Rider Spotlight: Coral

Editor’s Note: Coral joined us in 2019 with no bike racing experience. In three years, she has not only learned how to fix and maintain a bike, but she’s also riding towards the front of the field at the local races.

Q: When and how did you take up cycling?  

I started riding a bike before I can remember, riding with my family on the weekends and completing my first family bike camping trip when I was age 4. I discovered mountain biking while studying at Gonzaga in Spokane, borrowing a mountain bike to ride at nearby Beacon Hill.

Q: How was your first cyclocross race?

My first cyclocross race was in 2019, literally a few weeks after I joined the team. I rode my then-too-small (and heavy) alloy hardtail, which was actually an advantage since I could ride right through the sand pits with my fat tires. I placed 5th of 17 beginner women. I immediately started searching the used bike ads, eventually purchasing my current cross bike in time for my next race.

Q: How did you find/decide to join Spokeswomen Racing?

After college, I moved to Seattle and started looking for a group of cycling friends. I found the team through a meet-the-team mountain bike ride event advertised on Facebook. The ride was held at Paradise Valley, a place I had never explored. I showed up with a flat tire that I had no idea how to fix, and Heather jumped right into teaching and helping me swap out my tube. I knew immediately after the ride that this was what I was looking for – a fun group of people to call friends and to explore new trails/routes with and a place to learn and grow as a cyclist.

Q: Tell us about your work as a concrete engineer. Would concrete be a good building material for bicycles? Why or why not?  (let’s hear some nerd speak)

I studied Civil Engineering at Gonzaga University, but through my internships, I quickly discovered that I preferred overseeing and coordinating physical construction field work. After graduating, I started as a concrete engineer and really enjoyed working closely with the carpenters, laborers, and finishers working in the field (not what you would typically do as an engineer overseeing a different scope). My basic job description is helping the field crew understand how to build the design the structural engineer and architect have put together while also managing the cost of the work (my company self-performs concrete, which means we essentially act as a subcontractor). I worked on Dexter Yard and am currently working on the Seattle Aquarium Oceans Pavilion project. 

Not really nerd speak, but… Concrete is heavy and breaks easily, I would not recommend it as a replacement for carbon fiber. Concrete is great in compression, but not in tension (spokes of a wheel need to be structurally sound in both).

Q: We’ve also heard rumors that you were a serious martial artist in the past. What was that all about? Should we be afraid if we get in a fist fight with you?

My parents signed my brother up for Wushu (commonly known as KungFu in America) to help him expend his energy. I joined my brother, quitting ballet to attend more Wushu classes. I learned hand forms, forms with swords, cudgels, spears, 9 section chain whips, etc.; they are all forms with no hand-to-hand combat. By the end of high school, I was a black yellow belt.

Q: What are your current cycling goals? 

This year my goal was to compete in a full season of cyclocross. Due to covid and two trips, I only raced half of the MFG series races. In 2023, I am aiming to race more Seward Crits (enjoyed the WTFNB category in 2022), compete in more enduros (LOVED Sturdy Dirty), and then attempt (again) to compete in a full CX season in fall 2023. Each year I have told myself I would do a Gran Fondo, a NW Epic race, Ring of Fire or High Cascades 100 or solo/duo 12 hr Bend/Spokane, and RAMROD/STP. I am finding it hard to focus on just one discipline; they all are so incredibly fun!! 

Q: What are your preferred cycling disciplines and why?

I like all disciplines of riding, I am always changing up which bike I take out of the garage.

I really enjoy off-road racing: CX, XC mountain bike, and enduros. I have done a handful of criteriums, but I find them to be intimidating without the knowledge and skill of handling a road bike in a very tight group of cyclists. Nowadays, I am looking forward to endurance racing much more than the punchy 45 min sprint races, but look back fondly on all of them. The 24 hour XC mountain bike races (Bend and Spokane) are a ton of fun, exhausting and totally worth doing at least once in your lifetime. 

Aside from racing, I enjoy commuting to work (when I can wake up in time), riding on the road, exploring gravel routes from home, and improving my mountain bike handling skills at Tiger and Raging. Oh, I also fell in love with jumping this past summer after taking Fluid Ride courses.

Q: Do you have any other interesting facts to share?

Speaking of Fluid Ride, go take their classes! They were a HUGE confidence boost and will definitely help you in any discipline (but especially mountain bike and CX). 

I have a pet hedgehog named Mocha. She is 3 years old and is the grumpiest lady I know. 

Editor’s Note: We’re excited to see where Coral and cycling will go next!