Ever wonder about pros athletes' diet routines? Here's your chance to find out. Click here and read more about Team Navitas pro mountain biker Katie Holden's nutrition habits, and her advice on the most beautiful and extreme places to ride.
Katie's 2011 season on the pro mountain bike tour is over, and now she is focusing on other cool endeavors, like coaching a new high school mountain bike team, promoting the Love to Ride women's program, and a community sports project in Jamaica.
It must be nice to have some downtime after the racing season, how did things go for you this year on the racing circuit?
It wasn't my most stellar year for racing. I've been injured mid-season the past two years, and I think that I came into this season a bit more reserved. As a result I didn't achieve my goals. Despite that, I learned a ton and I am getting myself lined up for a successful race season in 2012. Even though my race results weren't my best, I had one of my best years yet for community projects and I had a lot of fun. I recognized that maybe my head was not in the best spot for racing and instead of pushing myself and potentially getting injured again, I was able to tone it back and get some decent results while devoting a lot of my energy towards projects. I am ready for that top spot on the podium in 2012, this past season's challenges has only added more fuel on the fire.
How did you first get into mountain biking competition, and what advice do you have for other aspiring and talented ladies that love to ride mountain bikes, but perhaps have never tried racing?
I started riding in high school when my class trip to Europe was canceled. Every other trip was full except a bike trip and a film festival - I chose bikes. After a week of riding I was obsessed. I started competing about a year after that, mainly so that I could meet new people and ride new places. When you see the skill of all the other riders you can't help but want to improve- that is what really got me started.
My advice is to give racing a try no matter what your skill level or goals... you will become a better rider and you will meet lots of awesome people. Check out some bike festivals in your area to get to know the community. One thing that is really important is to keep riding with new people- if you do this you will always improve and I bet that by seeing visible improvements you will like it even more!
We are impressed with the community stuff that you are involved with. Tell us about the Love to Ride program, and are there any upcoming events and opportunities related to that?
I developed Love to Ride in 2010. As a girl, I know that getting into riding can be pretty tough sometimes... but once you get the ball rolling your life will never be the same. From experience I know that a lot of girls ride bikes that don't fit them and they tag along with the boys / boyfriends / husbands and while they love it, it is hard to find their own place in the riding community independent of the boys.
Love to Ride is a free program where I get together groups of three or four women of similar abilities in the same community. I get them on a bike that is set up for them, introduce them to a bike shop, work on a few basic skills, show them where the local trails are and take them out on a ride. I want to give them the resources to keep riding. After I leave, they can connect with other women in the area, they know where the trails are, and if something breaks they know where to get it fixed. It is great seeing everyone so excited on the rides—they just light up! It sounds like such a simple idea, but it seems to be the perfect recipe for women to get excited about bikes.
I just got back from New York, we rode a bike park in Manhattan of all places! That was a total blast. The winter Love to Ride will be focused around the San Francisco Bay Area. If you know anyone that might be interested give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will set up a ride. If you are not in the Bay Area, still get in contact with me and I will see what I can do!
The pro mountain bike circuit seems to visit some of the most scenic places on the planet, what are some of your favorite biking vistas?
Yes, we are very lucky – it is hard to beat mountain towns in the summer! As far as racing goes, I love Austria and Scotland. The mountains in Austria are stunning—the grass is so green and there are lots of cows. The Scottish Highlands are beautiful, too. When I was up there this past summer I climbed up Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, when I had some free time. Whistler British Columbia is my favorite. I live in California now, but I moved here from Whistler. I woke up there every morning thinking I live in the most beautiful place in the world.
You are sponsored by some amazing companies, I couldn't help noticing the cool pictures on your website from the Specialized 2012 catalog shoot, is that kind of project a fun part of your job?
Photo shoots are really fun... most of the time! Sometimes the days can be really long and you are out in the elements all day, but I love being outside. Last year we shot the 2011 Catalog out in Moab/Fruita—that place is just rad in every way possible. This year we shot the 2012 catalog in Sun Valley, ID. I had never been to Sun Valley, but it's now one of my favorite places—the riding is so, so good.
The First Gear project in Jamaica that you are working on sounds pretty fun and rewarding, can you tell us the latest news about that?
I went to Jamaica last February for the Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival. That was my first time visiting Jamaica and I totally fell in love with it. The people have this crazy energy and enthusiasm, the food is delicious and the trails are amazing. There are not many places where you can rip down epic singletrack and end on a Caribbean beach.
While I was there, I met a guy name Jonathan who was in charge of the Festival and who also does sports development for the area. It turns out that Jamaica just won a bid to get a BMX track put in with the help of USA Cycling—which was huge! So they are getting this big beautiful track built, but the bikes they are going to try and ride on it are frightening—not safe at all. Plus BMX is an Olympic sport so if they want to open some doors to that they have gotta get the right tools under them. When I got back home I presented the idea to Specialized and they were stoked on it and decided to donate a bunch of bikes to get it up and running. The process has been a little slow... Jamaica time! After the track is built I will head down for the bike delivery. I am so excited about this project—you don't even know!
What kind of bike styles do they ride down there in Jamaica? Have you ever taken one of their tricked-out, handcrafted bikes on a ride on tough terrain?
There are some CRAZY bikes down there! If I were to take one of those bikes on a trail I would want some serious protection. Even then, I still don't think I would ride them off-road. One of their favorite tricks is welding chains—so they have these chopper-style bikes.
What kind of injuries are most prevalent in mountain biking, and what kind of stretching, exercises and gear can be used to prevent them?
Unfortunately, shoulder injuries are really common, whether it be the AC Joint, Rotor Cuff, Dislocations or Collar Bones. It seems to happen to a lot of people eventually. Strength training and mobility can go a long way in avoiding these injuries. I work on strengthening all the big muscles and the little muscles... if you miss one or the other you are leaving the door wide open. Think about it this way—say you are strong, really strong and you can lift, pull, push whatever- awesome! But you have that strength and you can't move your shoulders in one way or you can hardly touch your toes. Well, if you can't touch them in the comfort of your home, what's going to happen when you hit the ground for real? I'm not saying that being flexible is going to avoid all injuries but if you have more mobility and you hit the ground, your body is already used to moving in weird positions and you might get lucky.
I spend about 15 minutes before every workout getting warmed up with windmills, inchworms, PVC pipe stretches, and lunges. I prime my body and go on to my workout. I think that this routine is almost as important mentally. In the evenings I will use my foam roller, bands and tennis ball to stretch out, too. I know that yoga and pilates work really well for some people, so that might be something to explore. As far as gear goes, I always wear a helmet, a Leatt brace (for downhill), knee pads and elbow pads.
Do you find that your diet plays a role in your overall performance and ability to recover from injury?
Absolutely. When I am competing, my diet is primarily fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and lean meats. My body responds best to this kind of high performance fuel in the engine. If I am training hard and putting good quality food into my body I recover much better and I feel that much better. One of my favorite quick meals is a smoothie. I love all of Navitas Natural's powders for this. I am not super picky about what specifically I put into my smoothie... usually I raid my fruit drawer, toss in some spinach, some blueberries, some nuts and whichever Navitas powder suits what I am after. I throw goji berries into almost everything, too. These smoothies keep my going for a long time and I love how my energy level is well balanced.
What is your favorite Navitas superfood?
I go through phases. When I am on the road I love the Trail Mixes and Navitas Power Snacks because they are so easy and give me just what I need. When I am craving chocolate I find the raw cacao nibs do the trick every time! Right now, since I am home and have time to cook, I like to play around with different stuff. I find an excuse to put coconut oil into everything—I'm kind of obsessed with coconut right now. I am not scared to throw whatever I have in and see how it tastes.
We love learning about what the pros eat on game day. What do you eat the day of a big race and what is the timing?
Since the timing for the gravity side of mountain biking is short (Downhill is 3-5 minutes and Enduro is 45 minutes), I don't eat while I am actually competing. I try and eat a really good breakfast in the morning, staying away from gluten. Since I don't race until mid-day, I usually just snack on nuts and fruits and maybe some tuna until I race. The key is to put premium fuel in that engine!