Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Conversation With Champion Alijah Beatty

Alijah Beatty of Washington, IA, was the USA Cycling national amateur 17-18 female  road racing silver medalist in 2016. This year she was the gold medalist in both the road race and the criterium, in addition to finishing fourth in the time trial. Additionally, Beatty made a trip to Europe with a US National Team this spring, competing in the UCI 2.2 Gracia Orlova race in the Czech Republic and Poland.

Is competitive cycling a feature of the neighborhood where you grew up? Were there others in your circle of friends that were into competitive cycling? Many cyclists develop in families where cycling is important. Was that the case with you?
I started cycling when I was 10 years old. My father had started riding 3 years before I had and wanted someone to ride with. As I am the youngest of my family I was the only one who had nothing to do. I started riding with my father and entered my first race at the age of 10. Jingle Cross was my very first race, I entered the kid's race. And after that, I just wanted to race my bike. My father got into cycling by one of our close family friends. Even though my father doesn't race or our family friend they still come to my races and support me.My family is a big part of my cycling, they support me at all of my races!  They help me schedule my races and also get me ready to race.

How old were you when you competed in your first actual race and how did you do?

  As I mentioned before I raced my first race when I was 10 years old at Jingle Cross. I ended up 2nd. The first place was a boy so I felt okay about how I did, but I didn't just want to get second I wanted to win. So I kept racing and I still want to win. It is definitely a driving force.

When and how did you realize that cycling might be a pathway to further opportunities like travel and educational advancement?

Once I started looking at colleges I started to realize that I could continue my cycling career while getting an education. I also thought about not going to college and just pursue cycling for a year and see how it goes. As I weighed my options I decided that getting an education and being able to bike was a more reliable choice. But in the summer I will do as much cycling as I can and get to travel all around the US, North America and the world!

What advice would you give to a youngster in following a course similar to your own?

 Remember to always have fun. Cycling as a jr should not be a job. But the only way to get better, at anything, is to push yourself. You just have to learn how much you can push yourself.


You've recently competed in Europe for the first time. What are some of the biggest differences in racing there and in the US?

One of the biggest differences between womens' cycling in Europe and America would be the number of racers in each race. In America we are lucky if we end up with 30 let alone 50 but in Europe they expect 80 to 100 and in some of our races maybe up to 150. Women over in Europe can make a living cycling where in America women have to have another job one the side. Another thing is that they are very supported. There are big teams of just women and they have very generous sponsors.
When over in Europe racing I noticed that they were very aggressive. Meaning that they wouldn't just let you go in front of them. You had to fight for your position and fight for where you wanted to be they weren't going to give it to you easily.

Who were the riders in Europe that particularly impressed you and why?

 I wouldn't say that there was one rider in specific but the team WM3 was a big team there and they got on the UCI Podium pretty much every day.

How many schools actively tried to recruit you for their cycling programs?

There were maybe 5 or 6 but I was really only looking at 3 main schools. I chose Marian University not just for their cycling program but also for their academics. Marian University has an excellent Nursing program. I would like to become an ER Nurse after I graduate.

How is your training program structured?

My father and my coaches (Charlie and Sherry Townsend) from Northstar Development plan my training schedule. At the current time I am doing a lot of racing and not as much training. Most of my training was in the early season doing long rides and just getting a base.

What are the biggest pluses (and minuses) of being a competitive cyclist?

The pluses would be meeting a lot of people, traveling, when you win just the feeling you get of accomplishing something.
The minuses of course would be training, not being home much, and if you crash that's not too much fun.
But even though there are some downs to cycling the Ups are just so rewarding.

(Photo by Carlos Sabillon)

A trip to Rimouski, Q.C.  involved a competitive cycling minus.

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