TSC: You’re in Arizona now and off the bike, as it were, for maybe the first time ever. How has the current status of everything changed your trajectory for the year to come, and what are you doing to keep motivated and busy without access to the open road?
LW: Yeah, Coronavirus travel limitations became real right before our fourth week of guiding gravel camp with The Cyclist’s Menu in Southern Arizona mid March. For the next six weeks, we had to cancel or postpone seven projects and trips including the fourth season of Anchorage GRIT (my girls cycling mentorship program in Alaska), the London Bike Show, a media project for the new Specialized Diverge in the UK, Sea Otter in California, two friends’ weddings in Mexico and Arizona and a time trial on the Oregon Outback Trail. Over the past couple of years, my schedule has just gotten more and more packed. If I can manage it, I almost never say no. I get so excited about different rides and trips and races and projects, but I’m constantly stretching myself thin. Instead of flying around the world, I’ve stayed put for the past month. With less travel, I probably get to spend more time outside than I would otherwise. This is the latest in the season I’ve ever stayed in Arizona. I usually leave at the end of March and this year I’ll be here until June. We’re in the middle of a super bloom of wildflowers. It’s warm and sunny every day. I’m riding and hiking new trails near Tucson. I’m learning how to wheelie. I’m doing yoga every day. I’m sleeping more. On the media side, Rue has had so much more time to edit. She released a video about Anchorage GRIT a couple of weeks ago. We wrapped up a route building media project in Colombia with Conservation International and Bikepacking.com in February and now she has time to work on that story. The route, guides, video and a couple of scholarships will be released in October. We plan to go back to Alaska in June to document a project of riding all of the roads in Alaska. I rode 4,500 miles of Alaska roads in 2017 as a way to see my home state and connect the dots. We’ll go back together to ride and get footage and share this story-- it’s fantastic and wild. I guess the Coronavirus outbreak is a good opportunity to start more rides from home.
TSC: You started Grit, a program for young women in Anchorage to get on bikes; you hosted several international women’s scholarships; have been on countless panels including the recent Digital Worldbike; and hosted a bike camp in Arizona with The Cyclist Menu. From a social engagement standpoint few athletes come close to your endeavours. What inspires you to engage in these public facing activities, given the sport of endurance cycling is often such a personal pursuit?
LW: I love the spark of excitement when people see a challenge and make it their own. They want adventure. They want to push themselves into the unknown and see what happens. I’m happy to share that inspiration on any platform. No one knows what they’re capable of until they try. It doesn’t have to be competitive or about accomplishments. It can be entirely personal. I feel like moving through the natural world under my own power is where my heart feels the fullest and I love to encourage others to get out there. Organizing a girls cycling program and women’s scholarships is a lot of volunteer work, but when I see the experiences and hear the stories, it’s all worth it. The opportunities I’m working to provide are things I would’ve loved to participate in-- to go on a 60 mile adventure ride when I was 12 or apply for a scholarship to ride 1,000 miles in Alaska. I’ve gotten so much help along the way. It’s amazing to come up with an idea and have the community get behind it and make it happen.
TSC: Do you ever have the tendency to….?
LW: floss my teeth? Yep, I do it every day.