Julbo athlete Erica Tingey is killing it so far on the national Pro XCT (Pro Cross Country Tour), staying on track with her goal of being ranked Top 5 in the Tour. Since we last caught up with Erica a year ago, she’s changed cities, come back strong after a major crash, and helped her 4-year-old son graduate from a Strider bike to a pedal bike (future racer in the making?).
The Utah native was recently featured in Breathe Magazine in its “Women of Endurance” series and was named Female Mountain Bike Racer of the Year for 2011 and 2012 by Cycling Utah magazine. Erica updates us on her season so far and what it was like to get back in the saddle post-injury...
Why the move to Salt Lake City?
Erica Tingey: We’d been looking for an opportunity to move to Utah and my husband found a great work situation in Park City. We moved here at the beginning of winter, which was quite an adjustment from the mild climate in Las Vegas. With summer arriving, however, I am super excited to get out and ride some of my favorite trails – the mountain biking is second-to-none here! Since 2010 I’ve been spending my summers here in order to have easier access to racing and to babysitters. The move was a natural transition for our family since my husband and I both have family here and in Park City, where we’ll eventually move to from Salt Lake.
How is your season going so far?
ET: I am focusing on just cross country races and specifically the Pro XCT again this season. They expanded the tour to include nine races and we’ve completed four so far. My goal for 2013 was to be ranked Top 5 in the tour and right now I am in 5th place! I placed Top 10 at the first three and hit the podium in 5th place in Fontana, California – my first podium at a national race. Needless to say I was stoked!
The field at the Sea Otter Classic (the 4th race on the tour) was the largest women’s pro field I’d seen in my career, with an amazing front row of National and World Champions. I placed 16th overall and was the 8th American. After Sea Otter, the majority of the U.S. women as well as a couple of international racers headed to Prescott, Arizona for the Whiskey 50. The race is literally double in distance and time to what I’m used to racing, but I still had a very respectable result of 7th place. During the race, I spent almost 30 minutes climbing next to Georgia Gould (Silver Medalist at the Olympics and current U.S. National Champion)!
The rest of the summer holds a lot of travel to complete the Pro XCT series, as well as National Championships and the World Cup in Quebec. The last few years I’ve finished off the season with one endurance event (Park City Point to Point) and will do so again this year. I’ve also enjoyed another training cycle to prepare for Iceman Cometh in Michigan in November the past couple of years, so that will most likely be on my calendar again, too.
What happened with your injury last season?
ET: Right after I won the Utah State Championship, I traveled to Colorado Springs for a Pro XCT race. There was a crazy rain storm that turned the course to mud. I slipped and hit a rock with my rib cage, breaking a few ribs, puncturing and collapsing my lung. It was the most acute pain I’d ever experienced! As a result, I spent four days in the hospital. The recovery and lost fitness was also more than expected. I didn’t fully regain my fitness until Iceman Cometh five months later! It was really hard to sit on the sidelines for half the season, but it gave me drive to train harder, race smarter and enjoy every healthy day I get to rally on my bike! I’m completely healed; there were no lingering effects of the crash (other than lost fitness) after eight weeks. So now that I’ve had my one big crash I’m done – no more the rest of my career!
What else is new this season?
ET: Many of the Pro XCTs are considered Triple Crown Events this year. That means there are three races in a weekend: the main Cross Country event, Short Track and Super D. Short Track is exactly what its name implies: a short race on mountain bikes around a small course. Typically it lasts right around 20 minutes and laps are two to three minutes long. It is a very spectator-friendly race because you come around so many times and it's extremely intense and a lot of fun! Super D is downhill racing on cross country mountain bikes. There are no crazy jumps, but there are some pretty fast descents. They are usually raced on a time-trial format, one person at a time. The first time I tried it I came in 5th place and was hooked!
How is your family? Do they get to travel with you to races?
ET: My family is doing well. My son, Kirkham, was on a Strider bike (two wheels and no pedals) for about a year and a half. He transitioned to a pedal bike in February with just one push – no training wheels. I’m a huge fan of those Strider-type balance bikes for kids. In literally less than an hour, Kirkham was pedaling a bike all by himself.
My family doesn’t get the opportunity to travel with me very often. The logistics and expense of getting the three of us to and from an out-of-state race are prohibitive. They are, however, able to come and support me at the local events and at some of the events that are within driving distance. It’s always great to have them there, especially when I can hear them cheering for me.