Gayle Connell is a familiar face in the Colorado cycling scene, and she's been one of our ambassadors for a few years now. It seemed fitting that we give everyone a chance to get to know about her.
Hello, Gayle. Thanks for joining me.Let’s start with something simple. How long have you been cycling and what got you into competitive side of the sport?
I've been racing for about 6 years, I had done some triathlon racing and recreational riding for a few years before that. I grew up a runner and doing lots of other sports. I was a Division 1 rower in college for the University of Delaware. After a few knee surgeries and doctors telling me running was leading me to further damaging my knee and body, I decided to start riding. The rest is history! I do still sneak in some running here and there for fun, however.
What types of riding do you do?
I love all the new gravel events and rides. I think they are such a fun mix of road and dirt. I love being in the mountains both on my road and mountain bike and participating in races and group events. Cyclocross is probably my favorite because of the fun vibe and it is a practical way for me to race since the events are short, usually 40 minutes, and that makes training possible when you are on a tight schedule.
Just a Couple of the Many Faces of Dirty Kanza
Tell us about your team.
The Colorado Woman’s Cycling Project (CWCP), formerly Naked Women's Racing, is the largest all-women's team in the Colorado area with members from many surrounding states. We have a diverse group of fierce ladies competing in all disciplines as well as a club team promoting recreational riding and getting more women on bikes.
You’re also a Haute Route Ambassador. For those not familiar with Haute Route, what is it? And what do you do for them?
Haute Route events take place over seven or three days, with timed and ranked segments embedded in the world's most iconic cycling terrain. They are some of the world's most prestigious multi-day events for amateur riders. The locations are amazing, the organization and coordination are unmatchable, and they draw in a great group of people! As an ambassador, I help promote the events and lead training rides to prepare people with their training. I am looking forward to participating in a few 3-day events this year! Maybe even an international destination!!
Are you involved any other sports?
I love to snowboard with my family over the winter... or all the way through June in our crazy Colorado weather! I'm hoping to try some backcountry snowboarding and cross-country skiing this year. Colorado has so many beautiful places to hike and run, so that' always a fun way to explore new places. And while I love Colorado, I miss spending time at the beach swimming and surfing.
What are your athletic objectives for this season?
After rotator cuff surgery last fall, I was hesitant to set many goals for this current season as I didn't know where my fitness and strength would be. I think I'm at the point where I am ready to set out some plans and goals for the upcoming cyclocross season and then look forward to 2020. I plan to race SBTGRVL. I'm looking forward to it as I will have a lot of teammates and friends out there riding it. It's fun trying all these new gravel events and races. Equal to planning races, I enjoy training with friends and participating in non-race group events. There are always shenanigans that turn long days into crazy adventures!
Your family is obviously a big part of your life. How do you manage family life, work, and training?
As cheesy as it is to say, it's all about balance. I am lucky to have a great husband who is equally involved with all aspects of the kids and home as I am. We are fortunate to have fairly flexible work schedules and we do our best to have time with the kids and time for us. Sometimes I have to miss a workout or get up at 4am to get it in, and other times I head to Moab for a long weekend of riding and hanging with my girl friends.
Did Someone say "Moab?"
What does an average training week look like for you?
I try to get in most of my training, especially through the winter, before work in the morning. I generally try to workout 5-6 days a week, with about 4 of those being on the bike. Sometimes cross-training is using playground equipment when I'm with the kids and sometimes it's running around the fields when they have practice. I love the energy of group workout classes and love to go try new ones with friends.
Do you follow a particular diet to stay fueled and help recovery with your active lifestyle?
Oh man, on the spot now! I just got back from traveling for work and then vacationing and I know my overall nutrition and general well-being took a hit. I think it is all about balance. I'll get back on track now with clean eating, cutting back on the vino and trying to get more rest. I had fun on vacation and I didn't want to be standing to the side eating a carrot while my kids had ice cream cones...so I had ice cream too! Even though there are plenty if times that I feel like I am not at an ideal race weight or not happy with by bikini bod, I try to be body positive with my kids, especially my daughter. We try to eat healthy together and I try to remind us all to think of food as fuel for all our activities (with the occasional treats!). On the bike, I am currently loving the new Nuun Endurance products.
Now the most important questions: what are your favorite Enduro Bites and Beta Red flavors?
My favorite Enduro Bites flavors are Dark Chocolate Espresso and Lemon Cranberry (there is something so refreshing about the lemon cranberry!). As for Beta Red, I just can't decide...I love them both. I use the original flavor for mixing in with other drinks and cooking and I love the orange flavor when I want to change it up!
Any advice for women who are interested in trying competitive cycling?
I say just go for it. Find a team that suits you and see what they have to offer. My team, CWCP, has everyone from beginner riders to ladies who have been racing for years. We encourage participation at every level from first-time road racers to professional mountain bike racer. It is also great to participate in large group events as a way to ease into races. Events like the Triple Bypass and Golden Gran Fondo are fun, but also allow you to satisfy your competitive edge. CWCP holds clinics on and off the bike to help grow our community of female cyclists and encourage them to get out there and ride. It is such a great opportunity to make new friends and find mentors to teach and encourage you.