By Elke Bengston and Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D. —
Elke Bengston and Anthony Nocella: Could you tell me how you got into cycling and if any women supported you in the beginning?
Sarah Kaufmann: I got into cycling as a way to rehab an injury as a nordic ski racer. Cycling was the only activity I could manage with the injury but before long I was enjoying that more than my desire to get back to skiing. A couple of years later, it was all guys who hooked me into riding off-road. They lined up borrowed bikes, drove me around, showed me trails, and gave me tips. Chris Lane at Roaring Mouse Cycles in San Francisco really got me started!
EB: Tell me a bit about your racing history, such as your podiums and other accomplishments, including the teams you have ridden and raced for?
SK: I raced for six years on the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team, which became the Kenda/Cannondale Pro Team and I am finishing my third year with DNA Pro Cycling Team. I have raced as high as the World Cup level, competing three times at Velirium, Mont-Saint-Anne, and twice at the Windham World Cup. I have been lucky enough to race MTB stage races around the world. Twice winner Vietnam Victory Challenge, winner and podium Quebec Singletrack Experience, winner co-ed BC Bike Race in British Columbia, Solo winner 24-Hours in the Old Pueblo, twice podium Trans-Sylvania Epic, podium Ruta del Quetzal, podium Pisgah Stage Race, three-times podium Park City Point 2 Point.
EB: As a competitive cyclist can you tell me how your personal life or family life is shaped to support your racing and training?
SK: I own my own coaching business which gives me a lot of flexibility with my racing and training schedule. I do not have kids and my boyfriend Matt is incredibly supportive of my racing and lifestyle. I spent many years working in bike shops or working a more traditional 9-5 job and there are tradeoffs with both. Lots of early morning training and I really appreciate the flexibility that I have now.
EB: When training and racing with other women what are some key differences that you observe as the best part of the women’s cycling culture?
SK: I am not sure I understand this question to answer in properly.
EB: In your opinion, how can the industry, race promoters, and bicycle shops be more inclusive to women and girls, besides hiring them as is much needed?
SK: To make lasting change, we are looking for bigger, deeper cultural shifts. I see NICA as a big part of that. Getting younger girls on bikes, riding with their friends and making riding more accessible and ‘normal’ to a wider group will open doors and bring in more women down the road. Equal prize purses, premier or equal race/event timing to showcase the women’s fields are also a great start.
EB: How can the general community support upcoming girls who want to be elite racing cyclists like you, and what do you have to say to young girls?
SK: For younger girls, we should focus on nurturing enjoyment and fun on the bike. Competition can be part of that but let racing be in a less pressured setting. Focus on developing healthy habits around exercise and endurance sports in general. Try everything and keep the emphasis on fun. Avoid obsession and a narrow focus. If you do that for five years and you still want to race at an elite level, let’s talk then!