In the second installment of the Edmonton Canada Cup, Husky Feature Racer series, I had a chance to catch up with a River Valley Cycle teammate of mine, Krystyn Ong. She’s been in the racing game for a while already and has a lot of experience and insight to offer. Here’s the Q & A:

So how did you get your start in cycling, and what was it that got you into racing?

I started cycling with the Dirtgirls cycling club in 2005.  They hosted a race that year called the Down and Dirty, and I decided to try racing in the U17 category.  I decided later I wanted to race more competitively so I joined a performance based club called Juventus and started working with their coaches the year after.

I know you used to race road, so what was it that made you switch over to mountian?

Well, actually, I started out mountain biking, but then raced both for a while.  Now I am just racing mountain bike, cross-country and downhill, even though I still train on a road bike. I really prefer racing mountain bike because I like technical riding and being out in the wilderness.

Once you started racing, did things come easy? Was it a pretty quick move up into the women’s Elite category?

It wasn’t until after about four years of racing that I moved into Elite for mtb, and I actually spent about 3 years in women’s Novice because I would never win! My first couple of races were definitely the most difficult ones I can remember. I did a lot of sports before starting cycling though so that helped a lot with my racing fitness. But I don’t think racing ever will be easy, so it’s a good thing I enjoy figuring out my body as an athlete and trying to train as smart as I can.

So, what’s the women’s mtb scene like in Alberta?

It’s a very small field right now. I think there are so many athletic women in other sports that would do very well in cycling if they tried it out. There are many very talented mountain bike racing women from Alberta, though.

Did you manage to keep up with your training throughout the winter and how do you try keep motivated?

I am in school for the fall and winter semesters at the U of A, and so cross-training can be very difficult to manage with school. I’ve always tried to be a well rounded athlete with training, so I do different things to not get sick of the bike. During the fall I ran cross-country at the U of A and rock climbed for core and upper body strength. I swim and XC ski during the school year, and go for winter mountain bike rides on weekends. My biggest problem is to not overtrain myself, so having 5 courses a semester helps keep me more balanced.

Krystyn Ong

What sort of racing goals have you set for yourself this year?

This year is organized very differently for me, because I did the Canada Summer Games last year and that was my focus in racing for the four years before they were held. I want to peak for xc mountain biking nationals in Canmore, and to do well cross country running in the fall. Racing wise, really I just want to stay consistent in my results and hopefully keep moving up in the Elite field.

Okay, last question. What kind of things do you think the bike shops, Alberta Mountain Bike Racing, or the ABA can do to attract more women to the sport?

I think giving ‘how to get started clinics’ that show all the equipment needed, bike maintenance, basic riding skills, and directions to some trails would be really helpful in getting people started. A lot of girls are afraid of going on rides with other people because they feel they’ll be too slow, so having beginner club rides could help out with that. Mountain biking is still very male dominated and there is a bit of a stereotype that it is a crazy ‘butch’ sport. But, it’s actually a lot of fun and is a really good way to get fit, relieve stress, improve balance, and increase self confidence. It’s also a lot more fun than a treadmill or Stairmaster!