Over the last
several seasons Amanda Carey has proven herself to be one of
America's top endurance racers. In 2012 she took big wins at the
Breck Epic Stage Race, Park City Point 2 Point, Breck 100, and Pierre's Hole 100, was 2nd in the NUE Series, and then followed up her
mountain bike season with a full cyclocross
2013 though, Carey plans to mix things up. She's joined a new team,
the Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's squad, and is focusing primarily on
stage races and shorter endurance races.
Carey was kind enough to talk to MTBRacenews recently about her new team,
why she's taking a year off from 100 milers, and the state of women's
bike racing in America.
MTBRacenews.com: You raced quite a bit of cross
this season. Can you give us a quick recap? What was the highlight of cyclocross season for you?
Amanda Carey: This past cross season was my best yet. My approach was the same
it has always been: race into shape and plan it as I go according to
how I feel and my motivation level. I just kept having fun, so I
decided to keep it going a lot longer than I originally imagined. The
caliber of cyclocross racing in the US is just getting higher and
higher. The sport has tremendous energy behind it - itís really
exciting to be a part of it all. Plus, I rode for a great regional
team (Volkswagen Boise) and the additional support from the team was
motivating and kept it fun.
I had a great
season overall, but I think my highlight came during the Cincy3
weekend. It was the first weekend that I felt like my legs had
finally come up with the speed I needed to compete rather than just
participate. I shared a podium with Katie Compton and Katarina Nash
on day 1, and was 4th and 5th the other days,
but it mostly just felt great to feel fast on the cross bike rather
than like I was just hanging on for dear life.
MTBRacenews.com: What's the most challenging
aspect of transitioning from racing 100 milers to doing 45 minute cyclocross races?
Amanda Carey: Being patient. I donít train for cross before the season
starts, so that first month of racing into shape just takes a lot of
patience to wait for my legs and brain to shift from 100-mile mode to
cross mode. Itís easy to get frustrated, especially because I take
cross seriously once I start doing it and want to be racing fast
right off the bat. Racing into shape hurts a lot more, but itís
certainly effective and way more fun than grinding out intervals on
MTBRacenews.com: Thinking back to last mountain
bike season, how much of a disappointment was it to lose out on the
overall NUE Series win to Cheryl Sornson at the Fool's Gold 100 (the
final race of the series)?
Amanda Carey: I had a great season, but just had some unfortunate luck with
illness at the series opener at Cohutta and at Foolís Gold, the
finals. It was certainly disappointing, but thatís racing. So much
of this sport is luck and timing and sometimes it just doesnít work
out in your favor. But, donít forget, Cheryl had a great season,
too. She rode very well and earned and deserved the win and the
overall title. I just didnít have it when it counted this year.
At Foolís Gold
I was coming off 2 hard-fought wins at the Breck Epic and then the
Park City Point 2 Point. I had great form and was feeling great on
the bike. However, the day after the P2P I came down with a nasty
stomach bug and spent most of the week before Foolís Gold
horizontal on the couch. I remember packing my bike to fly to
Georgia, taking intermittent breaks to dry heave into a trashcan in
the workshop thinking "what the hell am I doing?Ē I knew I had no
business boarding a plane to race, but the format of the NUE required
that I participate in the final to break a tie to compete for the
overall, so I went.
Going to the
Foolís Gold start line with a deep sense of dread, knowing I had
nothing in my tank was the hardest part. I had a good hour in me at
the start of the race, but then the lights just completely went out.
I spent the next 8 hours sick to my stomach, going backwards and just
riding around like a zombie. I wonít lie - it was the worst day I
have ever spent on a bicycle. I was so out of it I actually donít
remember most of itÖwhich I suppose is a good thing! I somehow
finished the race in 2nd but it pretty much destroyed me
both physically and emotionally.
MTBRacenews.com: Looking to 2013, what can you
tell us about your new team? What was the impetus behind the switch?
Amanda Carey: A series of events made my switch to the Stanís team a perfect
fit. I knew early on in the summer that Kenda/Felt wasnít asking me
back, so I had some thinking to do. The most important thing I
realized was that I wanted a team situation that made me feel like I
was part of something. The 2012 season was a great one for me
results-wise, but I was just incredibly lonely. Iíd fly or drive to
races alone, stay in hotels alone, do all my prep work on my own,
then Iíd go race around the woods for 8-11 hr races, alone. I had
good financial support to do what I needed to do, but I was doing it
all solo. It was exhausting and isolating.
point for me was at the Breck Epic. It was the most fun I had racing
all year. Yeah, it was a kick-ass event overall with incredible
terrain, but a big part of my enjoyment was that it was a very social
racing atmosphere and my husband (a mechanic for Giant) was with me
all week working as my mechanic and doing support. It was the first
time all year I had support and it felt awesome. It made the racing a
lot more fun.
I first met and
hug out with the Stanís No Tubes crew when I did the TransSylvania
Epic in 2011. My husband and I immediately fell into their fold and
just loved their positive energy, attitudes and genuine love for
mountain biking. I just remember laughing a lot! I know all the women
on the team - a few are former teammates and very close friends of
mine. They are all class and are all intelligent, interesting, fun
and incredibly inspiring women to be around. So, when Shannon Gibson
approached me this fall about joining the team it was a very easy yes
to give. I knew the team would provide the supportive and social
atmosphere that I am craving to get my passion for racing burning
brighter than ever. Yes, I am a dork, but I still canít believe I
get to be on the same team as Sue Haywood! And, I honestly feel like
I have joined a family, not a team. Thatís whatís most important
to me at this point in my career.
MTBRacenews.com: What are your main goals for
next season? Will you be competing in the NUE Series again this
Amanda Carey: I am more excited and motivated than I have been in a very long
time! My three priority races this year will be the TransSylvania
Epic, Marathon Nationals and the Breck Epic. No more NUE. I just feel
like I need to step away from the 100-mile format for a while. I will
go to a couple Pro XCTs and XC Nats. I also have quite a few 50s on
the calendar. I think the 50-mile format will be a lot more fun for
me and really hit on that distance sweet spot for me to take
advantage of my endurance but also keep it mentally engaging,
exciting, and fun.
When I finish a
100-miler all I want to do for 3 days after is eat, sleep and slug
around. I like to ride my bike a lot, so Iím looking forward to not
having that "I feel like Iíve been run over by a truckĒ for the
majority of my season.
2013 will also
be the first time that I actually plan for a cross season, meaning I
am trying to tailor a MTB schedule that will help prepare me better
for cross. I hope to land myself on a cross-specific team for this
fall, but for now Iím just focused on having a great MTB season.
MTBRacenews.com: Have you had a chance to check
out any of the Cannondale bikes yet? Any idea what you'll be racing
on this season?
Amanda Carey: Iíve been fortunate to ride some great bikes in my career, but
from what Iíve been told by fellow racers and have read, I expect
to be blown away by the Cannondaleís performance. I will be racing
on the F29 29er hardtail and the Scalpel 29. Paired with Stanís
wheels, I know I will be on the best, lightest equipment on the
MTBRacenews.com: There's seems to have been a
big effort in the last few years to bring equality to men's and
women's racing in terms of prize money, sponsorship etc. What do you
see as the state of that effort?
Amanda Carey: In the two disciplines that I race, cyclocross and endurance,
payouts are fairly equal. I only did one 100-miler this year (out of
9) that didnít pay women equally.
So, from my
personal experience the prize money situation is good. The US is
especially leading the charge towards equal payout for women in
cyclocross. Europe is lagging far behind and I think more European
women are coming to race in N. America because they recognize that
In terms of
sponsorship, itís less equal. There are fewer high-level
opportunities for women in both cross and mountain biking - very few
are making a salary and most need jobs to support their racing.
American women do so much to promote mountain biking in a positive
light that extends beyond race results, but we arenít yet equally
compensated in sponsorship terms. Most co-ed teams out there are not
balanced at all Ė look at most of the major factory teams in North America. They have far more spots for men than women on their
What bums me out
in the state of womenís equality is that the media and industry
continues to give female athletes ample opportunity to additionally
benefit from showing off their "feminineĒ sides away from the
bike, field or ski slope. I get frustrated that female athletes feel
like they have to show off their bodies in calendars and photo shoots
for attention and to demonstrate that they can be strong, badass
athletes AND be sexy, that somehow these two qualities are mutually
exclusive. I think strong IS sexy. I want female athletes to be
respected and celebrated for what their bodies can do, not for what
they look like. But, until women stop putting themselves out there in
that light, it will continue. Women are contributing to this problem.
Itís self-perpetuating. It wonít stop until we stop it.
MTBRacenews.com: What's one race out there
that's on your bucket list to do in the next few years?
Amanda Carey: Ohhh, tough one. But, I love stage racing the most out of any
format, so Iíd say the king of them all, the Cape Epic.
MTBRacenews.com: You race steadily 10 months a
year, year after year. How are you able to stay fit and motivated
through such long seasons year in and year out?
Amanda Carey: For me, itís all about doing what I love and what keeps me
happy and fresh mentally Ė that makes it easy. For some unknown
reason I do incredibly well on high volume, Iíve been that way all
my life. Each year is different, however. This year, I feel like I
want more home time and want to ski more, so Iím not heading to
Tucson to train. Iím going to stay home, take advantage of my
Jackson Hole ski pass, tele and skate ski a lot and do my favorite
thing in the entire winter world, backcounty ski. For me, nothing
beats a long tour with good friends to seek out perfect powder turns.
It just so happens to be great base training.
I think a big
part of being able to race so much is that 100-milers and cyclocross
are just 2 totally different racing worlds: different bikes,
different training, different people, venues, intensity and strategy.
Racing cross actually feels like a break for me. And, by the time
cross season is over I cannot wait to get on my mountain bike.
I am religious
about foam rolling and I own Podium Legs - that helps!
MTBRacenews.com: Having gotten to race all over
the country, what's your favorite place to ride and why?
Amanda Carey: Hmmmm, another
tough one. Itís a dead heat between Park City and Pisgah. I think I
could ride in those two places for the rest of my life and never get
bored. They both have endless trail networks and the quality of the
riding in both locations pretty much defines mountain bike heaven.
All photos courtesy of Daniel Dunn Photography.