Tips & Tricks

Hagens Berman | Supermint Pro Cycling: Finding Balance

Hagens Berman | Supermint is an American UCI-registered women’s professional cycling team.  We asked team members Lily Williams, Jess Cerra, Harriet Owen, Liza Rachetto and Lindsay Goldman to share how they find balance between their personal lives and their cycling.

Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

On average, how much time do you dedicate to training?
Lindsay: Depending on the time of the year, anywhere between 10 and 15 hours per week of bike time and another 2-3 hours of physical therapy, stretching, and strength training. If you factor in all of the non-training activities that go hand-in-hand with training (sleeping, recovering from one ride to prepare for the next, eating properly), then training becomes a full-time life endeavor.
Liza: About 15 to 25 hours a week. Last year I put in a total of 900 hours.

Why do you race? What drives you to do what you do?
Harriet: I love racing my bike! The feeling that you get from racing is far beyond anything you can get from a normal day job. I’m driven on success from my team and myself and of course, having fun!
Lindsay: Compulsion. Kidding. Sort of. I love competing and can make anything a competition – group rides, crossword puzzles, walking to the mailbox. I need the feeling of working towards something in basically everything I do, so in cycling that means trying to get faster, stronger, and more skilled. Racing makes that a legitimate project.

How did you get into the sport and how many years have you been participating?
Jess: In grad school, I was doing research on calcium volumes lost in sweat, and the relation to osteoporosis in elite male cyclists. I didn’t own a bike, ride or compete, but I put myself through the testing protocol and tested with a VO2 max at what would be considered an Olympic level for a woman. My professor gave me a mountain bike, and that’s how I started. I continued to race XTERRA off-road triathlons for 4 years, winning the amateur national championship. I continued on to race mountain bikes professionally from 2012-2013, and then got into road racing in 2014. In 2015 I raced my first pro road season, and 2019 will be my 5th pro season.
Harriet: I got into the sport through my dad; he used to race locally, so I decided to have a go. My parents bought me a road bike and I haven’t looked back since! I’ve been competing since I was 11 years old, so 14 years now.

Is cycling your full time job? If not, what else do you do?
Lily: I also work for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Bike Index, as the communications director. For a while, I was doing some freelance journalism as a science writer. I also manage my cyclocross team, the Pony Shop p/b KPMG.
Jess: I think we all know the answer to this question for American women. That’s what is most impressive about our peloton. It’s not uncommon to find women with PhDs, full time jobs, children, etc. I am a private chef and caterer and I’m also the co-owner and CEO of an energy bar company called JoJé bar.

Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

Are you a mother? How do you find balance when it comes to work, training and caring for a family?
Lindsay: Yup, I’m a mother (the only one on the team). I get up really early in the morning during the week to train before my daughter wakes up. That means getting up around 4 am so I can be done by 7:30 am. On the weekends when I have longer rides, I still go out early but unfortunately miss seeing her wake up. It’s a crappy trade off but I think it’s also important to have balance. I want my daughter to know that I love her more than anything, but I’m still a person with goals of my own. The biggest thing that has helped over the last 10 months since she was born is the support system of my family – my husband and both sets of grandparents have been a huge help in supporting my goals of training and racing. We’ve had one of the grandmothers staying with us since the baby was born, enabling me to get out and ride while knowing my daughter is in great hands.

What is your favorite non sport-related hobby/activity? How do you budget your time to fit this in?
Lily: Writing. While I do a lot of writing for work, I have long found writing for myself to be a very enjoyable and cathartic process. I definitely need to make more time to fit this into my day each day and develop a structure around it.
Liza: *laugh* Well, reading 5-10 minutes a night is about all I have time for.

What are your goals for the future?
Jess: I’ve had years of health issues, surgeries and injuries. Having a healthy 2018 season, leading into a healthy 2019 season, is something new to me. I think I am just starting to capitalize on my potential and what I can contribute to my team. I want to keep pushing the boundaries this season. My goal off the bike is to continue to grow my company and brand. I would like to grow my company to a point where I can create jobs and mentor others in the field.
Harriet: To help my team have a successful year and win plenty of bike races!

What is your biggest piece of advice to female athletes aspiring to make their sport their profession?
Lily: Find a good coach who has experience in your position, both as someone trying to race the professional circuit as well as one who understands the needs of financially supporting yourself while you train. Your coach wears many important hats outside of just planning your workouts. Form a trustful relationship with your coach and you will go far as a team unit.
Jess: Focus on school or your other passion/trade/career. NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE can take your education away. But cycling is volatile and can change in an instant. Having another part of your identity will keep you sane and balanced both when things are going well, and during the times when things aren’t going so well.
Harriet: Have fun and do it for yourself. Your biggest motivator is yourself.
Liza: Get a coach, have a long term plan, be patient with yourself and find a mentor currently racing professionally.
Lindsay: Balance is critical. Sport is an exciting and challenging profession, but it’s also extremely demanding both personally and on the people closest to you. It’s important that you recognize and appreciate the sacrifice you and your family will have to make as you chase your goals. It’s also important to build a career outside of your sport, because injury, burnout, loss of sponsorship, etc. can change your ability to do your sport in an instant and you never want to be without a backup plan.

Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

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