I wouldn’t say that I typically meet people that have that something that just stands out. Perhaps a certain flare, gift or personality trait that just seems to jump out at me and hit me like the Hot Wheels car that my brother cracked me in the back of the head with when we were younger. About 8 months ago I happened to meet Kerstin while out at my local downhill trail and something about her stood out. She hasn’t been riding mountain bikes for very long but is super enthusiastic about the sport. She is a California girl from Napa and a transplant to the Pacific Northwest. Kerstin says that she loves everything about the NW and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, if anything she would love to move deeper into the NW. I got the chance to do a little bit of Q and A with Kerstin.
Do you remember your first time on a bike? Anything with 2 wheels?
The first time I rode my bicycle without training wheels had to be the most memorable. It was summer time in northern California and I was 6 years old. I had been watching all of my neighborhood friends riding their bikes up and down the street with no training wheels. I asked my Dad if I could take them off, I wanted to ride the way the older kids rode. Our front yard had a tiny slope to it which worked out to my benefit. I remember my Dad cheering, “PEDAL! PEDAL!” as he held onto the seat. After I was half way down the street I realized he wasn’t holding onto me anymore It was a moment of anxiety that turned into joy, a feeling of full freedom. Later when trying to stop, I crashed hard but that didn’t stop me from getting back up and trying again.
Why the interest in mountain biking?
At the moment I am drawn to mountain bike racing because of how mentally and physically challenging it is. I have always been a racer. From racing neighborhood friends up & down the street, racing motocross for about 5 years, racing has been a part of me for a long time. The camaraderie in mountain biking is unbeatable; I have met some amazing people in such a short amount of time. You don’t get that in a lot of competitive sports.
How was your Arnold Palmer that you just had here at Burnside Brewery?
It’s delicious! Perfect for a hot afternoon like today!
How much does your upbringing influence your decision to race mountain bikes? Why downhill?
My childhood was doused in racing. My Dad was a professional Motocross/Arenacross racer and at 51 he is racing AMA Daytona Sport Bike. Our weekends were simple, we packed up and headed to the races. When I turned 17 I started racing at local motocross tracks. Eventually I worked myself up to a YZ250F and started attending some national events. When I moved to Oregon in 2011 there wasn’t much of a motocross scene (there still isn’t) and I raced at Albany MX as well as Territorial MX but there wasn’t much competition. I met my future boyfriend in 2013, he took me and a group of friends to ride Thrillium in southwest Washington and it was my first experience mountain biking in the Northwest. The mountain bikes felt just like riding a motorcycle except, lighter and with no motor. After buying a downhill bike in 2014 I started racing the NW Cup as a Cat 2 racer. I chose downhill because it tied in so closely to my motocross roots. It doesn’t mean enduro is out of the question in the off-season now that I have my Banshee Spitfire!
Any music that you listen to that gets you pumped up to ride?
I really love all types of music rock to classical, hip hop, reggae, edm-dance, ska to country. I really turn to hard rock/metal to pump me up for races. Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Trivium and Pantera. It gets me into an aggressive mindset and I love playing the air guitar!
What is your favorite part about riding in the PNW?
The variety of riding you find here in the NW is unbeatable. There is fast singletrack, big rock gardens, huge hits, loamy dirt, shuttle-able technical rides, the north shore! Whistler! Do I need to say much more?
How do you feel about the current position of women in the mountain bike race scene? Anything you think should be different?
From when I started mountain biking I have seen a noticeable increase in women joining the mountain biking scene. My first race last year had only 7 women in it. My first race this year had 19! Things that can help women get into mountain biking is women/coed riding groups. It was a bit intimidating for me when I first starting riding because I was only with guys, I was always the slowest and felt bad for holding them up. Now I ride among them, it takes time and a lot of patience. Another is specific tailored women’s riding gear. We come in all different sizes, I have always had a problem finding the perfect fitting gear. Companies like TLD, Sombrio, WIP, Flare and Dharco need to keep at it to help ladies have some great fitting gear. Getting a wedgie on your race run is never a good thing. Last but not least EQUAL PAYOUT at races. We pay the same entry fees, travel the same distances, and work to our hardest capacity as our male counterparts do. Unless your giving us discounts on race entries, pay us equal.
Do you have any pre-race routines?
Pre-race run routine… My routine has carried over from motocross. I make sure 48 hours prior to race day I eat really healthy (good carbs, fats and protein), stay hydrated meaning TONS of water, and absolutely go to bed early. 24 hours prior I repeat the above except dial in my race run by the end of practice and before I go to bed I envision how my run will go and how it feels to be on the podium. Race day I do a quick morning warm-up (yoga), do my practice run, hydrate, eat and do a mental race run in a quiet place. Race time comes and I try and put all my practice to work!
Any riders you look up to and why?
Casey Brown, Miranda Miller & Claire Buchar. They have unmatched style and Casey is one day older than me she lets me know I can attain my goals at my age. Rachel Atherton for determination and speed. Amanda Batty for drive and passion. Brendon Fairclough and Josh Bryceland for their speed and style points.
If you could have any super power what what it be?
It would be supersonic healing powers. I’ve had plenty of injuries from concussions, torn ligaments, bursitis and more. I’d love to regenerate quickly and be able to help heal others.
What’s your favorite place to eat? Favorite beer?
My favorite place to eat is left to be found in Oregon, growing up in Napa, California left me with some pretty high standards haha! In Napa my favorites are: The Pearl, Mustards, Sushi Mumbo and The Rutherford Grill. Beer? Wine? Now your talking! I love chocolaty robust stouts, 2 towns cider’s and wine of choice is Antica Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lastly how did you feel after your win last weekend? And is that feeling going to drive you to stay more focused on your racing goals?
I felt pretty amazing after my first win of the season. I have been pretty nervous this year since I bumped up from Cat 2 to Cat 1. I am really looking forward to the rest of the season and keeping consistent results to hopefully attain my pro license at the end of the season. I have never been so excited to achieve my goals and become a professional racer. Still working on conquering some of my fears and I am loving the process!
Thanks Kerstin for taking the time to answer my questions and give us a little bit of insight to your world. Good luck with the rest of your race season as I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of you and your wins!
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