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Interview: Shelley Olds
By Staff
Date: 2/26/2009
Interview: Shelley Olds

†Interview: Shelley Olds
Shelley is the blonde haired hammer putting it down in events ranging from the Cat's Hill Road Race in Los Gatos, CA to the Beijing World Cup of Track Cycling in China.

By Adam Abramowicz

When one thinks of the top American Female cyclist names like Sarah Hammer, Brooke Miller, Mara Abbott, Tina Pic or maybe even Kristin Armstrong come to mind. A cyclist who is earning her credentials and slowly making her way into the aforementioned list of names, is Shelley Olds. Dominant in any race that includes the words mass- and -start from road to the track, Shelley is the blonde haired hammer putting it down in events ranging from the Cat's Hill Road Race in Los Gatos, CA to the Beijing World Cup of Track Cycling in China. Coming off of a great showing at the Copenhagen World Cup, we caught up with Shelley who is "benched" with the flu.

Adam: If you don't mind introducing yourself, why don't you tell the world and the readers a little bit about yourself...

Shelley: †Well, I live in Scotts Valley, California with my boyfriend of 5 years, Rob Evans. I feel very fortunate to be living in beautiful California, surrounded by mountains and ocean. I have at least ten 1,500-2,000-foot climbs I could ride on any given day right out my front door...too bad I am not much of a climber. I have one brother who has been my best friend my whole life. Heís my biggest fan in cycling and he and my family support me unconditionally.

Iíve been a competitive athlete my whole life. I played soccer at Roanoke College in Virginia for four years and captained the team as both a Junior and a Senior. I have 2 cats and 2 kittens and although I know that seems strange, I am not an eccentric cat-lady. They were having a 2 for 1 sale. What can you do?

I am a full-time coach and professional athlete. In the last few years, Iíve traveled the world to do something I love. I feel like a very lucky girl. Hereís one of my favorite quotes, ďReach for the stars and even if you donít get there, you will end up somewhere on the horizon.Ē

Shelley before the Tour of CaliforniaWomen's Race last year, getting pinned by my teammate. I finished fourth.

Shelley, you mentioned that you have the flu. It's freezing and raining in Northern California right now...why are you just getting back from a training ride? You should be in bed!

I opted to just stay inside and ride the rollers. Iíll wait until the weather gets nice again before I go outside. Iím not going to stay sick longer than I need to.

What does your training routine include? Mostly on the road, or mostly on the track?

When I am in the middle of my track-season, I will ride the track up to two times a week. I actually do most of my training on the road.

You are fortunate to have one of the best Velodrome's in America, in your backyard. Hellyer Park Velodrome has produced some amazing athletes on the track in recent years: Larry Nolan, Daniel Holloway and some girl who goes by the name of it something in the water?

Yes, I am extremely fortunate to be able to race and train with some of the best elite and master cyclists in the world. California certainly breeds some really good athletes, because we can train year-round here, especially on the track. Other than ADT, 6 hours south in Los Angeles, Hellyer is the only track around. In the last few years, the city has put a lot of money into renovating the track and that has attracted a lot of new cyclists to the track scene.

Participation and membership has increased dramatically in the last year alone. There are so many amazing volunteers at Hellyer who sacrifice their time year-round to allow us multiple opportunities to train and race at the track. Beginning in April, we have at least two nights of racing a week and that goes straight through September. We are very fortunate.

Nationals 2008: In the pack during the Scratch Race, which I won.

At the Great American Velodrome Classic, our tents were neighbors in the infield. Between races you were lounging with your PROMAN teammates and I couldn't help but notice the 8-pack you were rocking. No matter how much I ride, how diligently I diet or how many sit-ups I do....I still can't get rid of my college beer storage unit that is attached firmly on my belly. What's your secret?

Although nutrition is a critical component for success and staying healthy as a cyclist, I try not to focus too much on diet. I eat what makes me feel good when I ride. I know what makes me feel bad, so I avoid those types of food. So, naturally I choose healthy foods and try to keep variety and balance in my diet. Yes, I do a few Pilates exercises here and there, but mostly just to make sure my core stays strong to support the rest of my body on the bike.

Not only are you one of the sport's greatest athletes, you're an Associate Coach for Whole Athlete and I hear that you coach the Stanford Women's Cycling're a busy gal! Have you always wanted to be a coach?

I am really passionate about coaching. Iíve known for as long as I have been an athlete that I would eventually end up coaching. I love sharing my experience with others, I love watching people succeed, and ultimately I love teaching. Coaching brings me a lot of happiness and itís something I truly enjoy doing.

You grew up Massachusetts. What prompted your move to Northern California?

I was born and raised near Boston for 19 years, before heading off to College in Virginia at Roanoke College. After leaving for college, my father got transferred to a job in California, so I naturally followed when I graduated from Roanoke. Although I feel my roots are on the East coast, I am very happy on the west coast and I donít see myself moving back any time soon.

The World Cup Podium picture is Copenhagen 2009, Points Race Bronze

With every World Cup event you compete in, your results keep getting better and better. Tell us a little bit about how the legs were feeling in Copenhagen during your ride to 7th place overall?

Well, actually my best result so far was in Copenhagen and it was better than 7th. I actually got to step up on the podium for the first time as I finished 3rd in the Points Race.

International track racing is really tough. Youíve got representation from all of the strongest countries in the world. Each country sends their riders to contest the World Cups in order to qualify their best riders for the World Championships. Itís no joke. I absolutely love it.

The women I get to race against are some of the best cyclists in the world and they arenít holding back at all when it comes to these races. In the States, I often choose to race with the men because of small fields and negative racing in the womenís field. At the World cups, there is never a dull moment, the racing is exciting, and the women are extremely talented bike riders.

You race in mainly mass start events, are there any other events in particular that you like to compete in?

Iíve been doing the Team Pursuit for the National Team and I really enjoy the event. However, it is truly in the development stage and we are working on getting stronger so we can be competitive at the World level. There is an omnium for the first time at the World Championships this year, and that is something I would be interested in doing in the future. All of the events are shortened and take place on the same day.

The events are a flying 200m, a standing start 500m, a 2k pursuit, a 5km Scratch Race, and a 10km Points Race. Also, womenís Madison racing is becoming more prevalent internationally with the introduction of womenís 6-day racing in Europe. We will have an Exhibition event at Nationals this year, so you can be sure I will be racing that event and looking to win. Madison racing is points racing with a partner. Itís my favorite race.

The Madison Picture is from the Rotterdam 6-day this year.† I won an Elimination Race there and that was my first international victory.

Another hometown trackie and Garmin boy Daniel Holloway was there in Copenhagen. Can you explain to us what the "F" is up with his podium sunglasses?† I swear my father wore those at work softball games in the '80s.

Daniel is definitely a character, but he has every right to be. He is a total stud on the track. The kid has so much potential, itís scary. He has already become a household name in Europe for his appearances at several 6-day races over the winter. He has adopted the name ďHollywoodĒ because of those very glasses you mentioned. Daniel is someone I look up to and respect very much as a cyclist. I also consider him a good friend.

To the people who know you personally or stalk your successes via the interwebs...we know that your number one goal is to race in the Olympics. Has your campaign for the Olympics started yet? What steps do you need to take in order to prove that you should be red, white and bluing it in London for 2012?

My campaign started as soon as I became an athlete. I knew from the moment I was introduced to sports that I wanted to compete at the highest levels. Itís in me. I have so much passion for sport, I would be robbing myself if I did anything else. Every day I take steps towards 2012. It is a process and it takes place in everything I do. Having said that, I like to live in the moment and take each day as it comes. So, although racing in London in 2012 is always in the back of my mind, I am taking small steps and living life to itís fullest along the way, always appreciating the small successes and learning from my mistakes.

Shelley, your bike was stolen right before Nationals...that must have been a crazy thing to go through. You were very fortunate to have retrieved it, how?

The thief decided that my 47cm frame with no brakes, carbon wheels with tubulars, and a 92-inch gear was not ideal for commuting so he/she returned it to a house down the street thinking it was the same house he stole it from. Itís a good thing they didnít know what the bike was worth. It might have been hard to sell it without getting caught though. We had people everywhere looking for the bike.

I was living in Northern California at the time, word certainly got out. I remember talks of a Shelley's Bike Search Team being formed.

You can do it all. You win out of bunch sprints, out of breakaways and in solo fashion on the road. How would you classify yourself as a rider? Better yet, what's your favorite way to win?

The hard way. I donít like to get bored in races. Sometimes I hate being a sprinter because youíre supposed to just sit and wait and hope that the race plays out the way you want it to. Thatís why I love track racing, there is no waiting, it's just pure racing lap after lap.

You've got a great crew of gals that you race with at PROMAN, including cyclocross superstar Rachel Lloyd, how long have you been with the team?

Iíve been with the team since I started racing bikes and I am not going anywhere. I am very happy with PROMAN. I love my teammates, the management and everyone that is associated with the team. I think we have great sponsors and Iím really proud to be a part of this team.

What is your favorite training food?

Any training I do always starts with a cup of DoubleShot Coffee at home, then my favorite on the bike food is a Maple-Nut Clif-Bar. They go best with an Amaretto Latte at a coffee shop mid-ride.

What is your favorite training-is-over food?

Indian Food.

Do you have any hidden talents that you're willing to share with the readers?

I really enjoy cyclo-cross. I ran and played soccer in college, so cross is a great fit. Unfortunately, it's just too hard to juggle cross and track racing in the winter....and until they make cross an Olympic sport, track will remain my focus....perhaps a cross season in 2013?

Does Shelley Olds twitter?

Not yet, but I am sure itís only a matter of time.

Is "Hey, nice chamois," an appropriate/acceptable way to pick up a girl at a race?

Seriously? No. Neither is asking if you can smell my seat.

I hope that no one has actually asked you that. Eww.

If bicycles didn't exist, what would I be interviewing you for/about instead?

Soccer, or running Track. Or maybe about my debilitating injuries from trying to be a distance runner.

Do you think you can dance?

I love that show. I have some skills especially after big results. I call it the happy dance. Itís really good.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

Iím faster!

Pretend you just called in to your favorite Top-40 radio station and won tickets to see your favorite band...go ahead and make your Shout-Outs!...

†Iíd like to give a shout out to my girls on the Hit Squad, my coaches Dario and Rich, my brother and Lindy, my Mom, Dad and Jon, and most of all to my man, Rob, and the kitties.

Shelley Olds is unmistakably one of the fastest rising stars in American Cycling, slowly shining her way into the World Arena. She's fast, she's focused, she's talented...and did I say she's fast? This interviewer wishes her the best of luck on her journey towards the stars, hopefully it will land her somewhere near the 2012 London Olympic horizon.

Photos courtesy of Shelley Olds, you can keep up with Shelley on her website and the Proman Woman's team site:
Proman Women's Cycling Team
Shelly Olds Website
Whole Athlete Coaching

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