Name: Laura Rice
Age: 31

Occupation: Development & Events Manager, Blue Ridge Humane Society

Bikes: Trek Crockett 7 x 2 (because cyclocross), Trek Top Fuel 9.8, and Giant Defy 

Q: When and how did you discover cycling?

A: I grew up riding bikes as a kid but didn’t really embrace it until college. I had watched one of the North Carolina Cyclo-Cross NC Grand Prix races while still in high school and was in awe but didn’t make the jump into actually starting to ride until being on the team at Mars Hill University. There I was able to race, learn all about various cycling disciplines, travel to events, and make friends that I still have today. 

Q: Has your inspiration to ride changed since then, and what is it now?

A: Starting out riding was definitely a way to try something new. Over the years though my inspiration has grown to not only include being competitive and racing, but also being a part of and contributing to an amazing community. I’m still so grateful to the people and companies that supported me as a new cyclist, showed me routes and tips, taught me how to ride safely and confidently, and provided a support network. While I’m still highly motivated to be as fast and strong as I can for racing I also always want to honor the kindness of the cycling community and help nurture it and provide support and access for all levels of riders. Riding also makes me a happier and healthier person. It definitely serves as a stress relief and time to take a break and be a type of mediation where all I do is pedal. That feeling after a ride of both exhaustion and energy is usually enough to get me out the door for a needed lunch ride on a stressful day!

Q: How would you define your style of gravel riding?

A: Steady! I love a good long route to settle into and ride at an endurance pace, but will be aggressive on any descents, the more technical the better! 

Q: Describe an ideal day on the bike.

A: Any day that involves pedaling is the ideal day! But it’s made even better by sharing it with others, spending hours on the bike, with lots of climbing and descending, beautiful views and exploring new places, with just enough challenge (be it weather or terrain or length) all wrapped up at the end with a good meal or drink!

Q: What are some notable trips you’ve done to enjoy cycling?

A: Pretty much all of the trips I’ve taken for cycling have involved traveling for national events all over the US, but my favorite has been cycling in Belgian and Amsterdam to see the cities. The style of riding is so different there and inspiring to bring back a little of that mindset here–cycling for transportation and leisure with a relaxed attitude! I have a couple of bucket list trips that are in the works for 2020!

Q: You’re a Barnstormer Chapter Leader. What does that entail, and is there anything you hope to help other riders find within the club?

A: It means being a resource, ambassador, and guide that provides help, comfort, and access to riding. There have been so many people that have let me follow their wheel, offered an encouraging word, and made me feel welcome as a rider and that’s what I want to pass on as a Barnstormer Chapter Leader. It’s another amazing way to share the fun, freedom, and yes, challenge that the bike brings with a diverse group of people!  

Q: Everyone who rides has something unique to offer. Do you know what you might offer, in that regard?

A: Enthusiasm! But seriously, professionally I bring event management and a passion for healthy living into every project I’m involved with. Ensuring that cycling is accessible and meeting people where they are brings a wonderful satisfaction–I’ve loved helping new riders become more confidant on the bike, exploring different ways to facilitate and support the cycling community (event promotion, rider development, volunteering, etc) is a strong suite. 

Q: What role does cycling play in your current lifestyle?

A: What role doesn’t it play! Cycling is my primary stress relief, workout, social time, and community. It’s a pretty wonderful way to live!