The Women’s Cycling Association showcases inspiring riders from the women’s cycling community. This week we’re excited to feature U.S. Pro Mountain Bike Racer, Erin Alders.

Women’s Cycling Association: How did you become involved in cycling?

Erin Alders: I was inspired to start riding when I was home for the summer before my first year of college. I saw the local Nevada City Classic from my parent’s front yard, and I had the chills watching the pro women. It was their strength and their speed.

Shortly after, I befriended my writing professor who coincidently worked at a bike shop, and she sold me my first road bike and my first pair of road shoes.

Throughout the years my mentors, teammates, riding buddies, and my coaches have inspired me in cycling. In particular, these people made the top 20: Stosh Bankston, Liz Chapman, Nichole Christiani, Larissa Connors, Sarah and Hal David, Carmen D’Aluisio, Don Drageset, Kelli Emmett, Roger Farrell, Chris Feucht, Goldi and Ben Jacques-Maynes, Glenn James, Sako Kopanou, Craig Lindberg, Gregg Stone, Connie and Duane and Strawser, Aileen Vandenberg, and Amy Weaver. They taught me to be a better athlete and a stronger person, and they have supported me. The list goes on and on… The David, Hill, and Edwards Families from Tahoe. There are many more people and you all know who you are. Everyone that has taken me in and given me housing, or a ride to a race, or told me I could do it, or pushed me on a ride. Thank You always to my family.

Vital Stats
Name: Erin Alders
Hometown: Downieville, CA
Racing Age: 34
Category: Pro
Primary Discipline: MTB

WCA: How long have you been riding?

Erin: I have been riding in and out since 2000. Check out Erin riding in her YouTube video!

WCA: What has been your most memorable experience in the sport?

Erin: I would say some of my most memorable experiences are the days I’ve had the most fun on a bike. There is a group of guys I ride mountain bikes with from Truckee, and I call them my Truckee boyfriends. Riding with them is epic and hilarious. Being with them is like being in a magical bubble. (I’m a magical bubble). I’m either having a laughing attack, or wondering how I am going to make it back before dark, or watching some godlike way to ride a technical section…

The rides that I’ve been able to do with my coaches will be forever etched into my memory.

As far as racing, I remember the hardest days and the sweetest days. The days when it all comes together and you win. Also the days that break you down. I like to think those days helped toughen me up and build character.

WCA: Do you have a favorite race. If so, why?

Erin: So far I have two favorite races and one is the Nevada City Classic. My parent’s house is on the course, there’s climbing, my family and friends are there, and I can hear people cheering for me all over the course.

My other favorite race is the Downieville Classic. My house sits on the finishing stretch; the course consists of a long climb and a technical descent. My family is there to support, my friends are there racing, there is a river to cool off in afterwards, and everyone is there to have a good time.

WCA: What challenges have you faced in cycling?

Erin: One challenge would be fracturing my pelvis. Even though it happened over 10 years ago in a road riding accident, I am still dealing with some issues with my body healing non-symmetrically. However, there are things I can do to improve my structure on the bike; a seat that flexes to the shape of my sit bones, and arch supports and shims that I can put in my shoes to support body alignment and to make my legs equal length.

Another challenge I would say is dealing with crohn’s disease. It’s a disease that affects the digestion, and can cause inflammation and ulcers. I have had to treat food as medicine to keep symptoms at bay and to not have to take medication. I have a pretty pure, plain, and simple food palette to keep things working as best as possible. Dealing with a medical condition while racing is stressful.

The last challenge would be financial stability. A lot of the time I have burned the candle at both ends and paid for racing bills on my own and it is exhausting.

WCA: What do you enjoy most about the sport?

Erin: I enjoy most having the fitness to be able to go out and do epic rides in the middle of nowhere. Alone or with friends. I can see so much by bike. I like seeing owls, mountain lions, foxes, bears, big mountains and cold rivers. I like all kinds of weather, and the feel of it.

As far as mountain biking, I love the technique involved. There will probably always be room for improvement on ways to be smoother and faster through a section.

I like the days where I can leave it all in a race or a training workout, and feel proud of the effort I put it.

I like how the sport made me stronger out of competition. I probably wouldn’t have made it through graduate school in engineering (my undergrad was in art) if I hadn’t road raced. The woman who coached me my last years of road racing was big on persisting, and not giving up. The mental toughness I acquired gave me the perseverance to keep going in a master’s program, even though I was struggling most of the time. There were a few definitive moments when I could have thrown it in the towel, but I didn’t.

WCA: What are your goals in cycling?

Erin: To keep getting stronger mentally and physically, and to continue to grow. Next season I am aiming to be in the top 10 in the Pro XCT Series.

WCA: What do you think is the biggest challenge women in cycling are facing today?

Erin: I think the biggest challenge women face today in cycling is pay equality. It is getting better in some ways though. Scott Tedro of Sho-Air is a progressive supporter of women’s racing and has offered equal prize money for women’s mountain bike racing on the National level.

WCA: What do you think you can do to help women’s cycling grow?

Erin: It would be fun to get a bunch of women together and host a women’s mountain bike skills camp in Downieville. I forget how much fun women are until I am surrounded by a big group of them.

WCA: What do you like to do in your off season?

Erin: In my off-season, I like to work on my house in Downieville. It’s from the 1800’s and has a lot of potential. I also love to do creative projects. I have my own business called Eleri Design that is a mix of design. I design knitted clothing that a high-tech knitting machine produces, I do photography and oil painting, and I am currently working towards my professional engineering license. Hikes and stretching are also nice.

WCA: What are some of your goals outside of the sport?

Erin: Outside of the sport, my goal is to have a successful business in design. I want to specialize in design that ranges from structural engineering, to knitted clothing, to photography and oil painting. I want to do them all in an environmentally conscious way.

Another goal outside of the sport is to be in the position to give back. I have been fortunate to receive so much support from the people in my life. One day I would like to be apart of architectural/ engineering projects that benefit disadvantaged populations and the planet. I would also like to donate to an organization that provides education and resources to empower women and children in other parts of the world.

WCA: Are you currently involved with any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, explain:

Erin: I currently do volunteer work for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition.

WCA: How did you find out about WCA?

Erin: I attended a WCA meeting in Davis a couple years ago and had a great time connecting with other female racers.

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