RAWRBikes recently got a chance to catch up with Liz Allen, Connecticut-based pro mountain bike racer and cyclocross race promoter! In Part 1 of the interview, Liz talks to us about her love of mountain bike racing.
First of all, congrats on winning the Pro Women’s overall title for the Root 66 series over the summer! In order to win the title, you raced against some solid local pros, including Crystal Anthony, Ellen Noble, and Mo Bruno Roy.
Thank you! The 2013 season was a blast, and it was an honor to mix it up with some of the fastest ladies in New England (actually, they’re some of the fastest in and out of the US). We have no shortage of good local racing here in the northeast between the Root 66 series, the EFTA series, and the endurance scene. I’m super stoked to have taken the points lead for the Root 66 series (shout out to Chris and Jill [Logan] for all of their work keeping this series going).
Can you tell us a little bit about what mountain bike season was like, and give us some of the highlights?
I did a handful of EFTA races and a couple of endurance races as well; I’m a bit of a junkie when it comes to racing so I tend to erratically cram a lot of races into the season. I’ll give you a good example of this impulsiveness. In June, I noticed there was a free weekend in my schedule, so I signed up for the Patapsco 100 on a whim. The race fell the weekend after July 4th (during a heat wave) and just a couple of weeks before XC nationals. Also, the promoters basically advertised their race as the hardest 100-miler on the planet. How could I not do it? Out of the 90 or so people to start the race, only 13 finished, and I was one of them—definitely the number one highlight of the season.
Number two would probably be the Domnarski Farm race where Ellen Noble and I were back and forth most of the race, and I burped my tire in the last couple of miles. Rather than stopping to add air, I just kept racing. I hung with her through the end, but the semi-flat proved to be useless for a sprint finish. Regardless, it was an epic race.
Highlight number three would have to be finishing second in the Hampshire 100. Oh, and then there’s Singlespeed-A-Palooza…fun course and really fun times.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to in the meantime. We know that you’re particularly busy—you’re in school, you ride, and you parent! How do you balance it all out?
Balance? Oh boy. I don’t know that I’m all that successful at actually balancing it all out. Yeah—I’m a mom, a full-time undergrad (studying biology and English), and I work part-time. I fit the riding in wherever I can, although I have to admit, this fall has been brutal, and good rides have been few and far between. When I look back at the summer, part of my problem was trying to balance two jobs with racing, parenting, and a summer class. I was racing regularly, but I wasn’t really training. I won’t do that again.
Luckily, I knew better than to keep racing through the fall. I’ll be honest; it’s tough to stay focused on schoolwork while ‘cross season is in full swing and everyone else is off racing. But this semester I overloaded my schedule so that I’d have more time in the spring to train, and next fall I’ll be finishing up with only a few classes. That means 2014 might be the year I race ‘cross and actually train for it.
We heard a rumor that you’re racing enduro! Could you tell us a bit about what’s on tap for you with regard to mountain bike racing next year?
While I am flattered that someone thinks I have the downhill skills for an enduro race, I must be honest, I would thoroughly suck at it. However, I do intend to race more of the endurance races this summer. In fact, I’m all signed up for the Trans-sylvania Epic stage race, running the last week of May (yes, a whole week of racing). There will be more 100-milers too; I’ll be revisiting Patapsco and the Hampshire 1000. But I’m not going to do a whole bunch of XC races this year—just the local ones (no more than an hour from home) and Singlespeed-A-Palooza (it’s pretty much the best thing ever). By the end of August, I hope to be winding down so I can switch over to cyclocross—I’m looking forward to giving it a real go next year.
Ed. notes: Photo for this article by Benjamin Stephens.
And speaking of ‘cross, stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Liz, in which we talk with her about the race she’s promoting on Sunday, December 15th!