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Meet the (Pro) Athlete: Kathryn Donovan

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Kathryn (Katie) Donovan is a professional bike rider for Colavita women’s pro team (yes, that is her job!), 4 a.m. coffee drinker, avid gym sauna-goer, delicious burger connoisseur, and pit bull mama. As someone who has made a habit of trying to hang out with her, I also detect a smidgen of elusiveness.  Katie once raced triathlon professionally, but then decided to switch to cycling since it was her weakest triathlon leg and she enjoys a challenge. She is incredibly humble for someone as super-womanly as she, and is also quite a talented writer– you can check out her twitter feed or team Colavita blog for evidence. If you ever find yourself in a Southern California mountain range, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the back of her jersey…

Current place of residence: Oxnard, CA
Hometown/place of birth: Phoenix, AZ
Favorite sports or hobbies (besides cycling): Yoga, swimming and running
Best cycling skill: Climbing
Dream race: A full women’s Tour of California with all the same stages as the men
Race mantra: hmm….. I need some race mantras! Colavita’s team mantra is “Hold the Rope” (If you have a mantra suggestion for Katie, please leave your offering in the comments below.  If Katie decides to go with yours, you might get some kind of prize.)

Favorite book: The Little Prince

When/how/why did you start endurance sports? I have been an athlete all my life. I swam throughout college. Sports have always been a great release for me. I’m very competitive but not very coordinated so endurance sports are a natural fit.

Hardest race and/or workout you’ve ever completed: Leadville. It was my first time riding a Mountian Bike and I remember it being the first time I was happy just to finish a race.

Most memorable training and/or race moment(s): There are a lot of ups and downs in racing, but each year is memorable. It’s why I keep coming back. I try not to focus on one particular high moment.

If you had to switch sports, what would you switch to, and why? Marathon Running. Running is awesome because you can do it anywhere and need very little equipment.

Words of wisdom to someone dreaming of becoming a professional cyclist: Enjoy every step of the process and surround yourself with good people.

Hardest part about being a professional athlete/cyclist: I love traveling but sometimes it gets hard being away from home for long periods of time. It takes effort to balance cycling life with friends and family.

Pre-race ritual or superstition? I’m not superstitious. The closest thing I have to a pre-race ritual is eating a huge breakfast the morning of a race.

Training tips? Keep it fun. Sometimes being too regimented can be counter-productive.

Training pet peeve: When strangers try to tell me how to train. (Refrain from offering training suggestions in the comments below.  Mantra suggestions only, please.)

Why do you keep cycling? I love it !

What do you eat before training sessions? I train in the morning so I make oatmeal and add peanut butter, applesauce, and anything else I think would taste good into the mix.

What is your favorite thing to eat during training? I like Eggo pancake sandwhiches with almond butter and honey.

What is your favorite post-training meal? a Hamburger

What does “Fuel” mean to you? Well, food is fuel and if you’re eating to fuel yourself then you want to put the most efficient fuels in your body.

What does being “Fit” mean to you? Staying active & eating healthy

What thing(s) do you always bring on a ride? a pump, sunscreen, my phone and lots of food

What story does your family/team always tell about you? They usually talk about me behind my back, so you’ll have to ask them 😉

Pick one:
Uphill, down hill, or flat? uphill
Road or trail? road
Solo or group training? solo
Chocolate or cheese? chocolate
Watch on your left wrist or right? left
Morning or evening workout? both !
Hat or visor? hat
Fingerless or full gloves? fingerless
Sleeveless or short sleeve jersey? short sleeve
Oatmeal or cereal? oatmeal
Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Coffee (notice that “Coffee” is capitalized whereas all other single-word answers are lower-cased.  I think this is subconscious emphasis on the supremacy of coffee.)

…Thanks for the glimpse into your superheroin life, Katie!

Meet the Athlete: PRO Edition

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It’s an honor to highlight Canadian professional cyclist, Shoshauna Routley, on the blog this morning. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Shoshauna during her stay in Ventura this winter, and she kindly agreed to share some tidbits with us. Enjoy!

Hometown: I grew up in Texas, then moved to Canada when I was 6.
Ethnic Background: My mom’s Philippino and my dad’s Canadian. Now that’s multicultural.
Cycling Team: BMW p/b Happy Tooth
Specialty: Tactician/ sprinter

Favorite accomplishment in cycling: Signing with BMW p/b Happy Tooth

Favorite non-cycling accomplishment:

I’ve had over a dozen different jobs: service clerk at Safeway, modeling, selling Purdy’s chocolates, greens keeping at a golf club, landscaping, serving at restaurants, and working as an “educator” at Lululemon. Somewhere mixed in with work, I received a degree in Horticulture and I have currently been picking away at a Kenisiology degree. I also have many other interests. After high school, I auditioned for a band and was chosen as a singer. And a few years back, I started a little homemade jewelry business, which was put on consignment at a cute boutique shop. I am happy with all of the different perspectives I have gained. I have picked away at accomplishing this valuable thing called “life experience”.

Non-cycling related hobbies:

At the moment, cycling takes up most of my time. In the Fall I take a full-time course load at Uni (University), and over the past year and a half I planned a wedding, got married, bought an old farm and have been renoing (renovating) this old farm/house during every spare moment. This includes planting a crop, fixing the roof, kitchen, bathroom, floors and windows. As athletes and with parental supervision and help, we were able to do everything ourselves and in a very short time period.

What brings you (and hubby, Will Routley) to California this “winter”?

This will be our 4th winter in California, not consecutively. The first time we came to California was when he (Will) raced for Jelly Belly. We stayed in Santa Cruz California for 2 winter seasons and discovered the wonders of California! Sunshine, amazing riding, great food, and perpetual beach sunsets. This year is our first year spending some time in Southern California and it’s amazing here too. I could move here in a heartbeat. I love the weather, the riding and being so close to the beach. It doesn’t matter how tired I am, I wake up and see that beautiful clear blue sky and I’m rebooted mentally. Some would call that “solar powered”.

Do you have an athletic background in sports other than cycling?

I actually don’t have an endurance background. I was a competitive gymnast from ages 7 to 12. In high school, I played team sports: a bit of volleyball, basketball and softball. I loved everything about sports, but my parents weren’t as supportive, so I never pursued sport despite having the drive and the talent.

How long ago did you take up cycling?

I got into cycling as an adult. I started riding a borrowed road bike from an old high school crush-turned-best friend (Marsh). I would go out with him and his sister maybe 5 times a year and I enjoyed it. He always thought I could be a fast biker and maybe that subconsciously sparked my interest, because consciously, I had been trained to believe that normal people couldn’t be professional athletes.

When did you first dream of becoming a professional cyclist, and why?

Eventually, Marsh invited me for dinner to meet one of his teammates. Little did I know that it was actually close to 7 of his team mates, Will Routley being one of them. I was being set up with a different rider, but Will snuck in there and called me the next day to go for coffee. Two years later, he bought me a road bike and we toured around Australia for the winter. After putting in quite a few miles down under, I returned home and decided to give the racing thing a go. Like a moth to the flame, I couldn’t resist. For the first 2 years it was a hobby. I worked, raced, and had fun, but to get better I needed to commit. So, over the past 5 years, I went in whole hog and wound up here.

1267218_10201852095764819_1436238536_oShoshauna and husband, Will Routley

What are your goals for 2015?

I really hope to get some bigger results personally but I also hope to get a team result at every race. I think there will be a lot of different strengths between our team’s riders and if we work together, and race tactically, we will be the “little team that could”. You don’t have to have the strongest women on a team to win, but you do need them to be dedicated to the overall result, ego aside.

Other long-term aspirations?

When I finish racing, I will finish my degree in Kinesiology and either continue into a teaching program or start my own coaching business and work with youth in the sport.

Top 3 favorite things about being a professional athlete:

  1. The healthy lifestyle. I am so much more educated and interested in the food that I eat and the chemicals that I’m exposed to or trying to avoid.
  2. The traveling is such a thrill. I love seeing new places and getting to know an area. Riding your bike exposes an area and all of its quirks. It allows you to take in the area and relish in the moment. You’re free, and it’s beautiful.
  3. Making gains on the bike, and pushing your body a little more than you did the last time.

Least favorite things about being a professional athlete:

Rejection, not achieving a goal, and overcoming an injury. These three things happen a lot in this sport and they can be really stressful to deal with. At the end of the season, waiting to hear back from teams is a very stressful period for most roadies (road cyclists).

Favorite thing about being married to another professional cyclist:

We help motivate one another and are each others’ biggest fans and supporters. We both understand the challenges that come with cycling and are more apt at dealing and overcoming them together.

Favorite place(s) so far you’ve visited for training/racing, and why:

We have lived in Australia, Southern and Northern California, Carcassonne, France, Belgium and Girona, Spain. I enjoyed living in all of these places and they all offered something a little different from the next.

Southern France was beautiful; we lived outside of what we would consider a giant castle. In Spain there are these wonderful markets with some of the best produce. In Belgium, the chocolate was amazing and I probably had a bit too much of it while I was there. Europe is amazing because the culture is significantly different from North America. They just do things a little differently from country to country and it’s so great to experience those differences. Europe also has so much history which shapes it’s exterior; old buildings, small cobbled streets and traditions passed down from family to family.

I also love California– the whole state. It feels like home now. We’ve logged a lot of miles on our car coming back and forth to California. And we’ve covered virtually the entire state, either on our bikes or in our car. There are unique little pockets from the local farmers with a free bird feel in Sebatopol, to Santa Cruz where hippies rule the roost, and now to Ventura, a place abound with lemons and avocado farms and sun-worshiping surfers. So far, I seem to be in favor of the world.

What advice would you give to an aspiring professional athlete?

Nothing worthwhile comes easy. If you want to be successful at something, it takes time and patience. If you want to do something, and you believe you have the ability, don’t hold back. Don’t let your insecurities or other peoples’ worry detract from your effort. It’s so easy to fall into a negative headspace and come up with reasons as to why you can’t. I have to frequently remind myself of this.

Huge thanks to Shoshauna for the thoughtful responses. Wishing her a very enjoyable and fast season with team BMW p/b Happy Tooth!