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Monday, December 2, 2013

Inspirational Cyclist - Robin Williams

Photo by Yet Another Bike Photo Page

I had a hard time writing this post about Robin. She is simply amazing. There is just too much to say about her that it was hard to decide what to write! Robin has been there for me from the beginning, always encouraging me to tackle (scary) new obstacles, upgrade racing categories when the time was right, and always push myself to get better. She would watch out for me on tough group rides to make sure I wouldn’t get dropped and would almost always be there for me at the start line of races to give advice and calm nerves. And I know I can count on her to yell things at me (at my request) during races so I keep pushing! I simply would not be the mountain biker or racer that I am without her. Thank you!

Robin is an incredibly strong and technical savvy rider, holding a UCI Mountain Bike license, and holds Category 2 Cyclocross license and Category 3 road license. She never hesitates to coach other riders who are just getting a start and has definitely inspired me to do the same. Robin is a dedicated racer, wife, and mother of a sweet little baby boy, Niels. Oh, and did I mention she is in her last year of residency at the U of I Hospitals & Clinics. Read below as she tells us how she got her start in cycling, shares her goals for next season, and explains how on earth she fits everything in with her busy schedule!

How did you get your start in cycling?

Kyle and I first bought bikes 3 weeks before RAGBRAI in 2005. A grad school friend of ours talked us into riding with his team "Fat Tom's Army" that year.

 How long have you been riding and/or racing?
We started racing in 2006. Our first race was a small local race at Prairie High School called Prairie Rude Days. It was put on by Two Bee Racing.
Robin racing in 2006

What bikes do you have?
I have a SWorks Tarmac road bike, a SWorks 29er hardtail MTB and Surly 1x1 singlespeed MTB, a Ridley X-Fire cross bike and custom Speedwagen cross bike, and a Redline Conquest for my townie (this was my first cross bike).

 Do you have a favorite race?
My absolute favorite mountain bike race is part of the WORS series. It used to be called the Big Ring Classic and it takes place in Wausau, WI.

What has racing done for you (how has it shaped your life)?
Racing keeps me focused. Riding in general actually does. I am very busy at work and when I ride I able to clear my head for all the things that go on there. I actually can't imagine it not being a part of my life.

What is your favorite aspect of cycling?
Although you can do this with any kind of exercise, I love pushing myself to the limit on the bike. The feeling of complete exhaustion after a hard ride. I have never found any other sport or activity which motivated me to work as hard as cycling does.
Jingle Cross 2011. Photo By Jeff Corcoran

Any goals for the upcoming season?
Since I was pregnant this year, my only goal was to keep riding as long as possible, which turned out to be up until the day I delivered. I had no hopes for racing, but was pleasantly surprised to be able to come back to cross after Niels was born. Next year, I am looking forward to joining the team again on the road and getting back up to Wisconsin to race mountain bikes.
WORS Subaru Cup 2012

Do you have any non-cycling hobbies?
Not really. No time :)

Who is your favorite cyclist or racing team?
Fabian Cancellara is my favorite road cyclist. He is a monster on the one day classics in the spring. My favorite mountain bike racer was Burry Stander. He was unfortunately killed last year after getting hit by a car. I have many favorites in cross, specifically Sven Nys, Niels Albert, and Lars van der Haar. Of the 3, I think I like Lars the most ;)

As far as women in cycling, I really like Marianne Vos. She seems to dominate every cycling discipline she tries. I also really like Leah Davison. She has been killing it in the World Cups on the MTB the last couple of years.

What do you think is the best way to promote women’s cycling?
Group rides. I think women want to ride with other women and draw motivation to ride from that. I think role models are also helpful in that they can make it easier for a new person to get acquainted with the sport.
How do you balance cycling with the rest of your life?

This one is tricky as my schedule changes from month to month. As a resident I work anywhere from 50-80 hours per week. So I ride when I can. Before having Niels, it was slightly less tricky because Kyle and I both enjoy riding, so it was something we did together in our free time. Now a days, we take turns going to group rides or riding on our own so that someone is always available to watch our son.
Kyle, Robin, & Niels. Photo by Mauro Heck

Anything else to add? Any tips for women interested in starting riding or racing?
All I can say is never give up. I came in last place the first 2 races I did and now I am often fighting for first. Push yourself and the fitness will come :)

Bobber's Cross 2012. Photo by Brittany McConnell

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