From the music, outdoor, textiles, nonprofit, and government sector, Rachel found herself in the tech industry – where she’d like to stay. She’s VP of Marketing for Gorilla Logic, a custom software development agency headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.
Rachel has a rough time with idle time, so she also co-founded the Colorado Women’s Cycling Project, co-organizes Wednesday Morning Velo and Boulder Startup Week, is a current board member for the Downtown Boulder Initiative, women’s committee member for the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (and former BoD member), and current advisory board member to Opera Denver. Her athletic ADD is just as bad, diving into new sports as quickly as she can obtain the gear. She’s an elite road and mountain biker, daily hot yoga addict, avid climber, trail runner, nordic skier, and is dabbling in biathlon after a failed attempt at motocross.
You had several things happen in your personal life, one of which was changing careers. What helped you take the leap and how have you been enjoying it?
I’ve always been focused on building my personal brand with my professional one. This includes public speaking, teaching workshops and guest lecturing at the university and volunteering in my community. I believe my online and offline presence has helped lead me throughout my career. And believe it or not, the bike has played an instrumental part in my professional identity as well. My new CEO and CTO are both avid cyclists as is our VP of Engineering in Costa Rica at Gorilla Logic. (http://gorillalogic.com)
Speaking of personal, you were recently married and bought a house! How has married and house life been going?
Any words of wisdom for those looking to purchase their first home?
Just like business or bike racing, don’t give up on your first try. We had three different offers go out, and we lost out on two of them to people paying 100% in cash and over asking price in the 10s of thousands of dollars. When something like that happens and we had a measly little downpayment, you get discouraged, especially in a market like Boulder. Timmy was fantastic though and new some ways that would make our offer more appealing and the third time was the charm. We had to be patient, not giving up, and it paid off.
You also adopted an older cat- I have 3 cats I adopted from a local humane society. What inspired you to adopt a an older cat vs. a kitten?
Old kitties need love too if not more! Most kittens will get snatched up from the Humane Society almost immediately but there are some older animals who aren’t so lucky. We wanted to give Pippin the opportunity to experience a house with a lot of love to give so he has some good years for the rest of his life. I tortured myself for weeks looking at the Humane Society website and my husband had an opportunity to bring home an older lover boy. He is absolutely amazing. The best cat either of us have ever had - so I’d say we lucked out big time. #adoptdontshop
Tell us about the Colorado Women's Cycling Project and what it's all about-
Colorado Women’s Cycling Project is a competitive women’s cycling team and club team. We started with 7 members in 2010 and since have grown to have over 100 women. We compete in road, mountain bike, track and cyclocross disciplines and promote the growth of women through sport. Our club team accepts members year round and gets mentorship from our racing riders. They also get their dues back if they race five times. Last year, we added a Domestic Elite team and competed in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge women’s race. We’ve been recognized regionally and nationally for our volunteer work and cycling efforts - including winning Best All Around team in Colorado for several categories and disciplines and were recognized as USA Cycling’s Women’s Club of the Year in 2012.
What are some future goals you have for Colorado Women's Cycling Project?
We want to focus more in engagement with our members. I know this is a struggle with many membership based organizations, and ours is no different. We’ve beefed up our team management, appointed mentors to our club and newer racing members, opened up some of our requirements to be more inclusive and have senior women on the team giving their time in a lot of different ways to make the experience for our team a lot better. When we grew so quickly it became difficult to manage and we didn’t even know everyone’s name on the team. This year will be different and hopefully allow us to serve our mission better while still getting even more women into cycling. We could not do it without the help of our sponsors financially and also without the involvement of those women on our team who give their own time to see it improve.
What has been one of the best moments since you started co-organizing Wednesday Morning Velo?
So many great moments with Wednesday Morning Velo! It’s the best unstructured interval work out for me, but also a fantastic way to network on the bike. I’d say one of the best moments was leading our last ride of 2015 to a Boulder Golf Course (Golf is the new cycling?) and we all had breakfast at the end of the ride compliments of Lake Valley Golf Club. Each of us also got two free rounds of golf (over 100 cyclists!).
The ride is amazing and I love meeting my professional friends in spandex and trading attacks on the roads of Boulder.
Tell us about Boulder Startup Week-
Boulder Startup Week brings entrepreneurs, local leaders, and friends together over five days in May to build momentum and opportunity around Boulder's unique entrepreneurial identity. The celebration is led by entrepreneurs and hosted in the entrepreneurial spaces everyone loves. I volunteer to be the Adventure leader because while my day job is software, I love bringing people together through hiking, biking, yoga and more. Boulder is also home to several professional athletes in addition to its thriving startup community so I enjoy marrying the two.
Tell us about 40 under 40-
You had a few races in, such as Brek Epic, Dakota five-0, and 24 hours of Old Pueblo. Do you have any tips or suggestions for those considering entering a big-ticket event?
Just keep pedaling :) I had a rough year this year. While our team won the 24 HOP event in February of last year, my year went downhill after that. Buying a house, changing jobs, getting married and more had a few things to do with it but I still managed to have a lot of fun even though I was bringing up the rear and forming breaks off the back most of my season. I had to have a mind shift about how I approached events, and took it more as a supported fun ride that took me to new trails. I’m glad I did because I had more fun taking pictures, looking at new trails and meeting new people than I would have if I were killing myself in a race. It was actually a nice break.
Out of those events, which one do you feel most proud of?
I would say Breck Epic. I started out with a teammate in a duo competition but she got ill and had to pull out of the event. We were in the leaders jersey for the women’s duo and I was riding a lot of brand new trails that were much more advanced than my capabilities. I didn’t quit though and finished up the next 4 days solo. I had a blast doing it despite a lot of flat tires, hail, someone mistakenly taking my aid bag that had my rain jacket in it and spare tubes, and more. It was an adventure that I liked so much that I signed up again this year!
Luckily for me, I lost my ego and have been eating a lot of humble pie since moving to Colorado six years ago. I love the bike win every way - for transportation, for networking, for meditation, and more. It’s not just about racing and training. Yes, I love those things too but when life gets in the way, it’s ok to take a step back as long as you can keep your head on straight about it. It was rough at times, but had to remind myself that I did not a single interval all year and was lucky if I got 4 hours a week in. Every second I got to ride my bike, I was so thankful that I could. Even if it was getting my legs torn off in a race.
You have been dealing with a back injury flare up, injuries such as that can affect one both physically and mentally. What has helped you deal?
I’ve had a low back injury since I was a competitive gymnast from nearly 20 years ago. I had to stop doing gymnastics for about 6 months to get it to heal and it flares up every now and again ever since. This year, it was either my new bed or a 9 hour bike ride up Rollins Pass on my road bike (and that’s a mountain bike trail) that triggered it. I’ve been getting regular chiropractic, dry needling and always therapeutic massage. My practitioners are all cyclists too so they get it and can help talk me through it while getting treatment. I’m not one to take a pill or opt for surgery so if there’s a way to treat the cause and not just the symptom, I’m all for it. It takes longer but it also took my back several years to get in the spot that it’s in so I can be patient about it. I think of it like a cavity. Cavities don’t just show up over night - it takes a while to treat. You still have to go to the dentist twice a year at a minimum to treat your teeth whether you have cavities or not. It’s preventative and that’s how I view my care that I seek out.
Since our last interview you acquired a couple new bikes, tell us about them and what do you like about 650B?
Giant Lust Advanced 0 - I LOVE THE 650 B and the new RS1 fork. I feel so much more comfortable on the new bike compared to my 29er. I feel it accelerates and more easily, too. Plus the dropper is going to totally change my descending game.
Specialized Amira - I’m trying out a women’s frame again. I think some of my back troubles have stemmed from riding men’s bikes because they don’t fit me just right. The best frame I have ever ridden was a women’s specific frame and I’m looking forward to trying one out again.
What do you feel deters women from getting involved with cycling? Especially mountain biking?
Fear of injury and the time/money commitment. Also people don’t want to “suck” at first; however, everyone struggles when they pick up a new sport. As we get older, we fear more and more getting out of our comfort zone. Especially with mountain biking. I remember being terrified for the first 2 years of riding (and still sometimes am) but it gets better and I love the challenge. Also mountain bikes have a lot more things to tune and thus a lot more things that can go wrong - tubeless tires, suspension settings, and more. It’s hard to just air up the tires and go sometimes. And mountain bikes can be nearly double the cost of a good road bike. I think you can learn so much more every time you ride on a mountain bike and the racing scene is so much more chill.
What do you feel could industry-wise or locally to help encourage more women to become involved (in cycling and/or the industry)?
Model more races after the Beti Bike Bash and have more support for groups that support young women like Little Bellas and Impact 360. The bike is a powerful tool that offers independence and confidence. Most girls start falling out of sports between 11-13 and begin to fear certain activities. I think we need to get through that hump, develop more role models in the sport, and encourage our fellow women out there to get on bikes. It’s a community and we must build it and nurture it to make sure it survives. All ages, all disciplines and all socioeconomic persons deserve to feel the joy and freedom that two wheels provide.
What inspires you to encourage women to ride?
Watching the growth that comes from it. I love it watching when there’s a women who is new to the sport come in and then become a mentor herself over time. It’s so much fun to watch. They continue to transfer the love of riding to their peers and new generations. It’s like stories and culture, having to be passed down in order to survive and thrive. When I see a new person come to the sport, I want to share so much (maybe too much about riding) and then watch them digest it and eventually pass on their own versions of why they ride. It truly is the most rewarding thing.