BALTIMORE, Maryland (VN) — Georgia Gould doesn’t need much introduction. A bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games mountain bike race, she has been at the top of off-road racing for over a decade, winning multiple mountain bike national titles, as well as scores of races and series in mountain biking and cyclocross.
In June, Gould gave birth to a daughter, Quinn. Now, she has returned to racing, taking baby steps back into the cyclocross scene.
VeloNews caught up with Gould at the U.S. Cup-CX/Charm City Cross where she started at the back of the field and worked her way to 17th Saturday and 11th Sunday.
VeloNews: First, tell us about motherhood.
Georgia Gould: It’s a lot, it’s overwhelming, it’s very cool. I’ve been having such a good time with her; it seems like every day there’s something new, just leaps and bounds. To see everything from the perspective of someone who’s never seen anything is awesome. The first time she was awake in the grocery store, just looking around, like, ‘Oh, that’s a lot of cabbages! Different colors!’ You realize all the stuff that we filter out. You just adjust your perspective. I’ve had a really good time. Sure, you don’t sleep the first little bit there. I think, ‘Oh, I think I’m recovered from that,’ and then I’ll put cereal back in the fridge. ‘Whoa, I’m clearly not all there!’ All my energy is going toward keeping this person safe and fed and healthy and then everything else kind of falls apart a little bit. But so far so good.
VN: Was it always your intention to return to racing this cyclocross season?
GG: I always knew I was going to race again, but I didn’t know what that was going to look like because I’m not sure there is a market for, like, new moms, ‘We want to pay you a lot of money to race your bike even though you’ll probably be at the back of the field!” If there is, please feel free to contact me! You can find all my contact info through VeloNews.[Laughs]
I knew I would come back to racing in some capacity, I just figured it would be kind of a weekend-warrior type of scenario. Which is fine, because I love racing — I’ll always do it in some form or another. But I didn’t put a timeline on that because there’s just so much stuff that can happen. I wanted to make sure that my baby was my focus, especially during those first few months. I felt totally okay to put racing and training fully on the back burner, and I’m glad that I did. And it’s also been fun to come back without any expectation and almost start all over again. Called up in the back, I’ve got one bike — I don’t even have a pit bike, just one set of wheels that I always forget to pick up after the race. Back to my roots!
VN: What’s it like to be the mother of a four-month-old on race day?
GG: It’s a whole different pre-race routine. ‘Okay, I’m going to pre-ride, and then I’m going to feed the baby, and …’ What’s nice for me is that, since I haven’t been training — I’ve been riding a little bit but not what I would consider training to be ready for a race — I don’t have an expectation going into race day. It’s, ‘Hopefully I can pre-ride! But who knows! I might not be able to, and that’s fine too.’ It almost fits in perfectly with being a new mom. I’ve found you kind of have to have a plan, but be flexible. There’s a balance between trying to have fixed habits and be flexible so you aren’t just like a robot. Your baby isn’t a robot so you’re going to have to give and take a little bit. At this point in my life, it’s about going with the flow.
VN: You won a bronze medal at the Olympics. Now you’re starting at the back of the field in local ’cross races. Is that at all strange or disappointing to you?
GG: No, not at all. Again, if I’d been training and felt like I deserved to be at the front of the race, then, yeah, that would be disappointing to be in the back. But I think it depends on the perspective that you have. When I decided to jump into a few races, I did it knowing it was going to be really hard — I hadn’t done any race efforts, you know. ‘Knowing all that and that I’m going to be in the back, do I still want to race? Do I still like racing for the sake of racing? Or do I really just care about winning races?’
The season after the Olympics I had my worst season ever. After a couple rough seasons, I had to have that talk with myself anyways. ‘Do I want to retire because I’m sucking in the races? Or do I keep going and, even though I’m not doing as well as I’d like, is there still something there?’ I realize that I do like racing for racing’s sake. I think that made this a lot easier for me. You have to earn to get up to the front. You have to earn it every time. It’s not like once you win a race you belong up there. No, you have to earn it every single race — again, anew.
I’m happy to sort of start that process over, and of course, it’s in a different way because I’m not getting paid to train and race my bike. But I love it. People are still racing in the back. It’s still a challenge. That’s sort of what I wanted to do. I missed that. It’s funny, the very first race I did was just a local race in Colorado. Earlier that morning I was folding up laundry and the baby was there, and it was ‘Oh man, I’m racing later!’ And I got butterflies. I mean full-on, ‘I’m racing, oh my god!’ Seriously? I haven’t even prepared for this. ‘Oh my gosh, how’s it going to go?’ I think that’s how you know that you still want to race. For me, it’s not really about the results.
VN: Have you begun to daydream about the time when you can take Quinn out for her first bike ride?
GG: Well, yes it’s already been so much fun. We have a little bike trailer and just going out and cruising around on the bike path. There’s a little screen that comes down and I didn’t put it down, it was a little wet out that day, and we get back and there’s like dirt all over her and bugs in her hair! [laughs] Ooh, not the mom of the year! But doing anything with her is so much fun because it’s the first time. ‘Look, this is an apple!’ So, of course, it will be so much fun to teach her how to ride a bike or a motorcycle and start over again from her perspective. That will be really cool.