After a hip injury sidelined her for the
entirety of the 2010 season, Specialized racer Lea Davison has been on a tear
in 2011. She kicked off the season with a 2nd place in the cross
country at the US PROXCT in Bonelli Park, and has kept up the pace all season,
wrapping up the PROXCT Overall with a win in Missoula last weekend.
Lea recently took a few minutes to talk to us
about her injury, the race season, the Little Bellas organization she helped
found, and how to stay fit for mountain bike racing in the middle of a Vermont
MTBRacenews.com: 2011 is a comeback year for you, but you had
a terrific start this spring, starting with a 2nd place in the cross
country at the US Pro XCT #1 in Bonelli (followed by a win in the Short Track
the next day). How did you manage to find that kind of race fitness without
having raced in a year? Did you plan to be fast for those early races?
Lea Davison: I went into
those races kind of blindly because I really had no idea how it was going to
go. Having not raced for a whole season,
I did my best to prepare for this season but there was always an unknown in the
back of my mind. I didnít plan to be my
fastest for those early season races, but I did want to go in prepared. I think being totally fresh and rested from a
season off combined with a completely renewed motivation played a big part in
those good early season results.
MTBRacenews.com: Stepping back a little bit, can you tell us
about the hip injury that kept you off the bike for the 2010 season?
Lea Davison: I sustained
a torn labrum in my left hip in early January of 2010. The labrum in a semi-circle piece of
cartilage that lines the hip joint and can tear when the hip is in
flexion. The pain resonated to my groin
so it went misdiagnosed as a muscle tear for about a month and a half. I was in pain and couldnít do anything. Even twisting to get out of the car caused
pain. It was frustrating and I was
relieved to have a MRI and finally get a diagnosis. I made the difficult decision to have surgery
in April and forgo the season because I didnít want to race injured. I also wanted to be healed and start the
build up process for this season as soon as possible. Iím really happy with how everything worked
out. I worked with a phenomenal support team including Bill Knowles, my
trainer, at iSport. He, along with a
handful of other doctors and PTs from Vermont Orthopedic Clinic, were
absolutely essential to coming back stronger from this injury.
MTBRacenews.com: This wasnít the first time youíve had to
spend significant time off the bike due to injury? Has your approach to dealing
with cycling-related injuries changed over the years?
Lea Davison: My rookie
year on the Trek/VW team I dislocated my elbow and then got a bad case of mono
that lasted for months. That was a
significant time off the bike, but the 2010 season was the first time in my
ten-year career that I missed a race season. I think the hip showed me that rest can be really good, mentally and
physically. It also has created some new
perspective. If I have a muscle tear or
catch a cold during the season, I donít panic as much as before. I just have to think I spent a year off the
bike and Iím racing this well so whatís another couple of days recovering from
MTBRacenews.com: You switched things up and will be riding for
Specialized this season. What prompted the change of teams?
Lea Davison: An
opportunity arose to ride for Specialized for the 2011 season and I had to jump
on it. They make fast bikes and amazing
gear, and Specialized has the industryís leading line of womenís bikes. It really is the perfect fit since getting
more women to ride bikes through the Little Bellas is one of my passions. Specialized has been very supportive and Iím
thrilled to be riding for such a great company.
MTBRacenews.com: What are your goals for the second half of
the season this year?
Lea Davison: My goals
are to win a ProXCT cross country race and stand on a world cup podium. This past weekend I completed that first goal
at the last PROXCT in Missoula, Montana, so Iím aiming for those last world
cups and world championships.
MTBRacenews.com: USA Cycling recently released the
qualification guidelines for the 2012 Olympics in London. Is making the Olympic
team something youíre aiming for?
Lea Davison: Yes, Iím
definitely aiming for the Olympics. This
goal played a big part in deciding how and when to have hip surgery.
MTBRacenews.com: Speaking of the Olympics, there have been a
lot of comments made about the course not being a true mountain bike course. It
seems like, more generally, World Cup cross-country courses have become shorter
and less technical. Have you noticed the changes affecting the way the racing
Lea Davison: The new
world cup courses have more punchy climbing and shorter laps. Most of the world cups, especially my
favorite course, Mount Saint Anne, are really technically challenging
courses. If there is a start and a
finish line, the best legs will still win. Fitness is the trump card so, in that respect, I donít think itís
changed the outcomes of races.
MTBRacenews.com: Youíve had a lot of success in Short Track
racing in recent years. Are the shorter efforts associated with Short Track
something you train for specifically?
Lea Davison: I actually
donít train specifically for short track so itís just worked out that Iíve had
short track success. I have spent some
time road racing so learning some racing tactics has definitely helped in some
of the short track victories.
MTBRacenews.com: In 2007 you founded the Little Bellas bike
organization. Can you tell us a little bit about what the organization does and
what youíve been doing lately?
Lea Davison: The Little
Bellas is an all girls, mentoring on mountain bikes program based in
Vermont. My sister, Sabra, Angela
Irvine, and I founded the organization four years ago to get more girls riding
bikes. Forty girls and twenty mentors
meet every Sunday in the summer and we break into smaller groups based on age
and ability. We aim to create a community that will empower girls through the
sport, emphasize the importance of goal-setting, promote a healthy life style
and recognize the positive effects of strong female bonds. We went national last year and currently hold
two Little Bellas camps at the Sea Otter Classic in April and at Chequamegon
Fat Tire Festival in September. (www.littlebellas.com)
MTBRacenews.com: You grew up in Vermont, where cross training
for cycling is a necessity. Do you have any off-season training tips for riders
in cold climates?
Lea Davison: Cross
country skiing. There is nothing better
to get in shape. I try to spend as
little time on the trainer as possible because it saps motivation. All of my
training in January and February is done on skis. Itís good to focus on different movement
patterns and work on overall strength as well. Never be afraid to cross train. Itís refreshing for the mind and body.
MTBRacenews.com: Youíve gotten to ride in a lot of cool places
all over the world. What is your favorite place to ride and why?
Lea Davison: I love
traveling around Europe and getting to see different places, and itís really
hard to narrow it down to one favorite spot. I absolutely love riding in the Dolomites because I love the climbs in
those rugged mountains. The gelato and
food is amazing so that definitely tips the scales in favor of Italy.
MTBRacenews.com: When youíre on the road traveling to races,
what is one thing that you couldnít do without?
Lea Davison: Fruit. I buy fruit wherever I am traveling.