An Interview with Sarah Kaufmann

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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?

Sarah Kaufmann racing in the Utah Cyclocross Series race on December 4, 2021. Photo by Dave Iltis

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! 

 

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