A few days after finishing her mountain bike season, Georgia Gould of Team Luna Chix, started off her cyclocross racing season with a third place at CrossVegas. After finishing third twice at the first US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (USGP) weekend in Madison the following weekend, Gould had planned to return home for a bit of a break, to rest her body.
“But I got tired of sitting in Colorado while my husband (Dusty, team mechanic for Kona’s Trebon and Wicks) had fun with cyclocross out east. So I booked a ticked Tuesday for a flight Thursday.” Gould made her way to the “Queen Weekend” of the MAC Powered by SRAM Cyclocross Series where she dominated the two races to solo to victory at muddy Granogue and cold and windy Wissahickon.
I had a chance to chat with the 29-year old Gould a few weeks ago after she had just finished chatting with and answering questions from a young fan and cyclocross racer. During our conversation, Gould would run from barrier to barrier to yell out her support for her team manager who was racing in the masters category.
With mountain biking being her focus, Gould doesn’t really train specifically for cross much except for adding running to her cross training in the fall.
“Cyclocross has been something that I was interested in and the team was like ‘yeah we’ll try’. Alison had raced cross, they were interested in having a cross program but it definitely took a back burner to the mountain biking. I don’t really change much to the way that I train or anything and generally, I don’t have any time off after mountain bike racing so I just take that fitness and go right into cross with that. I do start running more in the fall, more to mix it up and do something different then for the running in the cross race because you’re never running long enough for that to make such a difference.”
Doing it for fun but still a strong competitor.
“I don’t really change too much, this is more for fun, obviously I try hard just because it’s not my focus doesn’t mean that I don’t take it seriously. As the same time, you can’t expect from yourself to be one hundred percent all year long. I don’t put the same pressure on myself for cross racing because otherwise it’s not fun.”
After exploding onto the mountain bike scene in 2006 with a win at the U.S. National Mountain Bike Championship, Georgia steam-rolled the domestic competition for two years, dominating the field again in ’08 to take the U.S. National Series Title. She then capped off the year with an overall win in the National Cyclocross Series NACT. She also made an appearance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and scored a respectable 8th place, an incredible accomplishment considering it was only her second year of World Class racing.
But she admitted that while her 2009 mountain bike season was good, “it wasn’t as good as my last few years have been.”
“If I have an off year and it’s still as good as it was, then I’ll take it. It was definitely not anything to be really upset about, I’m definitely looking forwards to next season, and a little bit of time off. “
For the past three years Gould had raced at all mountain bike events, all the cross races and didn’t really take any time off. So this year, she is reducing her scheduling, planning to race at all the four USGP events and National Championships and for anything above that, “I’m playing by ear.”
So did the three years of back to back racing finally catch up with her in 2009?
“I think you just get tired, your body just can’t do. It’s fine as long as you can but when I’m noticing that I’m getting tired, well maybe it’s time that I take a little more time in the fall or winter but I really like cross so it’s hard for me to be cutting back because I want to go and there are so many great events.” answered Gould.
“I would love to go to all of them and help the promoters grow their races but you have to also take care of yourself so you can be someone that the promoters want to have at the races.” Gould continued with a laugh.
It’s not just the body that gets tired, but it can also be taxing mentally but Gould credits her team for the huge support throughout the years.
“It’s hard but that’s part of it. We’re professional, we have a great support staff. Luna is one of the most professional, I would say the most professional team out there, men, women, anything so I feel really lucky to have really good mechanic, really good team manager that minimizes the stress that we have to deal with ‘okay I’ll email you your plane tickets and you just have to show up at the airport’ and that kind of stuff,… for someone to organize all the stuff, and the hotels, it really makes a big difference and I feel that the least I can do is show up and so my best. They do a great job.”
So why race cross instead of going back home to rest and train for the next mountain bike season? Easy, it’s fun.
“Cross, right now in the US is growing and has all this energy and people are really excited about it, It’s a fun festival atmosphere. As a racer at this time of year, especially after you’ve done a whole mountain bike season or road season, you are a little burned out or a little well you’re not as excited as you are in March, so having extra people out there ringing cow bells and banging on a pot and wearing a crazy costume, that totally makes it fun as a racer. And you know, it’s fun to come out and watch these races, I like to come out early and see the Masters guys. It’s really fun to watch the races.”
With her Luna teammates Katerina Nash and Alison Dunlap who is returning to racing after 4-year hiatus, the Luna Chix had they eyes on the USGP overall title.