’t know how to navigate a line around or over obstacles, and I definitely didn’t know how to ride switchbacks. For some reason I could turn left but turning right was more of a challenge. I didn’t know how to trust my bike and didn’t understand what it was capable of going over, up and down. For most of the basic technical skills I learned various drills to practice off trail. For example – ride a small circle in a parking lot – right and left. Over and over until it feels normal both directions! Again, practice was big here plus getting some instruction by more experienced riders.

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
Absolutely! There are tons of challenging trails with big rocks and highly technical features that are beyond my skills (or in some cases I actually think I am physically capable but my mental part kicks in and says no). I have lots of room to improve my skills, which keeps me challenged and excited.

What do you love about riding your bike?
 It makes me a happy healthy person. I get to enjoy the outdoors, challenge myself both mentally and physically. I get to spend tons of time with my husband and friends.

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them-
Twenty2 cycles bully
– This is my fat bike. It is a beautiful fast Ti bike with purple highlights. I wanted to upgrade from my first fat bike and I rode my hubby’s Twenty2 and had to order one for myself.
Road/Tour bike built by Seven – This is the bike I had custom built to ride to my wedding. CA to CO in 2011 – about 1700 miles.  I love this bike – it is bulletproof yet completely responsive and fast when it needs to be.
Salsa El Mariachi – My 29er. I rode it tons to prepare for Leadville in 2013 but sadly don’t ride it too much now that I primarily ride my fat bike.
Shinola Bixby – this is the girliest bike I have ever owed. It is my cruise around town, run errands, no need for bike specific clothes, hey yes that is a basket and yes I can put that beer in there for you.

What inspired you to purchase a fatbike?
I first saw one in a MTB magazine a few years back. My husband and I went out to Portsmouth NH for the weekend and stopped into a bike shop that I knew had one in stock (they weren’t so popular a couple years back). I rode it around the parking lot that was covered in fresh snow and was instantly hooked and came home with the bike.

In our area fatbikes are becoming increasingly popular, but only a few women ride them. In your words, why should women consider investing in a fatbike?
It is such a fun way to get out and enjoy winter (or any time). I can’t stand riding a trainer in the winter and I think fresh air is good for you. Truthfully, I don’t know anyone that has actually got on a fat bike and rode it that hasn’t had a fun time. It makes you feel like a kid and puts a smile on your face – what’s better than that?

You ride your fatbike year-round and even rode it during RAGBRAI! People often see the bike and think it's "just for winter/snow"- what are your thoughts on this:
I say ride what is fun! Yes, I would have been faster on a road bike in RAGBRAI but it isn’t about being the fastest – it is about being fun! I also like the challenge – I had never ridden a century on my fat bike before. I am ready to go for RAGBRAI again this year and they even added a gravel loop! I like my fat bike on dirt trails – tons of traction – I can kick ass up steep loose climbs and the big contact patch from the tire makes corners lots of fun.

Tell us about the group you are involved in- Fat Bike Gurlz and what it's all about!
The main group of Fat Bike Gurlz are in CO and I am out here in NY. I help to promote it because I think more ladies should be having fun like I do on my fat bike!

You are also involved with Vanderkitten- tell us about that and what they are all about!
I am in my second year of being a Vanderkitten VIP. There is a selection process and you end up with a group of women from all over the world all promoting the Vanderkitten brand. What do we promote? Women that kick ass! Pushing limits of sport and encouraging other women to get out there and challenge themselves to do things they never thought possible.

Tell us about #singletrackgiveback!
#singletrackgiveback (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Singletrack-Giveback/310489775808343) is something my husband (Shawne Camp) and I started. The mission is simple: Bringing singletrack loving riders together for an event in which a community or children will benefit from donations. In December 2014 we held a ride where people brought a snack or drink to share and also a toy to donate for Toys for Tots. We collected 70 toys and people had a great time riding and spending time together. The greatest thing happened next – our friend that runs a bike shop down in Long Island contacted us and asked if he could hold a similar event!
Shawne and I had just finished the Fat Epic race in PA and were able to attend their event on our way home the following day. My husband was one of the founders of the Saratoga Fat Bike Rally that was just recently held – Singletrack Giveback was a part of it and we asked attendees to bring a food donation and get a raffle ticket in exchange. We filled up my car with food and took it to the Franklin Community Center. We are going to continue doing more events and we hope others will be interested in holding their own events!

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
Wool provides the best layers for winter. I love my cycling knickers and jersey by Ibex. I love my pogies from Dogwood Designs. The best helmet I have ever owned is the Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet.

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Mountain bikers are predominantly guys. Many times I think women don’t get involved because they are worried that they can’t keep up and will hold others back. Mountain biking can be intimidating if you attempt to ride something beyond your skill level.

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
Women encouraging women. Men encouraging women. More women’s group rides, skills clinics and camps – it can be a less intimidating way to get started.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Riding bikes is so badass. Why wouldn’t I want to share this with other women? 

Tell us a random fact about yourself
I will sing songs including commercial jingles while riding to get me through tough sections.