Women on Bikes Series: Shelly Rolandson

About 2008 I bought a hybrid on a whim which eventually turned into my commuting machine. I used it to commute for a few years but then wanted something more. 

I started off riding with the Luna Chix charity team on a few of their monthly rides for beginners. I was introduced to cyclocross as one of the members is the SoCal cyclocross director.
Over the years I raced cross, the occasional road race, rode the velodrome track and tested demo mountain bikes a few times a month. In 2013 I decided to add cross-country mountain biking to the racing schedule and upgraded to Cat1 by the end of the 2013 season. 

I started to get good at the downhills in my xc races. By the end of the year I decided to make the switch to Gravity events like super D, enduro and downhill for the 2014 season. 
Recently I started bmxing too to help my DH skills. 
I've raced for Cynergy Cycles, Rockform/Rocknroadcyclery, and recently just joined Team Ninja. They have the first gravity team I have seen in SoCal that isn't through a bike shop or a pro only team. 
Over the past 6 months I've been planning to take my life to the next epic level. I'm buying a sprinter van and converting it into a camper. I’m going to hit the road in search of trails, roads, pumptracks, epic bike races, and bike parks. Also? Other crazy adventures like rock climbing, white water rafting, skiing, bike touring, hot air ballooning, and anything else that is epic! 
I'll be supporting myself with my freelance design business, zippyzealous.com and I have a few other business ideas I plan to whip out.

Check out Zippy Zealous!-Twitter Instagram Website

When did you first start riding a bike?
I have a photo of me in elementary school on a bike but can't remember actually riding it. I purchased a Trek hybrid in 2008 for commuting.  

What motivated you to ride as much as you have over the years?
It started out as a necessity to get to work when I moved to Los Angeles to save money and time. Now it’s all about discovering new places, new adventures, new challenges, feeding my adrenaline monkey and beating the gremlins. 

What inspired you to use a bicycle for commuting? What do you enjoy about using a bicycle for commuting vs. a car?
I’m a huge fan of saving time and money as well as being green. I get my workout in, commute to work, save money on gas and parking.  

What would be your favorite competitive biking event and why do you enjoy competing?
I started racing gravity events at the beginning this year and so far I’m loving Enduro’s the most! DH or SD is very fun but after you leave the gate its over within a few minutes. Enduros last for many hours and the good ones last all day! I get to really earn those downhills with all the climbing between the stages.

You got involved with cyclocross, what drew you to that style of riding and why do you enjoy it?
It’s quirky like me. Haha! Crits kind of bored me and I wanted something that was entertaining. It’s like a crit/obstacle course on a road bike with knobby tires and you encounter anything from sand, mud, flyovers, logs, barriers, sand, gravel, snow, ice, grass, sharp turns, hecklers, pump tracks, potholes from hell, cowbells, babies, money, beer and bacon hand-ups, stairs, run-ups, etc. It’s like a painful party on a bike. 

You recently started bmxing to help with your DH skills, what are you enjoying about BMX and why do you find it helpful?
I enjoy learning how to pump and jump which are two skills I really need to work on. I find that after riding the lil’ squirrelly bmx bike and then going to the DH bike I feel more comfortable on it, almost effortless. After only a few sessions my handling improved a lot. I eventually would like to hit some skate parks and learn some tricks! 

Do you remember how you felt on your first mountain bike ride?
I can’t remember the very first ride but I do remember one of my first rides that ended in an epic dirt sandwich, a trip to the ER and some stitches on my chin that left me a juicy bill. LoL! I also remember hating climbs and was very frustrated that everyone that I was riding would fly up the climbs while I turtled along.  

If you had nervousness at all, what do you do or think to overcome it?
Usually pre-riding a course is the best cure for nervousness or reducing it. Reminding myself “Don’t slam the front brake!” and “If others can get down this hill without dying so can I!” Wearing proper padding helps improve confidence and reduce nervousness.

What do you love about the various forms of mountain biking?
I love that I can ride different terrains depending on my mood, fitness, or skills that I need to work on.  Some days I just lack the mental capacity to ride through a rock garden or pump track so in that case its usually good to do some climbing.  

Do you use clipless pedals? If yes, what are some tips/suggestions for beginners that you would share? If no, are you thinking of trying it out at all?
I started out riding with clipless. Biggest tip is to make sure your clips aren’t too tight. Within my first block of riding clipless I tipped over on a sidewalk intersection as I was trying to clip out. I would suggest starting out with flat pedals for DH. It will teach you not to pull up on your pedals and proper foot placement when jumping so your feet don't fly off. 

Have you had any biffs that were challenging for you on a physical/mental/emotional level? What did you do to heal and overcome?
I haven’t had any major ones yet. Just the occasional braking with my knees without knee pads. I don't suggest this form of braking.  

When you started out riding, what were some handling skills that challenged you? Do you have any suggestions for what helped you grasp them?
Switchbacks, rocky stuff, sand, steep downhills, pretty much anything technical scared me. 
Tips: Ride with people who know what they are doing. Ride behind them and copy why they are doing. Take many clinics and I suggest one on one clinics so you can work on what you need to. Riding technical stuff is 80% mental 20% skill. If you don't believe you can make something you are more likely to prove yourself right.  

Are there still handling or technical riding aspects that you find tricky? How do you not let that drag you down when riding?
I sometimes use my front brake too much which makes me really slow, I bobble around, and sometimes end up in a bush. I just got to remind myself to not use my front brake much. Jumping is the main thing I have not mastered yet. I just look back to last year and remind myself how far I’ve come and that eventually I will learn how to do whatever skill I am trying to learn.  

What do you love about riding your bike?
It puts a smile on my face! I love the feeling of flying, seeing how far I can push myself, meeting new people, exploring new places, traveling by bike, enjoying nature and the scenery.  

Tell us about your bike(s), what they are like and why did you choose them?
I have a Specialized Crux Pro. I love it. It fits me like a glove, its light, snappy and fast. I also slap on a thule bike rack/panniers for commuting and a few mini bike tours. Someday I’ll upgrade to mechanical disc breaks for better stopping power and a CX1. 
Specialized Langster Pro for the velodrome. It hasn’t seen much love lately. But I like to ride it at the track to change it up from the dirt/pavement rides. Don't have to worry about cars or traffic.
GT Speed Series Pro 20”. I bought this bike on a whim because it was pretty and I wanted to play on the bmx track.
Specialized Sworks Enduro 26” is my sexy beast and favorite bike! It’s what I do all my mountain biking on right now. 
Eventually I’ll get a DH bike, a touring mountain bike, and a SS Hardtail. 

What clothing/bike accessories do you love? What would you recommend to your friends?
I have a camelbak that is really comfy! But as far as women’s clothing it’s all flowery and pink crap. So I usually end up wearing men’s clothing that’s usually too big because apparently small men don’t ride bikes? 
Love the Specialized SWAT shorts for enduro racing. It makes it much easier to carry just a water bottle and no camelbak during the races.  

What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Most think it’s crazy and/or that they couldn’t do it. 

What do you feel could happen to make changes and/or encourage more women to ride?
It’s really hard to find groups to ride with when starting out especially if you don’t know anyone who bikes. You usually have to know someone to even hear about a ride. 
When I first started getting serious about biking I spent many months trying to find a team to join. I got rejected by many teams because I was a cat 4 at the time. There isn't much for beginners out there, especially in gravity. 
Women are usually social and finding friends to bike with would encourage more women to join. I hope someday there is a better way for women to find groups and teams to ride with.

What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Watching their confidence grow as they learn something new. 

What excites you about chasing your dream/adventure?
Being completely free to explore everything and everywhere, riding new trails constantly, trying new adrenaline pumping activities, seeing new sights, meeting new people, creating my own adventures and living a simple life based on experiences and not a money driven life as it once was. Also being able to support myself with my online business, zippyzealous.com brings a smile to my face.  

Tell us a random fact about yourself!
I love bacon!