American cyclist, Mara Abbott started her career in cycling as a collegiate athlete and hasnt looked back since. Her first event on two wheels was a 24-hour mountain bike race in Moab where she raced in a dyed tank top and flat pedals. She came out of that race inspired and ready to learn more about riding. After collegiate success, Mara turned Pro in 2006 and won the Elite National Championships road title the very next year. 2010 was a remarkable year for Mara as she earned the distinction of being the first American woman to win the Giro Donne. And most recently Mara was awarded USA Cyclings Athlete of the Year award.
Congratulations on your USA Cycling Athletes of the Year award what does this honor mean to you?
It is exciting to be able to represent US cycling… I hadn’t realized what an honor the award was until I went to the induction ceremony and was able to see how much the Hall of Fame meant to so many people and hear the stories of the actual inductees. To be included in the same ceremony as people who have such longevity in the sport shows a lot of support for my future and is a huge compliment and vote of confidence in my future. It was very special to be able to attend the ceremony.
What was it like to be the first American to win the Giro Donne? Tell us about that experience:
It was especially exciting to be the “first American” this year because since I was racing with the National team it was an honor that we could all share. Winning the Giro was a huge experience. My coach, Dean Golich, has always spoken about how large the gap is between first and second. The amount of pressure involved with the responsibility of carrying the jersey is definitely something you can’t explain, but rather must experience. As terrifying as it was, I am so happy to have that experience inside of me, and to be able to look back on that strength for the rest of my career.
What are you most looking forward to about joining the team Safi-Pasta Zara-Manhattan?
I am looking forward to being able to further develop my skills as a leader and to have a stable program that I can trust to support me fully. I am excited to meet a new group of people in the sport with whom I can collaborate to achieve great things!
What are some of your goals for 2011?
I am definitely focused on the Giro again for next year. The calendars are all starting to be set now, so I will be able to figure out my schedule soon and then I can plan more from there!
We hear yoga is an important part of your life how long have you been practicing and how has your cycling benefited from your practice?
I have been practicing regularly for about 3 or 4 years. I think that the physical aspects of yoga make me stronger, healthier and more sustainable as a rider. Mentally it has taught me greater equanimity, balance and patience… without which I think that might have cracked myself by now.
To learn more about Mara Abbott and to follow her 2011 season visit: marakatherine.com