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Rider Interview: US National Champ Georgia Gould

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |April 25, 2011 11:31 AM
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Georgia Gould has seemingly done it all in U.S. mountain bike racing: Olympics, National Champion, National Series Champion. Despite all her accomplishments she exploded into the 2011 season with two big wins on the Pro XCT circuit and seems as fit and motivated as ever.

The Luna team captain and reigning U.S. Champion took a few minutes to discuss whatís motivating her this season and why U.S. MTB women kick so much ass.

Read her entire interview below.

MTB Race News: In the world of mountain bike racing you have already achieved so much what are your goals for 2011?

Georgia Gould: My big goal for 2011 is to win a world cup.  I would also like to podium at worlds (preferably the top step...), and defend my national title.  Lofty goals?  Yep, but I like to set the bar high.

MTB Race News: why have the US women been so successful on the international scene? And why have the men struggled to do the same?

Georgia Gould: I think there are a lot of factors that play into this.  First, I think that we all got started racing when there was a really strong National Mountain Bike series.  All the top teams were at all the races, and races were super competitive.  It's kind of like what you are seeing now with the USGP cyclocross series.  Top US racers are some of the top racers in the world and they race the USGP- this brings up the level of racing and helps everyone get faster. 

I also think a big part of the success of US women has to do with confidence and momentum.  When you have been at the front of a race you never forget it, and you are always striving to be there.  Similarly, when you see someone that you race with riding at the front of a race you think "I can ride up there too!" I think this has been true for the guys too.  Todd Wells has talked about how having fast teammates has pushed him to race his best, and last year he had his most successful year to date.

It's a little easier for us (women) because our fields aren't quite as big or as deep.  If we have an off day at a world cup, it might cost us 5-10 spots, but if a guy has an off day, it can cost him more like 30 spots. 

MTB Race News: Should the US be sending U23 women along with the men to the European training camps?

Georgia Gould: Yes of course, but I think we need to think about starting kids even earlier.  The current growth of high school mountain bike leagues in California and now Colorado is really great to see.  Again, I think there needs to be a focus on developing a strong and competitive national series instead of just shipping all our top racers to Europe.  I would like to see a return to the days when European riders would come over to the US to race.  Again, I think having a strong national series is very important for developing the next generation of world-class racers.  

MTB Race News: You have been an advocate for women in mountain biking at one point petitioning the UCI for equal payout of menís and womenís fields. Have you seen an improvement in domestic and international racing in terms of equality?

Georgia Gould: The mountain bike community has always been more equal- I think because it is a much younger sport- than the road or cyclocross.  But yes, the attention brought to this issue has resulted in more races adopting an equal payout for men and women. 

MTB Race News: Why aren't more girls/women interested in riding and what would it take to get more girls out on their bikes?

Georgia Gould: I think it can be intimidating.  Especially if the first trail someone rides is really challenging or technical.  No one likes walking when they are supposed to be on a bike ride.   It can also be frustrating because developing skills takes a lot longer than developing fitness. 

MTB Race News: The Luna team is such a consistent and powerful presence in the US racing scene tell us more about this unique program? 

Georgia Gould: There are several things that factor into the success of the LUNA team. First off, the vision and unwavering support we get from our sponsor Clif Bar and specifically owners Gary Ericson and his wife Kit.  Second, our amazing staff.  Team manager and all-around rider-wrangler Waldek keeps all our travel and race schedules running smoothly, he is also there for the occasional pep talk or the occasional heckle.  (And he is ALWAYS available for an espresso....)  Our team mechanics Chris Mathis and Zak DeMerit keep our bikes in tip-top shape and make sure that the only thing we have to worry about is going fast! 

MTB Race News:  You have worked with coach Ben Ollett since the beginning of your pro career. How do you keep your training program fresh and keep making fitness gains year after year?

Georgia Gould: Keeping things fresh is key to being successful, especially since I race a full MTB season and a full 'cross season.  Ben is really good about mixing things up.  There are usually several different ways to accomplish the same goal in training, and Ben and I communicate often to make sure that I am not getting physically or mentally burned out.  Sometimes it's as simple as getting on my road bike or single speed to mix things up, other times it's taking a walk or just doing yoga instead of getting all kitted up to go for an easy recovery ride.  The key has been being honest and open with Ben: if I am exhausted, I tell him; if I don't understand the purpose of a certain workout, I ask questions.  Communication is really important.  Overall, Ben's common-sense approach to coaching is great for someone like me who can get a little neurotic about training.

MTB Race News: You seem to like a higher volume of racing than other racers at your level. Why?

Georgia Gould: I enjoy racing.  I also think that racing is great training.  You can always push yourself harder in a race, and I think racing helps keep your skills and tactics fresh.

MTB Race News: Are you excited about Nationals being at your old stomping ground, Sun Valley Resort in Idaho?

Georgia Gould: Yes, I am super excited to be racing in front of a hometown crowd!!

MTB Race News: Will you be looking to make a good showing there for the hometown crowd?

Georgia Gould: Yes, very yes.

MTB Race News: What is your favorite race venue and why?

Georgia Gould: Hard to say.  One of the things I love about racing mountain bikes is that we get to race on so many different kinds of courses.  The old Nova National in Phoenix was super fun, I love sea otter, but newer venues like Windham and Mt. Morris Wisconsin are pretty awesome too.  Then you throw in World cup race venues: Ft. William, Dalby Forest, St, Felicien, Mt Ste Anne......I love racing mountain bikes....

MTB Race News: What is your favorite place to ride mountain bikes and why?

Georgia Gould: ummmmm.  again, there are so many great trails in so many places.  I'll always have a soft spot for Sun Valley, Idaho- not only because of the AMAZING trails, but also because that's where I learned how to ride.

MTB Race News: As longer distance mtb races continue to gain popularity have you felt the urge to race more marathon length events or mtb stage races?

Georgia Gould: I've done a few 24-hour races, one 100-mile race and BC Bike Race.  I really like the longer format races, and there are so many great races out there.  I would love to be able to race all of them, but one thing I have learned (and it took me a long time) is that if I do too much, everything suffers.  Someday when I am not focused on world cups it would be fun to branch out a little. 

MTB Race News: Have you spent any time on a 29er. If so what are your thoughts, it not, why?

Georgia Gould: I had a 29er that I raced a bit last year.  It had its strengths and weaknesses, but I think for most of the riding and racing I do I prefer the 26" bike.  That said, I think the biggest thing is just whatever you get used to.  I could certainly have made the switch to the 29er, I just didn't want to be switching back and forth between the two for training and racing.

MTB Race News: What are your strengths as a mountain biker?

Georgia Gould: I think my biggest strength is consistency.  That, and I never give up!

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