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Field Notes: Meet Gabby Day
photography by Emily Maye
In her first season on Team Rapha-FOCUS Gabby Day has come out swinging. Her fourth place finish at Cross Vegas stunned the gathered masses of the bike industry during the 40-minute race on the fake grass of Las Vegas. From there the festivities continued as the team headed towards the first USGP of cyclocross in Madison, Wisconsin where Gabby placed 3rd on Saturday and 4th on Sunday. A great way to start the season.
During the Rapha-FOCUS team camp in Colorado this past August, Chris DiStefano sat down with Gabby to find out a little more about the girl from Lincolnshire.
How long have you been racing?
About eight years properly.
Describe your racing style
I am aggressive at the start and like to to take early control and lead in the technical sections where I'm strongest.
Which of your results are you most proud of?
9th, a Koksijde World Cup.
What is your favorite race course?
Gloucester, Massachusetts is one of my favorite courses. And Koksijde, for some crazy reason. I always seem to do well there.
You like to do your nails and some would say you're known for it. Any special race colors?
I am all about pretty nails and I love to show a feminine side to my racing. I also love wearing my pearl earrings! I think it is great to promote femininity in sport; after all, why is being girly a bad thing? Why do we need to act like men to be strong? [ed.- You don't] We shall see throughout the season what colors seem to make me extra fast!
You teach cycling to children in the UK. Where do you start? How do you connect children at the beginning stage to where you are and help them determine where they will feel most comfortable within that continuum?
I love promoting cycling to the younger generation. I think it is a really great thing to do. I like to show them that it is a fun exciting thing to do. I like to show the young girls that it is not just a sport for the boys but that girls can be great at it, too. They can be fast and have fun and still wear pretty things and be colorful! I tell them how I started in cycling and that if you really enjoy it that you should go to the local cycling club and have a go and see where it takes you.
I teach safe cycling on the roads and skills and we get a really great response to the course; the kids love it.
Big question - What needs to happen for more women to come to cycling? Not just racing but as a recreational pursuit?
I think we need to actively encourage women into cycling by showing that it is a really fun enjoyable sport to do. In the UK we have started doing mass participation women-only cycle events and professional women cyclists come and ride with the ladies. It is a fun event where women can ride bikes with each other and share the love of cycling.
Sometimes it can be intimidating starting out into a sport that is mainly dominated by men. I think the Olympics has done a great thing for cycling in the UK. The female cyclists kicked ass and were great role models within the sport. It is exciting to see the sport becoming bigger and the general public taking notice of cycling.
What's a training day like for Gabby Day?
My training days vary. During my base training I will do long hours and my biggest week will be about 26 hours.
What's an off-day like?
I look forward to my rest days. I normally spend time with my friends and family relaxing so that I am ready to train hard again the next day. I like to go to coffee shops, too.
You were a competitive track runner before discovering cycling, correct? What was your signature event?
I was a middle distance runner so I did the 1500m and 800m. I later specialised in the 800m which is a tough event. Two laps of the track as fast as you can go!
What drew you to cycling?
My sister actually got me into cycling. My family are all athletic and my grandad used to be a racing cyclist, so I guess I was always going to be doing some kind of sport. My sister started going to the local cycling club events and they had a closed circuit where they would run races every Tuesday evening. She used to tell me how much fun it was so I decided I would give it a try. I loved it. I beat some boys and it rapidly became an addiction. I loved the speed and excitement of racing and I progressed quite quickly.
You've heard about 'cross in North America, it's a crazy scene. What event are you looking most forward to and why?
I am really looking forward to GP Gloucester. I really enjoyed that race last year. It was a great atmosphere and I made the podium, too.
Will CX boom in the UK as it has in the US? Maybe it already has?
Cyclocross is definitely getting bigger in the UK but it still needs to catch up with the US. Track cycling is the biggest discipline in the UK. I think it is great that companies like Rapha are involved in cyclocross because Rapha has a great fan base in the UK which can only be a good thing in helping promote cyclocross in a positive way.
The 2012 team is three men and four women. That's a big team. What do you expect life under the team tent to be like this season?
I am very excited to be part of Rapha-FOCUS. It is a very professional set up and something I think I will really draw energy from. It's great to have other female teammates. It will be a really good presence to have at the races. It is definitely something that has happened in Europe, there are some strong euro women's cross teams that have partnered up with the big men's teams. It is a definite progression in the sport.
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