Meet Natasha, a teenager making headway in local and state races and working her way to not only nationals, but to new racing styles as well. She’s traditionally a mountain biker but working on road and TT racing as well. This year she set out to get in the top 5 of the Sea Otter (last year she placed 1st but she’s in a new age category). She’s an inspiration, read on to learn more about her, her racing and training strategy and where you may be able to find her in her hometown.
- Was there a pivotal moment where you fell in love with cycling?
I don’t think there was one moment where I fell in love with cycling, but instead about a dozen individual moments. One was when I was riding my cyclocross bike next to the Deschutes River in early fall. I was out for an easy ride the day after a race and decided to take a little detour on a gravel road. Something about the quiet sound of my tires on the ground and the view of the cold grey water made me feel so at peace. I felt so immersed in nature as I moved at the speed of the river. I know that moment just wouldn’t have been the same walking, running, or in a car.
- How did you get started in competing?
I got into racing when my dad signed me up for Bend’s local Chainbreaker mountain bike race. Although I didn’t have an immediate love for it, I slowly got more and more into racing as I competed more and more.
- How does team/competition life fit in with school? How do you find balance?
Although fitting everything in in a given day can be difficult, I typically prioritize cycling. This may sound strange coming from someone who cares more about school work than bikes, but I’ve learned from coaches, parents, and even my Freshman health class that mental and physical health are connected. I know that the key to my academic success lies in staying healthy physically. That being said things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes I have to skip or push back a workout in order to study for an exam or finish a project. But when I can, I try to strike a good balance between cycling and school work because I understand how they directly affect each other.
- What's your diet like? How do you stay on track when traveling for competitions?
Although I’m not perfect, I try to stick to an optimal cycling diet. This diet normally includes quite a bit a complex carbs, a decent amount of protein, and a relatively low amount of fat. However, when I’m traveling this diet changes. Because I typically travel the night before an event, I have to adjust my food to prepare for the next day’s race. The common consensus in the cycling community is that one or two day before an event you shift your diet to almost completely exclude oils and replace complex carbs with simpler ones, like white bread. This means that when I travel for racing I have to either pack my own food or be very careful about what and where I eat.
- What is your go-to gear for race day?
Either my zero waste kit or my AirPods. In my kit I have a bamboo spork I got my parents for their anniversary that they never used, a very small towel to cut down on the amount of paper towels I use, and a collapsible metal straw.
- What are your favorite trails around Bend?
Whoops and South Fork
- What was your favorite race course?
Although most people don’t tend to like it, The Coast Hills Classic will always have a special place in my heart. Aside from always having good races there, I love that course because it’s almost always a little bit muddy.
- If we were in Bend, where could we find you when you aren't on your bike?
If it’s during the summer you could probably find me up at one of Bend’s beautiful lakes either paddle boarding or camping. If it was a bit colder you could probably find me walking around downtown with my friends, skiing up at Mt. Bachelor, or, although it’s not super glamorous, at home studying for my next AP test.