Keeping Young Girls On Bikes With Molly Hurford

Did you know that between the ages of 8 and 11, girls drop out of cycling (and sports in general) at an alarming rate? To help combat this, Molly Hurford created Shred Girls.

Shred Girls is a series of chapter books aimed at older elementary age girls with stories around, you guessed it, cycling. They are engaging, fun, and successful at keeping girls engaged in cycling at a critical age.

When I first discovered Shred Girls, I knew I needed to get Molly Hurford, the author and creator of the books on the podcast. Molly is also the host of the Consummate Athlete podcast, and many other non-fiction cycling books.

In this episode, we chat about Molly’s books, the state of youth cycling today, saddle sores, training on limited time, and much more.

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About The Host

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @kristenlbonkoski

Interview Transcript

Kristen  

Thank you so much for being here today. And for all the ladies listening who don’t know who you are, can you please tell us just a little bit about yourself to get started?

Molly  

Yeah, sure. Thank you so much for having me. This is super exciting. So I guess the easiest way to put it is I am a cyclist with a running problem. And a chronic book writer slash journalist. I’ve been writing about endurance sports for going on 15 years now, I guess. I’ve written about all things cycling-related. I have a middle-grade series called The Shred Girls. It’s all about getting young girls on bikes. And then I have a whole host of books for more more adult cyclists that are all more nonfiction based. Yeah. And that’s, that’s sort of the very short explanation of what I do.

Kristen  

So I first discovered you through Shred Girls. I have another website for Biking With Kids and have a list of like all the kids books about bikes and shred girls is a little different from most of them, which are, you know, picture books and like for a younger audience, how and why did you decide to write the Shred Girls series?

Molly  

Ooh, so that is actually like what you just said is kind of the exact reason. So there’s a ton of books for young kids about bikes. I mean, I even remember reading, you know, Berenstein Bears when I was a kid, there are books about like, Sister bear getting on a bike. But as far as biking goes between the ages of like 8 and 11 That’s actually when girls drop out of cycling at like this alarming rate. I think it’s between like 80 and 90% of them just stop riding. And you know, there’s there’s so many reasons for that that’s also the age that they’re dropping out of organized sport. And I’ve I’ve long since believed that it’s a largely an identity issue. And this is this is very applicable to myself. I was like a total bookworm when I was a kid, and right around the age of like, eight nine, like I would go out and you know, shred on my bike around my neighborhood with my neighbors and have so much fun. But then around eight, nine years old, I started like feeling that, oh, bookworms, don’t do sports. Bookworms just stay inside and read books and write and do that stuff. So, you know, to kind of keep with this like bookworm identity. And later this, like punk rock identity that I developed. I stopped riding, you know, I stopped doing any sports, really, I mean, I was not the most athletic kid to begin with, we’ll be honest here. But it just, it didn’t occur to me that you could do both of those things. And I think that’s why a lot of girls drop out of sports, it just doesn’t feel like it’s an identity that they can have in addition to all of the other identities that they’re, they’re trying to develop. So, that is obviously a problem that, you know, later in life, I’ve realized is a huge problem because I mean, oh my gosh, that age, think about the skills that you learn at that age. Like if you’re on a mountain bike when you’re 10 years old, you’re abilities are going to be so much greater when you’re 20 years old. Yeah. Yes. Like, when you’re 11, it doesn’t occur to you that going over that rock might, you know, break your wrist or something. You’re not really stressed about your health insurance or going work the next day, you’re just like, Yes, I can rip this and you’re much more bendy and you bounce better. So, learning at that age, huge, huge, huge advantage. And you see that in in men’s mountain biking. And you know, all of the men’s cycling things is like a lot of them started super young, and they developed so much better because of it. So I was trying to ask myself the question like, “Okay, how do you keep girls in at that age?” And being a bookworm, naturally, I gravitated toward – Well, maybe if there was a book about it. And I tell this story all the time. Like I read Baby Sitters Club books, obsessively, when I was a kid, loved them started babysitting because of them. Babysitting is the most boring thing you can do. Like, think about that for a teenager, right? Like, it’s so boring. You sit and you watch a small child. No one wants to do it. But the Baby Sitters Club made it seem super cool. So I was like, Well, if the Baby Sitters Club could make babysitting seem cool, surely I can make bikes seem cool by writing about them, because bikes are actually fun things to do and explore on versus babysitting. So the Shred Girls was was sort of born out of that I always say it’s like Baby Sitters Club, or Nancy Drew, but with bikes, not babysitting or mysteries. So yeah, and that’s, that’s kind of the whole, the whole point was to get young girls who maybe didn’t think that they could ride bikes, or that riding bikes was like a thing that was part of their identity to kind of see that so the bookworms could get on bikes. And then it was also for the girls who already are on bikes and love that to really enjoy reading, so I kind of hit both sides of that. And it’s just been, yeah, super fun to meet all these young girls who are just absolutely doing amazing things on bikes and getting into it and hearing from parents who’ve, you know, they’re like, Oh, my like young cyclist is now reading or my young bookworm is now riding. Yeah.

Kristen  

Yeah, it seems like such good timing too and it’s just like such an exciting time right now, I think for young girls and mountain biking, and kids. And I mean, boys too. But we got like Little Bellas, and you got the high school league that’s producing I think a lot of what you talked about like these, like next level, world class athletes that we didn’t really have on the world circuit 10 years ago, and now that’s becoming a thing because girls are getting started earlier.

Molly  

Exactly. And they’re just learning, you know, even the ones that don’t necessarily want to compete or want to keep going with it. They’re learning that, okay, cool. On bikes, I can hang out with friends, I can, you know, go places when my parents can’t drive me, I can just be outside. And that’s, that’s great, too. So yeah, it’s really helping that, especially like the High School League in NICA is doing such an amazing job of it really instilling that that bike love and letting the kids choose, I think and Little Bellas too like, letting the kids kind of choose where they want to take it. Like there’s no push to be like Uber competitive. But at the same time, if you want to be uber-competitive, cool, we’re here to help you with that, too, which I think is such an important part of development. Because too often I think we get shoved into that, like, ultra-competitive thing, or you’re just out, right. It’s cool to see like, No, we can also just have fun. Yes.

Kristen  

And I think that is one really great thing about cycling. And mountain biking too, is that it’s a lifelong sport, where so many sports you learned as a kid like soccer. I mean, it’s that’s really fun. And you can continue as an adult, but mountain biking is something you can do as an individual sport as an adult. And, yeah, that’s why I’ve really tried to get my son into it, because I feel like this is a sport you can take with you through the rest of your life.

Molly  

Exactly. Yeah.

Kristen  

So we heard from you that you were more of a bookworm as a kid. When did you get into cycling?

Molly  

Oh, man, I was in my first couple years of college I So again, very, very unathletic. But you know, when like, suddenly you hit like 18-19. And like all of your bad habits of like, I don’t know, drinking like a liter of Mountain Dew in the morning and eating bagels for breakfast or something to that effect, I don’t know, start to catch up with you. And you just start feeling like crap. Like it wasn’t. This is not like, oh, I gained the freshman fifteen story. I was just like, No, I absolutely felt like garbage most of the time my freshman year. And finally, I was like, okay, maybe I should try this like working out thing. And, yeah, luckily for me, my RA my freshman year happened to be like this super punk rock guy, but also an Ironman triathlete, so I was like, I saw that and I was like, oh, okay, cool. Here’s this guy who’s doing sort of both of these things. It’s like balancing these two identities and like doing doing an awesome job with it. So I I was like, okay, cool Iron Man, that’s gonna be a thing I should do, like a complete idiot. So I started Yeah, swimming, biking and running, did not get to do an Ironman for a couple years after that it was not like I just went from, like, I can’t run a mile to I’m gonna do an Ironman, but I couldn’t run a mile. So I learned how to run a mile. That was, that was great. I was already capable of swimming, and the biking, you know, like I biked. It’s not like, I’d never been on a bike. And I was using my bike theater on campus, it suddenly, you know, certain kind of up that was intimidating, I guess, leads to one of my books, which I’ll get to in a second. But I, you know, I kind of started writing more and more, and I didn’t really know where to go in our area, we were in kind of a city that is not super welcoming to cyclists where I went to school. But my RA, thankfully was part of the Rucker cycling team. So he knew that I was trying to get into this and he’s like, oh, like, you should join this team. We actually need, you know, women on the team, that would be helpful. So he kind of just like shoved me into that. And they were the greatest humans on the entire planet. And just so welcoming, so lovely. I showed up for the first ride in like, leggings, and like a hoodie sweatshirt, like not like oh, like a biking hoodie sweatshirt, and just like a straight up like normal hoodie. And, you know, like the little tiny like marathon gloves and a helmet. And it was, I think, like 20 degrees out Fahrenheit. It was quite cold, getting like, you know, 45 minutes into this ride. And I’m just frozen. I can’t really feel my hands anymore on the handlebars. And they finally like, look back and I’m like blue. It’s like not functioning as a human anymore. And like all of these wonderful men, like we’re taking off layers and like piling them on me. I mean, arguably, they might have warned me when we first started the ride that I was horribly underdressed, but I don’t think it occurred to them. So that, you know, they got me got me home and like all of this borrowed stuff. And then, you know, helped me kind of develop an actual, like cycling kit, eventually. And yeah, I just kept riding and racing with them. They were really big into cyclocross. So I got really into cyclocross, and that kind of kick started my like, actual, like massive love affair with bikes because cyclocross is just the most fun, the most welcoming. Like, you just can’t beat it for an intro to bike racing, I think. Yeah, and from there, it just kind of kind of kept on and I mentioned that the book thing. That was, that was kind of the impetus for writing my second book, which was Saddle Sore, my Women’s Guide to you and your bike – that’s all about lady parts and the bike because when I started riding, again, I was trying to be a triathlete. So I was, you know, going out and training in, you know, in a summer I would train in a bathing suit, because that’s what triathletes wore. Right? Right. Or like if I wanted to be a little more covered up I would put my either Sophie gym shorts over it, you know, the ones that you like, roll down? Yes, that was my that was my cycling kit for the first like three years I rode – never occurred to me that bike shorts were a thing. Until, you know, finally I got my first like Team kit on Rucker Cycling, like a couple years later. And I was like, What is this? Like? I thought bike shorts were like these fashion things that we were all into in like the 90s? Turns out, nope. They have padding, they make life a lot better. Um, but but no one told me and even the guys on the team, it didn’t occur to them to like, tell me in those early first, you know, six months of riding before the kits for the year came in, no one thought to be like, “You know Molly, bike shorts might be helpful.” Or, you know, even afterwards, like, “Hey, I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but you don’t wear underwear with your bike shorts.” Right? You know, a lot of women get into bikes, because, you know, dads, boyfriends, guy friends. And that tends to mean that, like, they don’t get a lot of this information of how to keep our nether regions happy. Right? Yeah. Because they don’t know how to tell us that. Right.

Molly  

So yeah, that’s that’s kind of why I ended up writing that book and kind of fell into the talking about women’s cycling stuff. Because it’s stuff that I didn’t know, I had wonderful, wonderful guys who got me into it. But there were a lot of things that it just didn’t occur to them were issues.

Kristen  

Right? Absolutely. Aside from the cycling shorts, what other advice do you have for women that are struggling with saddle sores?

Molly  

Ooh, so many things definitely finding the right pair of shorts and I Oh, I’m just gonna throw it out there. bib shorts. Bib shorts are your friend. I know they make you know it can be a little bit more difficult to pee in them, but bib shorts will really help especially if you have stomach or like gut issues on the bike. I find bike shorts tend to cut right into your stomach. Yep. So when you bend over you’ve got this like thing that’s like digging right into your stomach as your you know, your digestive organs are already going through enough we don’t need to like compress the crap out of them. So bib shorts are much more comfortable.

Kristen  

Do you have a favorite pair of bib shorts?

Molly  

I love Velocio stuff I have to say. And I will. I know everyone thinks that they’re super expensive, but they have a great core collection now it’s actually totally reasonably priced. And I will tell you, I have my first pair from them from nine years ago, they like the first run they ever did of them, I still have them, they still work great. So it’s amazing. So worth the investment, like, like, not sponsored at all, like just just really, really love them. So yeah, good shorts is really helpful. Honestly, a bike fit is is really helpful. And I don’t think you necessarily have to go get a bike fit, but just thinking about your bike fit. A lot of the time, we just kind of let the guy at the shop, or you know, again, sorry, husband, boyfriend, whoever, like just sets the seat at a certain height. And it’s like, this is good for you. And we just kind of get on the bike or like, yeah, okay, this is good, really good, I guess. But we could actually play with that a lot and make it more comfortable. So you can look up honestly, like, there’s so many video tutorials now that show you kind of like roughly what it should look like. But when you have your seat too high, you’re really pressing down on your nether regions there and you’re like adding a lot of friction as you’re pedaling, you know, your one side is like pressing down even harder trying to reach the pedal and then the other side rising down really hard. And then when it’s much lower, you kind of end up putting your pelvis in this awkward position where you’re shifting back on it a little bit, you’re a little more on like the very soft sensitive tissue there as your like knees are coming up and just putting you in a really odd angle for the pressure points. So making sure that your bike fit is actually comfortable and honestly being comfortable changing the seat height. And you know, the for after the saddle, whether it’s forward or backwards. Be comfortable playing with that, because I think a lot of us are just terrified of like changing it or like it feels okay ish, like sure I get some chafing and some friction or like weird, you know, sure, I’m a little numb after like two hours, but it’s probably fine. We can we can treat you know, we can experiment we can play with it, put some electrical tape around, you know where it was and just, you know, move it a couple millimeters at a time and see how it feels. So yeah, having the having the comfort to do that I think is just huge. And then the last thing I was talking about chamois cream, my rule of thumb is you don’t need chamois cream if it’s a ride under 90 minutes. If you find yourself needing chamois cream for rides under 90 minutes, it probably means that your your saddle or your bike fit or your your shorts just aren’t really working for you. If you do use it though, it’s a quarter size amount and so many people just like smoosh it onto the chamois and end up with this like great like one guy described it as like a waterslide effect. So you’re literally like slipping and sliding all over your saddle. Or it just like comes up and out of your chamois so you get like a really awkward like, line of goo that’s coming out Yeah. which no one wants. So and I also like applying chamois cream directly to your skin rather than putting it on your chamois and trying to have to do like the Waddle to get it on without getting chamois cream all over your leg. To make sure you actually put the chamois cream where the friction spots are like it doesn’t need to be everywhere it needs to be where you have the saddle sores or where you’re getting that like red chafe skin.

Kristen  

I really liked what you said about just experimenting because I think it is such an individual thing. And we all get saddle sores for maybe slightly different reasons. One, I’ve always suffered from saddle sores and one thing that I’ve done that’s probably semi controversial but I’ve actually given up wearing a chamois on like the mountain bike. I still wear on the road. But on the mountain bike I just like sweat so much more and I’m in and out of the saddle and off off the bike a lot. And so I can just like all that moisture caused me – so giving up chamois on the mountain bike has actually helped me so much. It’s so individual! you got to try lots of things to see what works.

Molly  

Absolutely. And I actually know quite a few women who’ve done that, especially when you’re the kind of mountain biker who actually isn’t pedaling seated a lot of the time like if you are constantly up down up down, like the chamois really only helpful if you’re pedaling for like prolonged amounts of time right oh my gosh on the mountain bike in particular. Like especially if you’re wearing baggy shorts over a chamois Yeah. Oh my gosh, does that get sweaty? Yeah so honestly I I’m with you and I would say like the other option for someone who’s like in that same boat would be like if you if you want to kind of like middle-ground it, there are a lot of briefs now. Like Club Ride makes a great brief – it has like a light chamois but it’s not so much that you’re gonna like cause a ton of sweat that can be kind of this like, Okay, well I don’t quite want to just wear underwear or like, go go without, but I want I don’t want the double shorts in like 100-degree weather.

Kristen  

Right? Yeah, I think that is another big one is just kind of experimenting with different chamois thicknesses. Mm hmm. Um, let’s see. Other than the Shred Girls books that you mentioned and your Saddle Sore books, I know you have some others. Can you tell us about those?

Molly  

Yeah, I’ve actually had to start like piling them before I do any, like, talks or anything. Because I’m like, otherwise I end up forgetting to mention some of them, which I will not get into all of them. There are many. So our three books in the Shred Girls series. Then there’s the Saddle Sore book, my first book was Mud, Snow, and Cyclocross. And that one was from like, 2014. So if you ever want like a snapshot of what cyclocross looked like, in the US, like, back when it was, I would say, experiencing, it’s like, biggest boom, then like, go back and read that. It’s really kind of funny reading it now. And just seeing like, who the players were in it and stuff. But other than that, I have my book on nutrition, which is Fuel Your Rides, or Cycling Nutrition. I did one a couple years ago, The Athlete’s Guide to Sponsorship, just after coaching a lot of youth camps, and realizing that to be like an old person here, kids these days, we’re, we’re kind of approaching sponsorship with a lot of very, like odd ideas. And having worked for a lot of like professional teams, and you know, worked with teams and worked with, you know, tons of different magazines and websites, and all that kind of stuff. And companies. It’s just like, oh, my gosh, these kids just don’t really understand even how to go about thinking about sponsorships. So naturally, that meant, I wrote a book about it, because that’s what I do. And yeah, and I guess my most recent one, other than the most recent Shred Girls was Becoming A Consummate Athlete. So I run a podcast of my husband, the consummate athlete. And that book, we co-wrote together, and it’s sort of just like, a kind of all encompassing approach to a endurance sport lifestyle, we’ll say. So it touches on training, it touches on nutrition, touches on goal setting, and sort of the mindset piece. But then also a lot of the practical stuff. So some of the stuff that’s also in saddle sore, like how to take care of your skin, no matter what kind of endurance sport you’re doing. And my personal favorite chapter, a big section on organizing your gear, because my husband, who’s a cycling coach, he works with a lot of athletes who, you know, are really busy people, like they have full time jobs, they have kids, they have all of these other commitments, and it’s really hard for them to find time to get out and train. So a lot of what we talk about is how you can kind of make that process easier, or, you know, they don’t have time to, like, make healthy meals or anything like that. So we’re trying to kind of think through like, okay, how can you? How can you, you know, take 10 minutes out of like, you’re getting ready routine, because you actually now you actually know where everything is, and you only have like the gear that you like using and you’re not like trying to dig through like 18 drawers to find the gloves and find the helmet and right, having everything, you know, really together and really organized just makes such a huge difference. Because even if you think about like five minutes every day to get if you can save five minutes every day getting ready. That’s like over half an hour a week, which you know, it doesn’t sound like much, but in a year, that’s like 26 hours of training right there. So, which is awesome. My my big thing I talked about was like that, and I talked about it in the book is doing five to 10 minutes of like mobility or core or whatever you want to call it. Quick yoga flow like every morning for 10 minutes. That’s like 10 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s 52 hours a year.

Kristen  

That’s awesome.

Molly  

Which is so much, right? Yeah. And if you know, make that a habit, you don’t actually notice it. It doesn’t really like take time out of your day once you’re used to doing it. So I think that’s that’s how I’ve stayed relatively injury-free for the last few years, as I’ve been doing 10 minutes of mobility every morning for the past eight years.

Kristen  

I love that you’re focusing on kind of like cycling for the normal person, the average person, right? Because I feel like so often we read books or listen to these podcasts. And there, you have to be like a professional cyclist, it has to be your full time job to do what’s being suggested. And if that doesn’t apply to you, then you might as well just, you know, just be a casual weekend warrior rider. And I think that there’s so much room in between those two places that you can train without having to be a 20 hour a week full time kind of job.

Molly  

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. And to not feel bad about only having, you know, five hours a week to train like you can do a lot in five hours. That’s fine. That’s great. You can crush it in your age group if that’s the case. So yeah, I think you’re exactly right. Like every time I listen to some, like, you know, running or cycling podcasts, always these and I mean, we’re certainly guilty of it. We have professionals on occasionally too. You know, you hear about it and you’re just like, “Wait, all of the things they just listed. That’s their full time job like that’s literally what they’re doing for work all day. Of course, I don’t have time to do that or like can’t do all of that. Like that’s unrealistic for me. So what is realistic for me?” And so many people get down on themselves and just like give up after hearing, you know, like, oh, okay, this person trains 20 hours a week. Cool. I’m totally going to do that like, Okay, I can’t train 20 hours a week? Well, I guess I just can’t do this at all and I’m out, or just get so down on themselves, because they don’t have the time or ability to do that. But yeah, there’s there’s so much room to play in the middle of the extremes.

Kristen  

What do you think are the biggest things that make the biggest difference for the least amount of time?

Molly  

Ooh, good question. I love that. Let’s say if I so if I only had like, say, five hours a week to train, I was I was like bike-focused, I think I would really, I’d probably do like 4-15 minute like pretty serious strength workouts like I do this, what I call like my easy strength workout, which is just like 15-20 minutes of just like blasting through sort of a quick series of, you know, squats, like overhead press, pull-ups, that kind of stuff. So very easy. I do it at home. It’s not like I’m at a gym squatting. I’m using like a kettlebell. I would do that a few times. Just because if you do that quickly enough, it actually does kind of serve as good a little cardio there. I probably hop on for probably hop on the trainer like, say two times for like 45 minute workouts, or I was doing quick warm-up, quick cooldown. And then you have some 30/30s or something, some really hard efforts. And then I would probably try to get in like one, one decently long ride a week, if I could, totally time dependent, and I would be trying to sneak walks in as much as possible, even though that doesn’t technically count towards my like, total training volume, per se. I think so many people neglect the walking when they can. And it’s such a huge – especially if you’re if you’re just starting out, like honestly, if you’ve got a heartrate monitor on, you haven’t walked in a while and you go for like a pretty brisk walk, you can get your heart rate up to like, low endurance if you if you’re moving pretty good. So Peter and I will do you know, every evening, we have a dog, so obviously, you have to walk it right even before we got DW we would, you know, go out for like a walk after work. And that’s like how we ended the day. You know, if he’s doing calls with clients, he’ll go out and walk whenever he doesn’t need to be in front of a computer for them. Unfortunately, it’s a little harder to do calls on walks when you’re doing podcasts. That would be a little a little difficult for me.

Kristen  

I have actually heard that before, like somebody being interviewed well, like going on a walk, but probably wouldn’t work well for me.

Molly  

Yeah, I’ll save my feelings on that. I feel like okay, no, I’m gonna say I feel like that’s very disrespectful. Yes, I’d be very grumpy if someone did that to me. You hear like the wind gush as you’re going. But anyway. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty much what I would do. Like, other than that, I mean, that’s a normal week, for most people who are training even 10 hours a week, those are sort of the core things, and then you’re really just beefing it up with endurance miles for the most part. So I think, you know, you can do a lot with five hours of training.

Kristen  

I love that the first thing you said was strength training, though, because I think that that’s probably the piece that most people who are only training five hours a week are skipping all together, myself included, it’s my least favorite part.

Molly  

100%, but it’s so much more bang for your buck. Like, I hate to say it, but you know, if your time crunched, like, to me strength training is just so important. Like, obviously, on bike time really, really, really matters. And I may be coming at this from like the perspective of someone who is relatively bike trained. So it’s not like they’re just starting out and have never ridden more than, you know, 30 minutes at a time or something like that. But I just think it’s I think it’s so important. And like there are times in the year where I’m not strength training a couple times a week, like I just, I just did my big race for the year, which is 100-mile trail run. So running, not biking. And for the two months before that I stopped doing strength altogether just to try to cut down on anything other than running, just to like give myself as much recovery as humanly possible. But I had such a good base that that was possible for me to do and not feel like I was just losing all my strength.

Kristen  

Right. But your trail running, do you feel like it is a good complement to your cycling?

Molly  

I think my cycling helped immensely when it comes to doing these longer races for sure. I mean, even when I was like first getting into Ultra running, I would be still coaching these cycling camps in the winter. Obviously COVID kind of changed that so I had more trail focused time. But I mean in 2020, we were in Spain coaching cycling camps for like seven weeks where I was on the bike for 20 hours a week and trying to like sneak in little runs before and after rides. And I think that gave me such a massive aerobic, like volume base that I was able to very quickly get into like a ton of run volume without having to like really like slowly ramp it up or without having the injuries that usually go with a big running volume. So I think for, for anyone who wants to run long distances, biking is such a good complement to that because it lets you build your engine without straining your legs or your knees or, you know, all the things that typically get injured when you run.

Kristen  

Yeah, I personally, I like to switch off. And I don’t know a lot of cyclists to do this, but I really like running as a complement to my cycling. I feel like my legs feel a lot fresher when I switch off between the two. And that just keeps me from getting bored on the bike too.

Molly  

Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, I hate to say it, because I recognize we’re a biking podcast here. Yeah, but I do also think like, when you are time crunched, like running, honestly, yeah, you’re just gonna get more bang for your buck. I hate to say it, but…

Kristen  

It is true. I can even like get to trails right from my garage here. But it’s still faster for me to go run. Like it’s still somehow so much easier just to put on a pair of tennis shoes, as opposed to like my helmet and my gloves and my water pack and make sure my chain is lubed and my tires are inflated and all that.

Molly  

Exactly, exactly. And you don’t need like, you know, with running you’re pretty much like instantly you’re in your workout. Biking -you have to do a bit of a slower rollout to get warmed up. And running, you’re just right there. Yeah. But that said like I do – I honestly – when I finished that race, I was like, “Okay, good. I missed biking.” And like I was literally back on the bike like the next week, just I mean, very casual pedals on the on the trainer. But I was so happy to be back on the bike for the first time in a while because like, I had to neglect it purposefully for the last few months. So getting back on, it’s just like, “Ha, I missed this.”

Kristen  

Yeah. The Consummate Athlete podcast. First of all, it’s great. I listen to it while I run. So if anybody’s listening who hasn’t listened to it yet, make sure you do. Um, I’m curious. Who is your favorite person you’ve ever interviewed on it?

Molly  

Oh my gosh, that is such a tough question. Cuz I feel like every time we put out an episode, I’m like, that was my favorite. Honestly, one of my absolute favorites, has been Katerina Nash, we’ve had her on a couple times, just an ultimate badass as far as like just human beings go. She’s also like, on my top list of like people I really enjoy like sitting down for like a drink or a meal with which like, I’ve been able to do a couple of times. And it’s always just like, the greatest moment of my life. But like, she just has such an amazing, you know, journey, story or whatever you want to call it just between cross-country skiing and mountain biking, and I mean to be just as strong of an athlete as she’s been for two decades, and continue to just be crushing it. I think it’s like a it’s a huge testament to the power of cross training. And, you know, she she also is like heavily into like doing walks with her dogs and doing hikes and like little runs with them and stuff like that. And it’s just, yeah, such an amazing, amazing, like athletes all around. Plus, I think she’s one of the very few cyclists who could beat me in an arm wrestling competition. So I like deeply appreciate that about her. Yeah, she’s, she’s just so much fun to have on because she’s just no BS just like such a great interview every time.

Kristen  

You mentioned earlier, your coaching, what is your background in coaching? Are you a USA Cycling-certified coach?

Molly  

Yeah, so I’m USA Cycling certified, like the lower level up in Canada with that NCCP. I’m also like a community-initiated or whatever, Coach, I always forget the exact terminology because they change it like every year. And I have I have yoga teacher training certification. Yeah, and mainly when I when I talk about coaching, like I’m not on training peaks, like actually like writing training plans for people. That’s my husband who actually is like, the highest level of certification you can be and he’s a registered Kinesiologist. And that’s what he’s done with his life for the past 25 years, I think now, which is pretty bananas, maybe not 25. 20, at least, between 20-25, he does more of that side of things. I’ll just really be sort of like the side person on coaching projects. So if we’re running women’s camp, we ran one in Spain a couple years ago, or with with Ontario Cycling or Cycling Canada, they’ll run Junior Development Camps. And, like, I’ve gotten to go along with that because they they tend to need women coaches who can actually like keep up with the girls on stuff and can you know, take a couple of weeks and work remotely while they’re also riding with the girls. So I’ve been really lucky to get to do that. So that’s more like where I fall into coaching. Oh and Ellen Noble, former pro cyclocross, are currently on racing hiatus, but we’ll come back eventually. She and I have run her quest camp, which has been cyclocross. We’re actually going to try for a mountain bike one this year. We’ve run that one for young women the past few years. And that’s just been so much fun. And Peter obviously helps with that too.

Kristen  

I also am a USA Cycling level three coach or whatever. And I don’t do any coaching. But I think it’s just like such a interesting thing to learn about if you’re going to work in the cycling industry in general. Yeah. So anybody who’s like interested in doing it, I’d recommend it even if, even if you’re not going to actually coach athletes.

Molly  

I completely agree. And I think actually, even if you have any, like goals, if you have time to do it, it’s a great thing to do. And if you have goals in cycling, I think it actually gives you this really good base of understanding what it is that you’re like getting from a coach or like that you want to be getting from a coach, it makes you a much better advocate for yourself with a coach and much, much less likely to end up with like, a coach that like doesn’t really fit with you or like being not bullied by a coach, but like persuaded to do things by a coach who maybe like, isn’t as like, well versed in the things you want to do as they should be.

Kristen  

We’re almost out of time. But first, and I got three final questions for you. But before we do that, where can people find you and connect with you?

Molly  

Yes, well, I’m over at consummateathlete.com. If that’s too hard to spell, which I know sometimes it gets very confusing. I sometimes misspell it, you can just go to Molly Hurford calm which is probably also equally difficult to spell or find me on Instagram @mollyjhurford. Or Consummate Athlete @consummateathlete.

Kristen  

What does consummate mean?

Molly  

All around. So you know, if you look at like James Bond, you’d hear him describe as like the consummate gentleman where he could, like, you know, parachute out of a plane, like onto a yacht and like, fit in perfectly and be you know, at the winning at the gambling table. But then also, like scuba dive out to this thing to do this, you know, just someone who can do all of these things. And we love to the idea of being this consummate athlete, so you can, you know, go go out for a 50 mile ride on Saturday, but then head out for a hike on Sunday, or maybe like even add in a little bit of rock climbing or you know, go to the gym and feel comfortable or jump into the pool and feel comfortable. So this person who can kind of do all of these different modalities of movement and enjoys doing them.

Kristen  

And so first question for you is what bike or bikes do you ride?

Molly  

Oh my gosh, well, this is like an embarrassing one as far as my mountain bike goes, because I am currently on a Specialized Stumpjumper from like, 2011. Because like a dummy, I had sold my mountain bike and I was planning to get a new one. Yeah. And obviously, that’s been a little impossible, which is very upsetting. And then as far as my cross bike, well, I call it my everything bike. Currently, I’m just on a Trek Crockett, again, not like a super new or super fancy bike. I was very lucky the past couple years I’ve been reviewing a lot of really rad like gravel, cyclocross bikes – a Liv cyclocross bike that I was trying that I just loved like they almost didn’t get it back I almost just was like, “Oh, sorry guys. I lost it. I don’t know, weird.” Haha and I had a factor before that. That was their – one of the original gravel ones I was just – the Vista was the name of it, and I was in love with it. So that’s that’s the bright side of some of my jobs allow me to try out these other bikes Yeah, that means my current bike selection is like a little a little patchy because of the pandemic and supply chain.

Kristen  

It’s been terrible. My husband has had to like keep replacing parts on my bike because I can’t get a new mountain bike not to get the one I want anyway. Yeah, he had to just put brand new brakes on it and just put a ton of money into like, keep upgrading this bike and so on.

Molly  

Well, that’s what we get. Peter keeps being like, “Oh, we could change this and this and this on your mountain bike.” And I’m like, “By the time we do that we’ve paid for a new mountain bike. Yeah, we’re just gonna wait.”

Kristen  

It’s terrible. So someday, I was just at the bike shop yesterday, though, and they told me it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. So um, second question is: What is your favorite place you’ve ever ridden your bike?

Molly  

Oh, man, it’s cliche to say it but like Girona just comes to mind as just like the absolute like most beautiful, most fun, most bike-friendly city. For those of you who don’t know, it’s about an hour and a half out of Barcelona in Spain and it’s just a beautiful bike-friendly town. It’s where all the pros tend to like live and train in the in the winter even like American and Canadian pros will have apartments over there because it’s still reasonably inexpensive to live and, and train out of there. So it’s one of my all time favorite places.

Kristen  

b

Last question is: What is your favorite thing about biking?

Molly  

Oh, jeez, like end on the hardest one. I’m like everything which I’m sure everyone says, of course. Yeah. There’s just nothing that beats the freedom of being out on your bike and just going into the middle of nowhere and knowing that you can, you can ride yourself out. You know, I’m not as big of a group rider as I am just like a solo rider. And to me, there’s just like, nothing more fun than just being in the woods by yourself. Just doing your own thing at your own pace, just completely, completely free.

Are You Listening To The Femme Cyclist Podcast?!?

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A podcast for women who love bicycles! We we celebrate all forms of riding and all forms of women, so whether you’re a road cyclist, mountain biker, or bike commuter, you’ll find your community here. Each week we’ll week bring you interviews from inspiring women, and offer tips and tricks to help you thrive on the bike.

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