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Interview: Katie Compton
By Bart Hazen
Date: 11/6/2009
Interview: Katie Compton

Interview: Katie Compton

Interview with current World Cup leader, World Class Coach and one of the best female CX riders in history Katie Compton..

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Katie Compton, I'm a US cyclocross racer and riding for the Planet Bike team.

Why did you choose cycling, especially cyclocross and MTB, as your sport?
Because I love riding my bike. I've been doing it since I was a little girl and was hooked from the beginning. I enjoy the technical aspects of off road riding and it's more fun than the road.

Which hobbies do you have next to cycling?
Skiing in the winter, driving our BMW M3 in the summer, track (velodrome) racing, mtb riding, following F1, cooking, drinking wine, reading, playing with the dogs.

Katie Compton in action during the 2009 CX World Championships in Hoogerheide
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

How do you look back on the early part of the CX season with the win in Treviso and lots of races on American soil like Las Vegas, Sun Prairie, Covington, Middletown etc.?
I'm super excited with the way the season has started. I'm riding well and have had some great races so far. I've also managed to avoid my leg cramping issues so far this year, so any time I can do that, I'm a happy person. It's a long season so I hope to keep this form and build on it.

Due to your win in Treviso you are the first leader of the 2009/2010 World Cup. Is the World Cup a goal for you this year? You already have a comfortable lead on girls like Vos and Kupfernagel who recently started their season.
Yes, winning the World Cup overall is an important goal of mine this season. I'm off to a great start but there's a lot of racing left to do. I'm looking forward to races with Hanka and Vos because they will help make the races more exciting.

You have won a silver (2007) and a bronze (2009) medal at CX World Championships. How do you see your chances to gain the missing gold medal at the World Championships in Tabor?
I think I have a good chance this year, as long as I come in with good form and the course is hard and technical, I'm confident I'll have a great race.

Katie Compton finished as second in last season's World Cup of Pijnacker
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

What is a typical training week and preparation towards a big race looks like?
It all depends on where I am in my training period and how much travel I have to do prior to the race. I ride anywhere from 12-19hrs/week with long aerobic intervals and also cross specific high intensity. I make sure to get plenty of recovery and rest in the week prior to a race. My training differs from a typical pro's training plan in the amount of recovery I need. Due to my leg cramping issues, I have to add more recovery to the plan and need more easy days than most in order to feel good. I still manage to get all the necessary workouts in to ride fast, I just can't follow a typical periodization.

What kind of CX races/race conditions you like the most?

The harder and more technical the better.

Last year you missed a part of the season with a chronic leg cramping issue. Is this problem totally solved or how do they control it?
It's always there so I just have to manage the symptoms and try my best to avoid the cramping. It puts me off the bike for 3-4 weeks at a time so I need to make sure I do everything I can to stay healthy. They are also extremely painful so I get really cranky since I can't ride or do much of anything when they come on. I just have to wait it out till my legs finally recover. There isn't any cure for it so I'm proactive about moving around and stretching when I travel and I never take a day off the bike since rest days seem to trigger an episode. If I don't have time to ride then I get on the rollers for at least 30min a day. Now I travel with rollers too so I can always spin my legs out.

Compton won three World Cups last season. She won in Koksijde, Nommay and Roubaix
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

What performance/achievement you are the most proud of in your career thus far?
Winning the gold medal in the 3km tandem pursuit with my partner at the Athen's Paralympic Games. It was a great ride and I had great legs, the kind of legs where you just want to go faster and faster because you can. And winning the Roubaix cross World Cup last year because the conditions were tough and I overcame an amazingly bad start to win the race.

What race(s) has been a favorite of yours?
Koksijde World Cup and Asper-Gavere because they are tough, technical races.

Some might know you have won two gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal at the Paralympics together with your blind partner Karissa Whitsell. Any chance to consider it again in a later stage of your career with another partner? It was a problem back than to combine both because riders were not allowed to enter any bicycle races which award UCI points.
Yes, I would race tandems again if the opportunity arises. I really enjoyed racing on the tandem and got a lot out of it. It made me stronger and taught me how to train better too. I love the speed and the teamwork factor, it feels so great when two riders mesh well and can ride fast. Karissa and I had lots of success racing together and made a good team.

Compton took the bronze medal at the 2009 Worlds in Hoogerheide
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

You and your husband have coaching programs for beginner athletes to world class athletes. What is the program all about?
We have both coached for a long time, I was a coach before I was a pro cyclist. I still coach about 12-15 athletes of all levels and disciplines and really enjoy it. It keeps me busy all year. Mark still coaches as well and he has about 5-8 athletes at one time. Since he has quite a bit more bike work to do than I, he doesn't have time to coach many more than that. We don't advertise our services and mainly pick new athletes up through referrals so we can keep a manageable level of work.

Cyclocross isn't a Olympic Sport. More and more CX riders start to combine CX and MTB, like Sven Nys for example, in order to compete for their country at the 2012 Olympics in London. Do you have any plans for the 2012 Olympic MTB event? And does that mean as from 2011 more MTB races, less CX races. Or just combining them like you do now.
I've always been a mountainbiker and did that before I started cross and before I was good at cross. This year I started doing more mtb races at the top level to see how I fair at that, and I'm happy with my results so far. There is still room for improvement and mtb racing is something I want to race better. I will make 2012 a goal of mine and will have to trim back the cross racing a bit prior to 2012 in order to do that, but I never cut cross completely. If I can realistically qualify for the Olympics then it's something I will work towards 100%. I think racing cross makes me a better racer in general so I will always have that in my plan. Mtb racing requires the ability to be a great climber, which isn't something I do naturally well, so I really have to train that aspect of my racing in order to compete at the top level of the sport. That is something I will do but cross is still what I love the most and think is much more fun than mtb racing. Cross is just a faster more dynamic race. Sometimes I feel like I'm racing in slow motion on the mtb, and it's about as exciting as watching paint dry.

How do you combine coaching with your career as a bike racer?

Coaching fits in well with our schedule. We can coach from anywhere and do it along with traveling, unlike many jobs. I like having something else to think about other than my own training and racing. Also, racing while coaching keeps our minds fresh with how intervals feel, how fatigue effects your training, as well as how traveling and stress can have an impact on your results. We feel we can empathize with our athletes better because we are consistently feeling those emotions, and if you're away from racing and training for too long, you can forget how they effect your daily training.

Katie Compton on her best in the tough races
Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

Who has inspired you, or currently inspires you to race?
I don't have anyone that inspires me to race. I've always just loved riding my bike and racing is a part of that. I want to be the best that I can and that is a motivator in itself. I like the feeling of being tired and how kicking my own ass makes me tougher. I do have some friends I train with along with my husband to push me every day and can make training more enjoyable, but I can't think of any one person who inspires me to do this. I think the feeling of winning is all the inspiration I need to push myself and suffer in training.

What are your goals for the remaining 2009/2010 season? and if you don't mind…. long term career goals as a person and cyclist?
I actually don't ever think about long term goals, I don't know what I want to do 2 years from now, let alone my "long term" plans. I know for this year, my goals are to win the World Cup overall, win cross worlds and win nationals. Not sure what I want to do after that, cycling wise. I guess if I don't accomplish one or more of those goals this season then those will carry on to be my goals in the coming years. If I can qualify for Olympics on the mtb then that will be a goal. As for plans after cycling, I'm thinking about going back to school for nursing and then we'll see after that. As long as my husband and I are happy with what we are doing then we'll be satisfied with whatever the outcome is.


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