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Interview with Specialized Rider Lea Davison

Posted by: Matt Williams |May 23, 2013 3:06 AM

A fixture on the American race scene for years, Specialized racer Lea Davison had a breakthrough year in 2012. Davison raced to a top-ten finish at the World Championships, and represented the US at the Olympic Games in London.

Davison is back at it and off to a strong start in 2013, taking multiple early season PRO XCT wins. But her main focus remains the World Cup circuit later this year. She was kind enough to take a few minutes before Sea Otter to check in with MTBRacenews about what last year means to her, what's new with her Little Bellas program, and what races she's most excited about this summer. Is it fair to say that 2012 was your best season ever? What do you think was your best race of the year?

Lea Davison: 2012 was my best season to date.  I had a lot of great races last season, but my best race was probably 8th place at the World Championships. Congratulations on your trip to the Olympics. Can you sum up that experience for us? What happened that you didn't expect?

Lea Davison: It's hard to sum up the Olympics in a couple of words and a lot of things happened that I didn't expect. My american teammate, Georgia Gould, described the Olympic race perfectly.  The noise and the nervous energy is like a world cup race start except that it lasts the entire race.  It's wild.  I also didn't expect that there would be a McDonald's in the athlete village dining hall that always had a line. The entire experience was completely exciting and really a dream come true.  Sometimes it still seems like a dream. Was it hard to stay focused on actually racing your bike in London given everything else that what going on?

Lea Davison: The Specialized team stayed away from all of the chaos in London and the Olympic Village.  The race venue was about an hour away from the village so we stayed at a hotel in the quiet town. With this setup, it was easy to focus on the race because it felt like a normal world cup. Did you do anything differently in 2012 that helped you achieve a higher level of success, or was it just the result of small improvements year to year?

Lea Davison: For the 2012 season, I continued straight through the offseason with my strength training program designed by Bill Knowles and iSport.  I took a break from the bike, but I didn't take a break from the strength training.  I also did a lot of motor pacing with my coach, Andy Bishop, to prepare for the unique Olympic course.  Years of training build on one another, but the schedule was so different last year that it took a different approach from a lot of angles.  I needed to have great fitness in March, April, and May for the first four World Cups which were Olympic qualifiers.  Then, I was obviously focusing on the Olympic race in August. With the Olympics out of the picture for a couple of years, how does 2013 look different that 2012?

Lea Davison: As I said above, the schedule is a lot more normal.  Because the world cup opener is in mid-May as opposed to March last year, I had the opportunity to do a lot more nordic skiing this winter. I actually raced in two 50k skate loppets.  It's so great to immerse myself in a completely different sport and forget about cycling for little bit. How big is it to have a PRO XCT in your backyard (at the Catamount Family Center in Williston, VT)? Can you give us any insight into how that came about?

Lea Davison: It's a dream come true to have the ProXCT Finals at Catamount this season.  I get to race in front of my family, friends, and Little Bellas.  My sister, Sabra, works part time for Catamount, and Eric, Catamount's director, has always been interested in hosting a national race.  They both floated the idea by me, and I was so excited about it.  I'm on the ProXCT committee along with a handful of other committed volunteers.  Together, with the lions share of hard work from Sabe and Eric, we are making this dream a reality. It's going to be a great event. What's new with Little Bellas this year?  

Lea Davison: The Little Bellas are expanding, and it's going to be a great year for the program.  The majority of our Vermont programs are already filled up.  Our national tour is returning to the Sea Otter Classic in California, the Beti Bike Bash in Colorado, and the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Wisconsin. We are adding three stops to the tour for 2013.  We will be running our national camp at the Catamount Classic and also a large camp at the Providence Cyclocross Festival.  We will also have a presence at La Bella Preme, a unique bike tour in Malibu, CA.  La Bella Preme participants have the option to fundraise for the Little Bellas, and we are really excited to pair with such a great event. Where do you see the Little Bellas program in five years?

Lea Davison: The Little Bellas will have a strong national presence with more camps across the nation. Riding for Specialized you have access to a broad range of bikes. How do you choose between the hardtail and the Epic for endurance racing? Is wheel size still something you play around with?  

Lea Davison: Specialized makes such great bikes and that's good problem to  have. Specialized also makes the best, high performance women's bikes.  I usually race the Fate, the women's 29er, because it's one of the lightest bikes out there.  The Fate can handle a lot of world cup courses, and I raced the Epic in one world cup last year.  Both bikes are a great choice. Once I rode the Fate, I was sold on 29ers. What are your goals for 2013?  

Lea Davison: To get on as many world cup podiums as possible. Last question, what was your favorite new artist/album this last year?  

Lea Davison: I love anything that comes from Florence and the Machine and Mumford and Sons.  

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