There are some people that you follow online and they feel so relatable that you feel like you really know them in real life. For me, one of those women is Abigail Snyder who I’ve been following along with over the last few years as she’s made the transition from amateur to professional mountain bike racer. She seems like such a good genuine person, that when she asked to come on the show, I jumped at the chance to get to video chat with her in real life.
In this interview, Abigail shares a glimpse into training and racing–but the most interesting part of our conversation to me, was the topic of mindset. Abigail has actually hired a mindset coach–something you might want to do after you listen to this episode.
Stuff We Chat About In This Episode
- How Abigail got started in mountain biking and her first race
- Why you should hire a mindset coach
- The importance of consistency
- Why nutrition and sleep are needle movers
- How she juggles a teaching job, bike shop job, and training
- Using a chiropractor or physical therapist
- The race community
- Why the Epic Rides races are so awesome
- What it’s like being a woman working in a bike shop
Links Mentioned In This Episode & Related Resources
- OSMO Nutrition*
- Feed Zone Portables Cookbook*
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck*
- Grit, by Angela Duckworth*
Connect With Abigail
- IG: @abigail_316
- Website: https://abigail613.wordpress.com/
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/1870853
Shop Terry Bicycles: https://snp.link/ec5492d4
Connect With Femme Cyclist
- IG: @femme_cyclist
- FB Group: Femme Cyclist Community
- IG: @kristenlbonkoski
Music Credit: https://josephmcdade.com/music
Listen To The Femme Cyclist Podcast On Your Favorite Podcast App
Kristen Bonkoski 02:01
So to get started, for anybody who doesn’t know who you are, who is Abigail Snyder?
Abigail Snyder 02:24
I am an English teacher, and a mountain bike racer, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, although that soon to be changing. I’ve been racing for about four years now, if 2020 counts and excited to be competing at the elite or pro level, and seeing where that takes me.
Kristen Bonkoski 02:47
And how did you first get into mountain biking?
Abigail Snyder 02:51
So that’s kind of a fun story. Because I have been cycling pretty much my entire life. My family, when I grew up, we would go out for road rides to go get pizza or ice cream. And I’d be there on my little like 20 inch bike pedaling along. Then we’d go you know, 13 or 23 miles. And that was kind of what we did all through elementary school, middle school. And then I got into horses stopped riding kind of did the typical, like Middle High school girl thing where I was like, all in horses. I didn’t have friends who rode bikes. So I didn’t, I didn’t touch my bike for years. And then eventually in college kind of got back a little bit into writing mostly for commuting, and then started working part time at a bike shop just to pay the bills. And that’s when threw the bike shot met people who were like, you should try mountain biking. So I got a mountain bike and well, you have the mount bike, you should race your mount bike. I don’t know about that. Like, I was actually really scared to be quite honest. Like I was like, I’m gonna hit a tree and like die like. But eventually they talked me into it. And I did my first mountain bike race and just a local race here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area and totally loved it. And I was kind of I was kind of hooked. So that was in 2017 that I did that first race. And yeah, that was the beginning of the end, as they call it.
Kristen Bonkoski 04:15
How did you go from that first race to deciding that you wanted to get your pro card and actually do this more seriously?
Abigail Snyder 04:22
Yeah, I would say for about the first year I kind of just got involved with a local Indiana series. So it’s called it’s an organization called Dino and they do five or six mountain bike races around Indiana each summer. And so I did that kind of finished out that first season by doing kind of two of their events and then in 2018 did their entire series as a sport level racer, which would be like a USA cycling cat three, I think. And so did that and really found a lot of success. Maybe just because it was really simple. All fields and I, once I got started, I really wasn’t scared. I was like, Okay, this is fun, I can go fast, the trails are really not technical at all. And, and I’m having fun with this, and so was consistently kind of, you know, getting on the podium, you know, first second third kind of, and really having fun with it. And it was kind of towards the, the end of that second season where I had some mentors from the bike shop who had been racing for years and years and years. And older gentleman, he’s like, you should really, you know, try, you know, leveling up, like, you know, try moving up into the Expert Field, try, you know, entering the pro open field at this bigger Midwest race called Iceman, where they do have a pro field and some of the big pro riders come out Chloe Rudolph has been there a couple of years, hanifin champ, you know, some of these girls who were on the Olympic, long team, you know, they would come out to race this, and He’s, uh, you know, it’s an open field, even though it’s with the pro women, you should really try it. And I said, Okay. So, in 2019, I did sign up for that, you know, that pro open field, and I guess it would be 2018 sorry, in the fall of 2018, I signed up for that pro open field and just kind of went for it, and how a lot of fun with it and said, Okay, if I’m going to do this, like, I’m gonna start training, I’m gonna get a coach and kind of just jumped into the process headfirst? Where do you always really competitive before this? Um, I was competitive, but more like with myself. Okay. And I would say that that’s true, even now, the example I think of is that I played volleyball a little bit like, during, and shortly after college, and I would never get like, frustrated with my team, if we didn’t do well. But I would get frustrated with myself for not playing to the level that I knew that I was capable of. And I think that that’s really true, even with Cycling is, I don’t tend to really care that much whether I on the podium or on, you know, 23rd. But I do care if I put forth my best effort. Yeah. So I think it’s still very much a personally competitive thing versus a, you know, an outward competitiveness. Yeah, I love that. I think that, like the people who really thrive mountain biking, and or any kind of racing, I think are like that, or if you because it’s too much, too much externally focused. It’s not. It’s not enjoyable. Right? Right. And I mean, if you think about it, like, if you have a, you know, a really big field that’s maybe like, in the women’s field, that tends to be like, 30 to 40 riders, I mean, that would be a really big mountain bike field. Only three of those people are on the podium, you know, so if I was like, obsessed with being on the podium, I’m not going to be, you know, successful. So often, like the, the, the ratio of the number of that is not very high. And so, you know, it almost has to be beyond that, if you want to find any kind of success or joy in that process. What was your first race as a professional? It actually was Iceman 2019. So Well I would say Iceman in 2019, is the first race that I did with a pro card. So I had done the 2018 race in the pro field. And then in 2019, I did two of the epic rides, races, both whiskey 50, and the eyes off road, in the pro open field as well. But then it wasn’t until November, really just before Iceman that USA cycling gave me my pro card. So it was that same field that I had done a year before, but this time I like actually had the pro card. And then COVID hit, and then COVID hit Exactly, exactly. So I had a huge season all lined up for last year and ended up really playing it very conservatively. So even the events that did happen, I participated in a couple of the local Dino series races here in Indiana, because I knew that those would be you know, maybe a field of five at the most. And then you know, once you’re in the woods, it’s very spaced out, but often not to do any of the other racesuntil this spring again.
Kristen Bonkoski 09:35
And Can we talk for a moment about you’ve mentioned that in addition to regular coaching, you also have a mindset coach. What is a mindset coach?
Abigail Snyder 09:46
Yes, so this is something that I started working with a mindset coach in the summer of 2019, just before USA cycling nationals, and it was actually something that I was interested in because I had fun. Suddenly, as the courses got a little bit more challenging, and the fields got a little bit bigger, I found myself getting kind of anxious about some of the races and some of the events and some of even the trails that I was writing. And so, you know, someone said, Well, why don’t why don’t you work with a mindset coach. And so I got some recommendations from other pro cyclists that I knew, and made the call, and I work with Mario from utmost performance. And really, what he does is help work me throughmy own mindset in a way that when we go into a race that I am focused more on my own performance, and, you know, internal motivations and process goals rather than being focused on the outcome. But I found like, as I’ve been working with him, you know, 2019, and then all through COVID, last year in 2020, and then now into this season, like, It spans so far beyond performance, like, I find that some of the stuff that I talk with Mario, my coach with his stuff that I can then turn around and tell my students in the sixth grade English classroom where I teach things where, you know, we talk about growth, and how challenges and obstacles are not things that should cause us to want to give up, but things that should cause us to want to try even harder, those are opportunities for us to become better than to learn rather than to, you know, be defeated by. and so on the trail that might look like, Oh, I’m in the middle of race, and I have a flat tire. Okay, you know, instead of just like wanting to throw my bike down and give up and say, well, there’s no way I can win now. The mindset kind of approach or you know, process would be to look at that flat tire and say, okay, you know, how am I going to solve this problem right now, and be more curious and open minded going into it. So, you know, taking that, you know, five minutes, or 10 minutes, or whatever it is to fix the tire, then to get back up on my bike, and then just keep writing and evaluate that ride based on did I ride the very best that I can ride today? Rather than being like, wow, I had a flat tire, there’s no way I’m going to podium today. And just being defeated and disappointed in that. And then, like I said, I turn that around to my, my sixth graders. And I’m like, you know, hey, you didn’t do very well on this assignment. But that’s an opportunity where we can do better next time. And we can use it as a, you know, a springboard or a platform for learning. And so I think it’s been really awesome to really apply the sport based performance based mindset practices to everyday life, because it is just so much bigger than just when I’m on my bike. It’s the rest of life too.
Kristen Bonkoski 12:57
Yeah, I love that, as the biggest thing for me personally, is taking the lessons and the confidence that I get on the bike and applying it just to regular life and using it as a tool to improve as a person.
Abigail Snyder 13:11
100% Yeah, if I if I can share, like, last summer and fall, I was really, really struggling with this sudden fear of like logs on the trail. I know, you would think like, Oh, she’s a professional mountain biker, she’s not scared of logs on the trail. But I was like, terrified of logs on the trail, like, I would come across this log, and it didn’t even have to be very big and like, panic, like hyperventilating, like, tears everywhere, just like panic attack with these logs on the trail. And this was a thing that, like, I worked with my mindset coach on, but I also worked with my cycling coach as well and said, Guys, like, this is a problem, like, What do I do? Like, I don’t feel like I can control this fear. And it was really this process last fall of like, really taking a step back and saying, Well, why why am I afraid of this, and it’s okay to be afraid of this. And it’s okay to slow down. And it’s okay to, you know, take the time to practice the skills necessary to be successful going over these logs, like, I have this,this expectation sometimes that like, you know, I always have to go fast, and I can’t slow down, I can’t practice these skills. But no, it’s okay to slow down. And that’s what I did. And so I put like a fence post in my driveway, on the sidewalk in front of my house and like practice hopping that over and over and over and I’d take a video of myself and I’d send it to my coach. And then the next day I’d be on a coat a call with my mindset coach and you know, we’d talk through like, Okay, well, what’s the process? What are you thinking as you do this? How are you approaching this? And are you having that growth mindset of, I can’t do this yet and saying, you know, instead of really focusing on the fact that I can’t do this, I’ll never be able to Do this kind of this like, really closed box. Yeah, mindset. And I had a race yesterday and in the race, there was this relatively large law comparatively anyway. And as I’m racing, I was able to just like bunny hop over it. And I had this moment of being like, Oh my gosh, like this would have terrified me last year, and really being able to see that progress is so so cool. And so I really attribute like, you know, the, the success I was able to have yesterday with that, that little thing of hopping over a log to working with my mindset coach, because I really think like, as excellent as my cycling coaches in teaching skills, and whatever, like, that was an area where I needed more than just the physical skills, like I really needed some help in working through my own fears. And my own like I can’t, to be able to kind of learn to do that. And I also know, like, Okay, I’m okay, going over logs. Now, there’s going to be other things that that scare me that are going to challenge me that I have to apply that same learning mentality to for those of us that aren’t professional cyclists, it, you still think it’s a good idea to work with a mindset coach, I really do. And I’ve even said, like, you know, if there comes a point where I stopped racing, you know, at the elite level, and maybe I just go ride my mountain bike for fun, because I can’t imagine not riding my bike, right? I think I would still work with a mindset coach, maybe not as frequently, but maybe more on like, maybe a monthly basis, instead of, you know, a weekly call where, you know, I still check in and I still have a chance to kind of debrief and kind of say, well, this ride, how did that ride go and kind of processing that because I think that too, is something that a lot of times as riders we tend to skip over, we don’t go back and evaluate like, okay, I had this ride yesterday, maybe I had this self challenge of I want to ride 80 miles, and I did it. But then we stopped there and don’t go back and say, Well, what went well? And what can I improve on next time. And I think even that process of debriefing and debriefing with someone can be really helpful.
Kristen Bonkoski 17:18
That’s awesome. So if you wanted a mindset coach, where would somebody find one?
Abigail Snyder 17:24
There’s honestly, there’s probably a lot of like sports performance and mindset coaches out there. Like I said, I work with Mario Atmos performance. And he’s based in Texas, but obviously works remotely. Like I said, I assume there’s others out there. But I, I was recommended to, you know, Mario was recommended to me by another cyclist. And so I just kind of went with that. And I’ve been really happy. Are there any other mindset tools that you’ve used, you have any books that you’d recommend or podcasts that you listen to? or anything like that? Yeah, so I actually, I really enjoy like the the topic of mindset and performance. And so I listened to a podcast called the growth equation with Brad Stolberg. And a blank on the other guy’s name was called the growth equation. And they’ve also written a couple of books, one of which I think is called the passion paradox. And so I’ve enjoyed that. The the woman who’s actually been behind the whole theory of growth mindset is Carol Dweck. Yeah, and she’s a psychologist. So I’ve read her book. But yeah, I love all books and podcasts and information that have to do with, you know, mindset and performance and training and the science of all of that. So yeah, I think what’s, I can’t think of the name of the book.
Kristen Bonkoski 18:48
Is it called grit? Is that the right one?
Abigail Snyder 18:51
I feel like there’s grit. I also feel like there’s one that may actually be called growth mindset or something along those lines.
Kristen Bonkoski 19:00
I’ll look it up. And I’ll include it in the show notes. I know what book you’re talking about. And it is really excellent.
Abigail Snyder 19:05
Yeah, I would normally just look over at my bookshelf, but all my books are packed in boxes.
all my books are upstairs. So yeah, we’ll include that in the show notes for anybody who wants to go find that one.
Kristen Bonkoski 19:17
For you, other than mindset, what are your What do you think are the biggest needle movers for you? Is it training? Is it nutrition? Is it some kind of combination? What do you feel like moves the needle the most for you?
Abigail Snyder 19:32
I really, if I had to cook one word, I would say consistency. And that kind of spans all of those areas. So you know, it’s consistency in training. It’s consistency in nutrition. And for me too, it’s really consistency in like sleep slash recovery. And that’s probably the hardest one because, you know, working full time as a middle school teacher and then you know, trying to train full time and then I actually have a part time job at a bike shop like there’s not a ton of time leftover and so I have to be really, really intentional to make sure that that last piece of the puzzle is consistent as well. So like, I’m pretty religious about, like, I go to bed at 10pm. Because I need I know that I need to get up by six it really at the latest, you know, to fit everything in my day. And I want those eight hours of sleep. And I yeah, like if I get less than that, that I really notice. its effects on like, my, my physical performance or my cycling performance, but also just like my performance everywhere else during the day, like, I’m just not as sharp and don’t move on this quickly. But yeah, I feel like that’s made a big difference. Nutrition is an area where I’ve really focused over the last couple of years, I’ve worked with a couple dieticians often on usually during the offseason, but kind of just trying to like dial that in. So figuring out like, not only like what kinds of foods to eat, like on a regular basis, which I feel like has been a process as well, but also like what to eat on on the bike. And that’s always something that’s like evolving a little bit too. As I’ve started moving into, like longer distance races this year, I’ve been kind of experimenting a little like, Okay, what can I eat while I’m writing? And what can I eat for you know, the six hour races? Where I’m not like tired of it, but I’m still digesting it after three or four hours. Yeah, so that’s always a always an experiment. But yeah, I think consistency kind of across the board is what makes the biggest difference. I think for me, have you found you mentioned nutrition? Have you found a nutrition product that you really like and what about hydration as well. Hydration I’ve been really happy using like the Osmo hydration products they make like an active hydration. And I use that like every ride. So training rides, braces, indoor training rides, all of it like there’s Osmo in my bottles, and I’ve been really happy with that. Other nutrition products, I kind of use a mixture of things. So like I like the honey Stinger waffles. I like the untapped waffles. But they’re hard to eat during a race. So for training rides, I’ll usually have a lot of those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve recently found like these little like, they’re kind of like Fig Newtons except they’re like, I think they’re all they’re more like all natural, but they’re they’re moister. They’re not as dry as Fig Newtons and I’ve started using those and I just get them at like Costco or Sam’s Club, I think is where my mom bought some for me. You know, playing with stuff like that. I like making my own fried food. So I make like the sweet potato cakes that come from it’s like the scratch labs, I think portable. What’s it called portable nutrition or something feed zone portable cookbook. And so like, my favorite out of that is these little sweet potato cakes. They’re mostly sweet potato with some maple syrup. And yeah, you bake them and I love putting those in a Ziploc bag and taking them with me on the rides.But yeah, so on on food bike tends to vary, like I use all kinds of things.So yeah.
Kristen Bonkoski 23:18
Um, so you mentioned a moment ago about working full time as a teacher and also having this part time job at a bike shop and training, how do you keep yourself from getting burnt out other than sleep, which you mentioned.
Abigail Snyder 23:31
I think it helps that I really love what I do. So I love the writing, I you know, enjoy the community that comes with working at a bike shop. And I really do love teaching English and teaching middle school English. And I’ve been really blessed to have some awesome co workers at the school where I’ve been teaching these last couple of years. And so I think that that really helps. Beyond that, I think it’s its relationship. So just I say a lot of times that I have this team behind me. And that team is everyone from you know, my boyfriend to my co workers at the bike shop who you know, really kind of sometimes go out of their way to make my my cycling career happen. Like the mechanics are probably sick of me because I bring in my bike and I’m like, Guys, I’m really trying to learn how to you know, fix this bike on my own, but I have no idea what’s going on. It’s creeping or, you know, this this brake is being weird or whatever it is like and you know, and they’re they’ve just been so patient over the years. So like, help me with all my bike mechanic stuff. And then you know, even just like you know, the chiropractor and the strength and conditioning coaches and just the different people that surround me and support me and encouraged me.They’re what make it possible, really.
Kristen Bonkoski 24:53
What do you use a chiropractor for?
Abigail Snyder 24:56
I have worked kind of with my chiropractor ever since my volleyball year. It’s mostly I go when I have some kind of random injury. So with mountain biking as we probably all know, you’re going to fall eventually. And we have to do like there’s these aches and pains. And I’ve been really lucky that I’ve very rarely had any serious injuries. But, you know, just muscles that need worked out or need straighten out a little bit. So, you know, I show up and he’s like, Oh, no, what’d you do this time? I love the fact that he will give me some exercises to help me strengthen whatever instabilities I have. So, you know, Lately, I’ve been dealing with a strained hamstring. And so I have these exercises that I lay on the floor during my lunch break at school, and I do these exercises to help strengthen my glute muscles to stabilize that hamstring and kind of support it and reduce some of the inflammation there. So yeah, that’s kind of myjourney with my chiropractor slash physical therapist.
Kristen Bonkoski 25:57
So for women who are listening, who have never tried racing before, but think that it could be something they would like to try, What tips do you have for them?
Abigail Snyder 26:05
Just go out and do it. Like, it’s okay to be slow. Nobody cares. We’re just stoked that you’re out there racing. And, you know, go out, give it a try, and then just embrace the community that’s out there. I think as racers, that’s part of what a lot of us have missed the most. Throughout this COVID pandemic, and the lack of racing, it’s not the fact that going fast on the trails is fun it is, and you can do that by yourself. But what you can’t do is go out there go fast on the trails, and then hang out with a bunch of really cool rad women who also went fast on the trails afterwards. And it’s kind of that community that I know, I’m really excited to have back. And like I said, we just want to see more women out there racing. So it doesn’t matter if you finish 510 15 minutes after the next person there. You might also surprise yourself and you might be faster than you think you are. Yeah, so yeah, just go out there and give it your best.
Kristen Bonkoski 27:07
Yeah, I like that, that you mentioned the community too, because I think a lot of people assume it might not be a very welcoming community, or everybody might be really intimidating. And in my experience, it’s just like a really fun inclusive community. And, and especially mountain biking.
Abigail Snyder 27:23
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I went to this this race yesterday in Kentucky, and I’ve never raced down there before. And I showed up and it’s, it’s of course raining, because why wouldn’t it be? But all of us women who are waiting for the start, we’re all hanging out, like under this garage door. And just kind of saying like, Hey, where are you from? Have you written here before? and kind of just chatting and like, yeah, you know, a group of five of us. That’s all there were yesterday, just kind of hanging out having fun in the rain. And then afterwards, like awesome job, like you did really well out there. Like, that’s what mountain bike racing is. And that’s part of the why it’s so so much fun to do.
Kristen Bonkoski 28:00
What’s your favorite race you’ve ever done?
Abigail Snyder 28:04
I have to say that the epic rides oz back country race in Bentonville has like kind of a special place in my heart. It’s I’ve only done it once before. But it was kind of that race that I did just before I got my pro card. And I competed in the open pro field. But it was that race where I finally was like, I’m, I belong here, like, kind of move past that. Like, oh, I’m not really a pro. I don’t really belong here. This is way over my head. And I was kind of in the middle of that race. And really still like very middle of the pack, but was racing and realizing like yeah, I belong here with all these other women. And I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. And I found like this I don’t know, like this freedom and joy and just like, excitement about racing, like in the middle of that race. And so I’m super excited to be like registered for that one again this year and the chance to go back and yeah.
Kristen Bonkoski 29:07
So the epic rides races are hands down my favorite races too. I’ve done all of them except for the Oz trails. And for anybody who’s listening, I think they’re like, just the coolest experience because on Saturday, or like Friday, they usually do a short track race for the pros. And then Saturday, all the amateurs race, you get to go out and do your race. And then on Sundays, the pros do their cross country race. And it’s like a full weekend. It’s super inclusive of everybody from like, first time racer to a professional racer. And it’s just, I think, a really unusual, very cool environment.
Abigail Snyder 29:45
Right? And so like, if you’re an amateur and you do the 50 mile course cuz I think they have a couple different like distances you can choose from, but if you do the 50 mile course, that’s the exact same course that would be right as the pros, right which is also kind of cool because I know it Last last time in 2019. Like, I went out with a couple of the other pros, and we were like pre writing parts of the course on Saturday. Yeah, what was really, really fun is like, we would roll up on some of these amateur racers out there and get to cheer them on. And it was just totally fun to be the ones who were like, cheering other people on and getting, like, completely stoked to see people like, Oh, yeah, you’ve got this like, and like through like a rocky section or something like that. And I think it’s, it’s fun for everybody, because it’s just this huge bike party for a whole weekend. Totally. Yeah, you say my thing about Saturday, and the pros going out racing and actually remember one year at whiskey off road. And Todd Wells was out there cheering for everybody. And that was just a really cool experience.
Kristen Bonkoski 30:44
So what for 2021? What are your goals?
Abigail Snyder 30:48
So I’m moving a little bit more into kind of the marathon distance, the long distance races. So I have registered for four of the new events. So it’s, I think it’s like the national ultra endurance series for about a month. And so I registered for four of those. And that’s a totally new thing for me. I’ve obviously done a couple of those epic rides, 50 mile races, but this is kind of moving into the 100k distance, so 62 ish, miles, and Mohican is the first one, and that’s coming up. And that’s here in Ohio. So relatively local, in the beginning of June, and then I’m doing a couple that will be in like Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, throughout the rest of the summer and fall. And so really excited to kind of be challenged by that, cuz I know they’re not going to be easy, but also just kind of see how I perform with that longer distance. But yeah, really hoping to do do well with those. And you know, not to be to performance, or, you know, performance or outcome oriented, but I’d really like to be able to like lace for the series. And if I do for races, then they kind of compiler points for the whole series. So I’d like to, you know, just kind of see how that all plays out.
Kristen Bonkoski 32:04
So what about the next five years? Where do you see yourself going? And how long do you see yourself doing this?
Abigail Snyder 32:10
It’s a really good question. As far as where I’m going, I’m actually to, I’m moving to Roanoke, Virginia, at the end of the school year, so here in just two weeks, really. And really, the big purpose for that is so that I can train more often and, and have better access to training. Because for the last couple of years from where I live in Fort Wayne, in order to get like, longer distance mountain bike rides in where I’m not just repeating the same eight or 10 miles over and over, and over and over. I’ve been driving like six to seven hours round trip every Sunday. And so that’s huge. Yeah. And so moving to Virginia will allow me like the access to the volume of trails without all the driving. So I, since I’m moving across the country to do this, I’m obviously invested into it. And definitely hope to, you know, continue doing this, I would say probably at least the next five years. That being said, you know, you never know the future. So I can’t imagine the future without a mountain bike in it. I love the woods. I love the trails, I love the bikes. But yeah, I’m just out there doing my best and kind of seeing where it takes me.
Kristen Bonkoski 33:20
I’m switching gears just a little bit, because you mentioned that you work in a bike shop, which is somewhat unusual. Like I feel like a lot of times you walk into a bike shop and there are no women working in there. What has your experience been being a female working in such a male dominated industry?
Abigail Snyder 33:38
I feel like my experience really has been very, very positive. As far as like my co workers have always been very, very, you know, accepting and welcoming and willing to teach. Because when I started, I guess Wow, it’s been almost eight years ago, when I first started working in the bike shop, I knew nothing, like I really knew nothing about bicycles. And so, you know, it was a process where they were teaching me like, here’s the difference between you know, aluminum road bike and a carbon road bike. And, you know, even I, you know, as its progressed, like I’ve gotten to know the different makes and models of bikes and you know, what their purposes are for and you know, why they’re different, how they’re different. But then I’ve also you know, as I’ve progressed, they’re like started to learn to do some of my own mechanic work thanks to the mechanics working in the bike shop. But I really think the best part is like, I just love seeing people like get excited about cycling at any level. So like when, you know a couple comes in or a family comes in or you know anyone I love to like greet them and be like, yeah, let’s find you a bike that meets your needs. So maybe that’s a townie cruiser bike for like chillin down the Greenway and go into guy’s room with your family. You know, maybe you do want to get into racing, maybe triathlons, your thing maybe you’re trying not biking for the first time and like, really like helping people learn Learn about the bikes and find the right bikes for them. Like I’ve always found that really, really fun and exciting. Like that’s, that’s why I work at the bike shop, because I think that that is so much fun to get people like, involved and engaged in that sport and that community at whatever level is for them. And that’s totally, totally cool. That being said,there’s definitely beenencounters where people are like,you can’t help me You don’t know anything about mountain bikes, which my manager always finds really, really entertaining. Because like he, of course, knows that I’m racing professionally. But it tends to be Yeah, guys who come in and just make the assumption that because I’m a girl, I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I usually find such experiences like few and far between. And I’ve always taken them kind of with a just a really good sense of humor, because it is so ironic, like, Yeah, actually, she does, you know, my manager will say, Yeah, she makes us professionally, like, I’m never one to like, I’m not going to tell a customer that unless it’s Yeah, event, which most of the time, it’s not.
Because my job is not to be intimidating. My job is to be welcoming. But yeah, it’s, I’ve had that a few times, it’s few and far between most of the time, it’s really just been a really good experience.
Kristen Bonkoski 36:24
So sort of on the flip side of that, I often hear from women who are brand new to biking or they just don’t know a lot about the mechanics of a bike, and they really do feel intimidated walking into a bike shop. What advice would you have for those women?
Abigail Snyder 36:40
I would say that it’s okay to not know, like, those of us working at the shop really are there to help you understand. And we don’t expect you to know everything coming in. Like I said, I was an employee, and I didn’t know everything. I still don’t know everything. Like there’s a lot of days where, you know, a customer will ask the question, I’ll be like, you know what, I’m not sure. Let me check on that. And I’ll go ask someone who does know, or I’ll go look it up, whatever it might be. So it’s okay to go in and ask questions like we, as bike shop employees, there are really there to help wherever you’re coming from. And we’re happy to do that. If there’s ever a bike shop employee who doesn’t have that attitude, then they should maybe find a new job. That’s just Yeah, yeah.
Kristen Bonkoski 37:26
Agree. Walk out and find a different bike shop or find a different employee.
Abigail Snyder 37:30
Kristen Bonkoski 37:32
And so I’ve got three final questions. But before that, do you have any sponsors, you’d like to give a shout out to you? And also, if people would like to connect with you online? Where can they do that?
Abigail Snyder 37:44
As far as connecting with me, I’m on both Instagram and Facebook. Admittedly, I mostly use Facebook to share said Instagram posts, so primarily on Instagram. And that’s Abigail underscore 613. And then on Facebook, it’s Abigail Snyder. And my last name is sny Dr. On on Facebook, and that’s Strava as well. So if you want to follow and kind of see what rides I’m doing, I post everything. You know, all my training rides are on there, all my races are on there, everything’s there. And sponsor wise. My primary sponsor at this point is my team, Ronan Vela sport when I’m racing for this year. And then, like I mentioned earlier, I do work with Osmo, hydration. And then I work kind of as an ambassador with specialized bicycles and Garmin, and amp human as well.
Kristen Bonkoski 38:42
Very good. And and I’ll make sure to include all those links in the show notes too, for anybody who’s interested. And so final three questions. The first one is what bike or bikes Do you ride?
Abigail Snyder 38:54
That’s a long list. But as I said, I’m an ambassador for specialized bicycles. And they brought me on this year probably because I have so many. So my race bikes are a specialized, epic, full suspension. And then I also have their their specialized, epic hardtail. So I’ve got both of their cross country, mountain bikes, and I kind of decide which one I’m racing based on the terrain of the course. So the rockier chunkier courses, I tend to pick the the full suspension and then if it’s a smoother, more traditional Midwest mountain bike race, or if there’s a lot of like, Forest Road gravel road mixed in, then I’ll pick the hard tail. And then I also have a specialized diverged gravel bike, which I got just over a year ago and absolutely love. I write it all the time. And then, let me think I’ve got a specialized Allez that sits on my trainer, one of their aluminum road bikes, and I’ve got to spend So I stumpjumper that I use primarily just for like skills, practice and training. Although, eventually maybe I’d like to try an enduro racer too. I’m kind of scared by that. But I’m also kind of curious. So we’ll see. That’s my actually my summer goal to do my first enduro. Yeah, I’m just afraid of the consequences of hurting myself and not being able to race cross country. Yeah, that is a big No, that’s kind of that’s kind of my only thing. But I’d still like to try one. So we’ll see. I’m moving to Virginia, there should be way more opportunity for that. We’ll see what happens.
Kristen Bonkoski 40:32
Next question is what is your favorite place you’ve ever biked?
Abigail Snyder 40:43
I’m going to say,What am I going to say? Oh, so hard. Wow. I’m going to say I’m going to go with one of the trips that we made last summer. My boyfriend and I went out to Rapid City and Custer area in South Dakota. So hills area, and mountain bike wise, we only rode mountain bikes one day, and we wrote it m Hill and Rapid City. And on that exact day, I was not having my best day probably wasn’t like, my favorite day at the moment. But looking back on it, I keep remembering that trip. And being like that was just such an awesome ride. I love that ride. And then we spent like two or three other days doing like road and gravel rides and rode through like Custer State Park, I believe it is. And there’s like a herd of bison and we just like rode past them. And it was like the coolest thing I’ve ever done. And getting to ride like up past like, the different national monuments and some of those things as well. It’s just like a really cool week of riding and not all mountain biking. In fact, mostly not mountain biking, but just gorgeous area.
Kristen Bonkoski 41:55
Did you ride part of the Mickelson trail while you were there, too?
Abigail Snyder 41:58
We did. Yeah, yeah. That was one of our like recovery days from one of the other hard drives that we had done. And yeah, I just took the gravel bikes out and rode, like it was awesome. Loved it. beautiful spot.
Kristen Bonkoski 42:11
Last question is, what do you love most about biking?
Abigail Snyder 42:19
I think what I love most is like, just the sense of freedom that it gives. And that’s not just mountain biking, that could be riding a single speed commuting to work or the few times that I’ve gotten to ride like an E bike around or riding a road bike or gravel bike, or you know, mountain bikes, on the trails, whatever it is, I just feel like it’s almost like you’re flying. And I don’t even have to be going fast to get that that sensation. But it’s just this like, I don’t know, this freedom that you have that is beyond what you can get like walking or running. And with that comes just like this incredible sense of joy that I just love riding bikes. In fact, I use the hashtag a lot like, ride bikes be happy, because I legitimately feel that like riding bikes brings me joy.