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Mountain bikes may have stolen Brodie Chapman’s heart, but she says her head loves racing on the road.
Relatively unknown in 2018, Chapman racked up a slew of impressive results: first overall in the women’s Herald Sun Tour, fifth at the Tour of California, sixth in the Australian National Championship road race. She then signed with the Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank team.
This year, Chapman won the Tour of the Gila overall plus two stages, and this past Sunday she was first across the line at the inaugural SBT GRVL race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, placing 15th overall in a strong field of professional and amateur men and women. Clearly, her head is in the right place.
“The racing is tactical, the training requires mental compromise and discipline, and the constant progression and high level of competition drive me,” explained the 28-year-old Australian.
Chalk it up to her self-professed free-range childhood. Chapman grew up in the sub-tropical rainforest in the hinterland of Brisbane in what she calls a “cool upcycled tree-housey place.” It was a small community, and kids of all ages spent their free time exploring the bush and playing in trees. Many of Chapman’s favorite memories on bikes before becoming a professional cyclist harken back to her adventurous upbringing.
“Working nine hours a day as a bike courier in Brisbane but loving every minute of it,” she said, ticking off some of those recollections. “Spending a summer at Mt. Buller riding the lift every day. Bikepacking solo through Japan in 2016.”
Although Chapman’s tastes have evolved over time, she still manages to find thrill in whatever type of racing she’s doing. She remembers her first go at nationals in 2016.
“I had no clue at all how road racing really worked and just took all the risks, spent all the energy, and I was buzzing afterwards,” she said.
In Steamboat Springs, where the Colorado Classic kicks off Thursday, Chapman buzzed about gravel. “The American scene is top notch,” she said. “Back home, we have Gran Fondos with gravel sections kind-of like that, but it’s not a race. You don’t get that same field showing up. This was a race of attrition, it’s just like ‘survive!’”
For a new pro, Chapman has her sights set high, and she’s doing everything she can to get there. Tops on that list are a WorldTour podium and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Before SBT GRVL, Chapman raced with her team in the UK, at another inaugural event, the Women’s Tour of Scotland. She praised the event for its meticulous organization, media, crowds, excellent signage, logos, podiums, and a prize purse equal to what a men’s equivalent race would be. Her teammate, Alison Jackson, took the yellow jersey on Day 2 of the race.
For Chapman, the Colorado Classic presents another opportunity to ride toward her goals, and like the Tour of Scotland, to sharpen the focus on women’s professional cycling.
“To me the Colorado Classic signals a new era in women’s cycling, where we are center stage and not a sideshow to a men’s race,” Chapman said. “I love men’s racing. I watch it all the time. But it’s grandiose and the media attention often overshadows ours. I am looking forward to the short sharp courses, the international and top level domestic competition, and for our team to show our versatility and strength.”
This is Chapman’s first visit to Colorado, and in addition to enjoying the hospitality of the American people and the vibe at the race, she said she was looking forward to literally just “staring in awe” at the mountains. But if SBT GRVL is any indication, we know where her head will really be.