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Interview: 2012 U.S Olympian Shelley Olds
By Luke Allingham
Date: 7/16/2012
Interview: 2012 U.S Olympian Shelley Olds
Shelley Olds is a 31 year old female professional cyclist who comes from Groton, Massachusetts, USA. She played soccer while in college before moving out to the West in California. While in California, Shelley found the sport of cycling. She began racing at the age of 26 and still is to this day. She currently rides for the Dutch-based professional cycling team, AA Drink/Leontien Cycling and lives full-time in LíEstartit, Spain.

In the 2012, Shelley has not only won at the 2012 Giro Donne and at the 2012 UCI Road World Cup in Chongming Island, China as well as netting herself good results all across Europe, but she has also been chosen to ride on Team USA at the 2012 London Olympics in the women's road race.

Daily Peloton caught up with Shelley just a few weeks before she heads to London to race in the Olympic road race in Team USA colors.

Olds headshot Shelley Olds (AA Drink/Leontien Cycling). Photo © Shelley Olds

Luke Allingham- Can you please introduce yourself to our readers. (Be sure to tell us about your college studies, siblings, foreign languages spoken if any, etc)

I grew up in Groton, Massachusetts. It is a small town north of Boston. I have only one brother, Jake. He is two years older than me, and one of my best friends. He lives in Arizona with his wife, Lindy. I left Groton for good when I went away to school at Roanoke College in Virginia. I studied Exercise Science and played soccer there for four years. When I graduated, my family had moved out to California for my dadís business, so I finished school and went out West. It was when I moved to California that I found cycling. I met a group of people who were avid cyclists and I started riding every day. It sure beat running to stay in shape. It was new and interesting for me, and I could compete in a different race every weekend. I started commuting to work, then mountain biking on the back of a tandem, then track cycling, then mountain bike racing, then road racing, cyclo-cross and track racing. Before I knew it, I was racing World Cup track events in Australia, China, and Europe. It was crazy how fast it all happened. I didn't have time to think about where I was and who I was competing against. My first year racing Track World Cups was 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics. I actually raced on the Beijing velodrome the winter before the Olympics were held there. 4 years later, I am racing in the Olympic Road Race.

I am now living full-time in LíEstartit, Spain. I have an apartment located on the first line in front of the ocean. It is like heaven to me there. I am racing for the Dutch-based team AA Drink/Leontien Cycling, so having a base in Europe to live and train makes travel to races and training camps much easier. I also have a French bulldog named Jazz.

Luke Allingham- You played soccer in your past, what caused you to switch sports? How old were you when you started cycling?

I only stopped playing soccer because after I finished college, I moved immediately to California where I didnít have a team and my first priority was to find a job and start working. However, if you ask me what my favorite sport is, I will still say soccer. I always regretted not following through with my soccer career. I dreamed of being a part of a professional team and playing for the USA Team in the Olympics. The thing I love most about soccer is the feeling of being a part of a team. Everyone on the field has a role to play. No one is an individual. If the team wins or loses, it is the team that takes the responsibility. You canít have a match without 11 players doing their job and you can only win when everyone does their job well. And in the final, whatever happens, you lose or you celebrate together. Cycling is a little different, and I love the sport for different reasons. I feel lucky to have found cycling. I was 26 years old when I first found cycling as a sport.

Luke Allingham- You've been selected to represent the United States at the 2012 London Olympics, what were your reactions when you heard the news?

I was ecstatic, but I was in the middle of a competition in Italy and I happened to be staying that night with 3 other teammates in a small hotel room. Because of the time difference between Europe and America, I got the news at around midnight and I was laying in bed with all the lights. My teammates were asleep but I could hardly contain myself. I jumped out of bed, left the room and called my mother. The whole hotel was quiet and all I wanted to do was scream. I remember talking to my parents on the phone and all of us crying and laughing and them yelling and me whispering. It was a funny scene. I wish I was a fly on the wall for that oneÖ.

Luke Allingham- In London, you will be joined by Evelyn Stevens, Amber Neben and Kristin Armstrong in the road race, do you feel that USA Cycling has chosen a strong team to send to London?

Absolutely. I believe that USA Cycling chose the best team for the course in London. I believe that each of us is capable of having a great performance in the race and that if we race like a team, we can be very successful. I feel like I am a part of a team of extremely talented riders with both experienced veteran riders, and new and enthusiastic riders like myself and Evie. I think it is a perfect combination and I am excited to race with my team.

a few words Shelley in a USA Cycling jersey. Photo © Shelley Olds

Luke Allingham- Do you think Team USA will be able to claim a medal or place high in the Olympics this year? Where do you predict the team will place?

Yes, I believe that Team USA can very likely win a medal in the Olympics. We have proven over the course of the last four years, and especially in the 2012 season, that we are capable of winning against the best in the World. I am sure that we can be on the podium in London.

Luke Allingham- How have you personally been preparing and training for the 2012 Olympics since the team was announced?

I believe that it is the same for a lot of countries. You donít know for sure if you will make the team until just one month before the Games. So, you have to prepare as if you are going to race from the beginning of the season, but really starting in the off-season. I am fortunate that I am a part of team that fully supports me in my Olympic pursuit and has since I signed with AA Drink at the end of last year. My race program and training has all been designed to ensure that I am at my peak come the end of July. So, all is going exactly as planned. I finished the Giro last week and that was my last competition before the Olympic Games. It was excellent preparation and now I am just fine-tuning my fitness to make sure that I am 100 percent on July 29th. I have an excellent pair of coaches who have kept me on track this whole season and they have done a great job at keeping me focused on my goal and ready for each stage of my preparation.

Luke Allingham- What countries do you consider Team USA's biggest rivals?

Holland, Italy, and Germany.

Luke Allingham- If I am not mistaken, you currently live in Girona, Spain during the season. Do you believe that living and racing in Europe better prepares you better for the Olympics rather than living in the US and flying back and forth?

Yes. I have made a lot of sacrifices by moving overseas and the transition definitely wasnít easy. I miss my family a lot. I have had to adapt to a different currency, different languages, different eating habits, different lifestyles, etc. However, I believe that to really be able to learn and grow as a professional female cyclist, you have to race consistently against the best in the World. And the best riders in the World in road cycling, are in Europe. There are also an endless number of races here, and living within Europe makes it easy to travel back and forth to races. I think, to be competitive in Road World Championships and the Olympic Road Race, we as American cyclists have to learn how to win in Europe first.

Luke Allingham- I see that you have a launched a personal website, what other ways can cycling fans follow you or keep in touch with you, such as a Facebook, Twitter, etc?

Yes, I am very happy to have my new website: I want to thank Jason Lardy of Nomad Marketing for helping me design this website. I have a facebook fan page for Shelley Olds Athlete, as well as a twitter account at @ShelleyJOlds

Olds jersey Shelley Olds in her team jersey. Photo © Shelley Olds

Luke Allingham-What type of music do you currently have on your play list?

I really do like all kinds of music, but when I am preparing for a race, I like to listen to progressive trance, and my favorite artists are Tiesto and Armin Van Buren. After the race, I like to listen to Jazz.

Luke Allingham-When you are not training and preparing for races, what do you? What are your hobbies?

I really just like to do relaxing things when I am not racing or training. My favorite thing to do is to wake up in the morning and go for a long walk on the beach with my dog. I look for shells and she looks for sticks to chase. I also like spending time with my family, eating dinner with them, walking in the town and looking at all the shops, or watching European soccer matches. When I am alone, I like sitting on my balcony to take sun, drink an afternoon coffee, and make things like scarfs or blankets or hats. I really enjoy knitting and I find it an excellent way to recover after a long training ride or race.

Luke Allingham- Final Question: Is there anyone that you would like to thank that helped you get to the point in your professional career that you are at today?

I wouldnít be here without the support of my family, especially my mother. She always inspired and motivated me to be my very best. And when I was faced with adversity, she was there to offer the perfect words of wisdom to help me pass the moment. I only hope that I can be as good of a mother to my children as she has been to me. And also, I would like to thank my coach, Manel Lacambra, who has believed in me since the first day he saw me race and has helped me stay focused on my goal despite all the adversity I have faced this season and last. Through the good and the bad, he has been here supporting me and pushing me to get back on my feet and be the best athlete I can be. I have never had a coach inspirational, professional, and smart as him.

Follow Shelley as she races in Europe as well as at the 2012 London Olympics on herTwitter page or website

About the Author: Luke Allingham is an amateur bicycle athlete residing in Chicago, Illinois who continues to hone his skills despite entering his first year of high school in the coming year. He is a contributor to The Daily Peloton Cycling News covering men's professional cycling and interviewing bicycle racers from around the world.

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