Culture

Day in the life: Ruth Winder

Checking in with road national champion Ruth Winder in between shifts in her kitchen and before her Everesting attempt.

For the past two months, we have reached out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to get a glimpse into their lives during the shutdown in our Day in the Life series. Now, with a potential race season on the horizon, we’re asking about their fitness and forward planning.

It’s cake week for #winderbaked subscribers, but so far, only half of them have gotten their delivery of greek yogurt-based raspberry cake. The other half will have to wait until later in the week when head baker — and road national champion — Ruth Winder has completed her Everesting attempt of Flagstaff Road in Boulder, Colorado.

The coronavirus shutdown has inspired cyclists to complete all sorts of crazy challenges and take up new hobbies. For Winder, it’s allowed her to revisit a longstanding passion – baking – and to enjoy a period of ‘self-coaching,’ that has included tempo rides, mountain bike rides, and baked good delivery rides. In general, Winder never rides her bike more than four hours at a time, and her longest ride was probably only six and a half hours.

Today, all of that will change. We wish Winder the best on her Everesting attempt, but we really wish that we were on the list for some of that raspberry cake.

Location: Boulder, Colorado

What does your new racing schedule look like?
It still looks a little up in the air. With the UCI schedule they released the first race was Strade. I haven’t yet talked to my sport director about my specific schedule. I assume it would be most of the same races I would be doing but they’re just much closer together. It would start with Strade.

What race are you most excited to do once the season starts again?
That’s such an odd question. I feel like I’m just excited for any of them. For me the Ardennes are a really good week, but it feels odd to be excited for anyone specific race.

day in the life
Can’t sell a scone without trying it yourself.

What’s your opinion on the tentative plans to bring racing back?
Right now I have a hard time really truly believing in it. I don’t see how protocols will be taken seriously, or what will have changed in two months from now. I’m just waiting for the people with the brains on the matter to see if there’s a safe way to going about doing it.

To be doing a two week quarantine in one country and then another quarantine in another country seems crazy. It’s a little bit worrying that you’d get over to Europe and then it would be the never-ending two week quarantine around Europe. It’s a concern, but it’s nice to have some hope that it could go on.

What part of your fitness is missing right now?
Well, I just took a week off to prepare for Everesting. I’ve been enjoying the sunshine; it’s been really pretty in Colorado the past few weeks. I have a lot of base, done a lot of tempo work. I just haven’t been motivated to push myself to my limit. From my experience, the top end comes back pretty quickly. It goes pretty quickly, too, but I’m sure I can get it back.

What are your expectations for those first few races back?
I expect that the peloton will just be super eager. Maybe it will even have a world champs feel where the start is really nervous – everyone wants to be there and do well and take every opportunity they can. It makes for a nervous bunch. I’m sure people will be nervous to race and compete and get results and also nervous to be back on the bike and see what their fitness is.

How has your experience over the past few months shaped your worldview or perspective on pro cycling?
I’ve always been pretty lucky, or maybe that’s not the right way to put it: I’ve always had a good sense of balance in terms of being a pro athlete. Living with my boyfriend and having so many friends here, I think I have a good, healthy, balanced lifestyle. I really enjoy being home and that’s been really great.

Winder and her boyfriend, not taking training too seriously.

What has been the silver lining for you?
Really getting to spend a lot of time at home with my boyfriend and dog. Part of me has always wondered if I just love being home. Some people in the off-season love to get back to racing. I think I miss the racing but sometimes not all the travel. I wondered if after this, I would still feel the same, that I missed racing but not all the travel, and it turns out that I just really love my boyfriend and my dog and my friends and where I live.

We’d be remiss not to talk about the baking. Have you always been such a prolific baker?
Yea. Particularly I’ve always made my own sourdough for the last 5 years. I’ve had the same starter since I started. It was very exciting when my boyfriend and I moved in together after the Rio Olympics and had our own apartment, own kitchen, own stuff. When you’re a cyclist, you never really have your own kitchen or your own space, so I really got into it then.

Now you have a full-fledged delivery business. How did that happen?
I was baking and home a lot and taking things to friends anyway. Then I’d post on Instagram and get like 15 messages asking if they could get something. So I was basically like, anyone that wants to get a baked good on their doorstep every week in May, let me know. I’ve limited myself to 30 deliveries a week so I can’t get too carried away. I made 200 scones last week. It’s cakes this week. Everyone gets a quarter of a cake. 

The favorites have been the blueberry ricotta hand pies and the custard creme biscuits so far.

day in the life
Winder’s blueberry ricotta hand pies were a hit with #winderbaked subscribers.

How will you balance baking with a return to training?
I think I have been kind of casually training, riding how I want for the last couple of weeks. But, if racing is to happen on August 1 then I need to be prepared for that. That’s the only problem with my #winderbaked by bike goods — if I’ve done a hard interval workout then I’ll be too tired to make the deliveries.