Vermont native Lea Davison is no stranger to the front of domestic mountain bike races. This year, however, the multi-time national
champion has her sights set on the Olympic Games in London. And while the
Olympic roster wonít be released for several more weeks, Davison is now a
favorite for the team after several solid rides on the World Cup circuit this
Davison took some time to check in with MTBRacenews midway
through her spring campaign to talk about her Olympic dream, whatís new with
her Little Bellas program, and what she thinks needs to be done to improve
itís the proverbial elephant in the room, how are you feeling about your
chances for the Olympic team this year? Is it your main goal?
Lea Davison: The
Olympics are definitely my main goal.
Itís been a life long dream and Iím going for it. Having been the top American in the
first world cup and the second American in the second world cup, I feel like I
have a solid chance at qualifying for the team. With that being said, thereís still two qualifying races to
go and no one has automatically qualified so itís anyoneís game. The Olympic long team is stacked with
talent so itís going to be an exciting last two qualifying races.
than the Olympics, what are your goals for the 2012 season?
Lea Davison: I want
to carry the momentum from the 2011 season and stand on a world cup podium.
has it you trained almost exclusively on nordic skis for a couple of months
this winter? Why did you choose to do that? What are the benefits?
Lea Davison: I was
on almost exclusively on nordic skis for December and January. I included strength training and light
trainer rides in my schedule.
Nordic skiing is such a high intensity, full body workout that I can
practically get fitness benefits in one month that would take me twice as long
to get on the bike. Itís the kind
of sport where I can train at threshold very easily where it would take a lot
of mental effort to get that same intensity on the bike. I also love skiing and snow so itís
great mentally for me to get off the bike and keep things fresh.
else were you been up to during the off-season?
Lea Davison: I
started the off season with a trip to Disneyland in California with Joanna
Pettersonís family. From there, I
went to Kauai until December and did a lot of hiking, surfing, and strength
training. I also traveled to
Orlando, Florida in November for Specializedís official launch of their womenís
29er, Fate. It was a blast.
did racing early in the year at the first World Cup in South Africa effect your
Lea Davison: I had
to structure my season according to the four early season Olympic qualifying
world cups. The race season turns
out to be divided into two peaks.
I also got off the skis earlier than I normally do and started training
on the bike in February.
will you be racing on (bike wise) this season?
Lea Davison: I will be
racing primarily on the Fate, Specializedís womenís 29er. Iím psyched to race a bike thatís very
close to seventeen pounds. It
rides incredibly well. I also have Specializedís Epic 29er on hand for when the
course dictates a full suspension.
do you have planned for the Little Bellaís program this season?
Lea Davison: A
lot! We are expanding our national
reach to three stops on our Little Bellas national tour. We just finished with our three day
camp at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA. Our next national stop is the Beti Bike Bash in Golden, Co
on June 9 and 10 and then itís on
to Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Cable, WI on September 14-16. We are broadening our reach at each of
these destinations with visits to local schools. I did four visits to schools in Monterey, CA to talk about
cycling, healthy lifestyle, and the Little Bellas. It was a blast. We are deepened our Vermont roots by
expanding to three weekend long camps at Catamount Outdoor Family Center this
summer. We are, of course, still
having our weekly Vermont Sunday sessions in June and August where our program
got started. My sister, Sabe, is
the new, official Little Bellas director and doing an absolutely fantastic job
spreading our wings. We have big
plans in store for 2013 as well.
your perspective, what is the status of womenís racing in the US? Is there more
that USA Cycling and other organizations can or should be doing promote womenís
Lea Davison: For
womenís cycling across the board, the difference between womenís and menís
racing is prize money. The women
rarely get prize money equal to the men and the difference is staggering. We race just as hard and the races are
just as exciting yet we end up with a lot less prize money at the end of the
day. There are some races that do
a great job offering equal prize money.
Mellow Johnyís was the first stop on the ProXCT Tour and they do a great
job with equal prize money and race promotion in general.
For road racing, womenís racing is behind the menís in terms
of opportunity. Thereís no womenís
Tour of California. Jessica
Phillips, a female road racer, was sick of there not being any womenís racing
at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge so she organized a race that coincided with
three days of the menís race.
Luckily, we have sponsors, like Exergy, stepping up huge and doing their
best to fill in the gap. Exergy is
not only the title sponsor of a womenís road cycling and development team, they
are also putting on a massive UCI womenís only stage race in Idaho with prize
money thatís equal to the menís.
Itís great when a company sees the potential in womenís racing. Itís exciting and leaves a lasting
impact not only on its participants but on surrounding communities. Big races have a trickle down effect
thatís hard to capture, but it inspires young girls, young boys, women, and
even men to ride, race and participate in healthy lifestyles. It also opens girls eyes to the fact
that they too could be a professional cyclist one day. Iím a big proponent of the visibility
of womenís athletics because I was once that young girl. I watched the pro women race a short
track at Mount Snow, VT and realized Ďwait, I could ride my bike for a
Like the UCI did with cyclocross this year, if race
promoters are putting on a UCI road race for men, they should be mandated to
put on a race for women. This
would provide the road racing opportunities that the women deserve. Right now, if you are putting on a UCI
race, the minimum mandated prize money list gives less to the women than the
men. The UCI needs to equal up
this minimum prize money requirements, and, if that doesnít happen, the race
promoter should do their diligence to provide equal prize money.
is one race you never had the chance to do that youíd really like to
Lea Davison: I would
absolutely love to do Downieville and the handful of other Super D events.
you have a favorite mid-ride lunch or snack you can recommend?
Lea Davison: I train
with Clif Blocks a lot especially if itís a training ride with intensity. For my longer rides this winter, my
favorite snack was a huge bear claw from the local bakery. It barely fit in my jersey and my mouth
is literally watering right now as I talk about it.
your favorite non-cycling athletic event and why?
Lea Davison: I love
watching anything and everything to do with the Olympics. When the Olympics are on, Iím glued to
the TV for three weeks. Other than
that, I absolutely love ski racing.
Since I grew up ski racing and still ski, I have a natural affinity for
it. I love following the nordic
and downhill world cup circuits.