In our latest Q&A feature in collaboration with Voxwomen, we talk with American rider Lauren Stephens, a former mathematics teacher whose path has taken her to riding in the pro peloton with Team Tibco Silicon Valley Bank, a squad she’s been with since 2013.
Where are you from?
I’m from Mesquite, Texas.
Where do you live now?
I live in Dallas, Texas.
How did you get started in cycling?
My first road bike actually came from my sister. She had started cycling but never really got into it, I started using her bike to commute to a summer job where I coached kids at a city summer track and field program.
At what point did you realize that cycling was more than a hobby?
I considered cycling a hobby for quite a while.
The brief timeline is:
• 2007- I started cycling.
• 2008- Met my now husband, Mat, at a local bike shop who along with a few close friends introduced me to the world of racing.
• 2009- Did my first race.
• 2009-2013– I was on a team based out of Dallas that has since merged with the DNA Cycling Team.
• 2013- Joined Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank.
2013 was definitely when cycling changed from a hobby to a career. Before that I had no idea it was even an option to be a career. I finished college in December 2010 and began teaching high school math a few weeks later. At that point I didn’t think I would continue to race. I thought it would just be something I did for exercise. But I continued to race and eventually figured out how to find time to work and train. In April of 2013 I won a national level criterium and then a couple weeks later was third at a national level stage race. I guess I figured out the work/ training balance and luckily soon after that I was offered a contract to race professionally and haven’t looked back since.
What’s your most cherished memory in your sporting career to date?
Winning Winston Salem in 2017 is my most cherished moment in cycling. Part way through the race I told the team on the radio this race is too easy. I need a harder race to be able to win. I asked them to start attacking. Before the words were out of my mouth the first attack from my team went. Eventually it led to a strong breakaway with one of my riders. The break was brought back with just over a lap to go in the circuit. I went into a break with only a few kilometers to go and managed to ride away solo in the final kilometer or two. It was a day where every teammate contributed to the result. It really showed how much the team believed in me and I couldn’t have done it without their commitment.
What are your goals for the Olympics?
My goal for the Olympics is to be the best I can be on that day. I always strive to do my best. I know it sounds simple but it’s what drives me.
What will your training look like as the Games approach?
My training as I prepare for the Olympic Games will hopefully be at home. We have hot summers in Texas that should be great prep for the Games!
Which athletes inspire you?
I can’t say I have a specific athlete that inspires me. Often the drive and dedication of my teammates inspires me. Sometimes they believe in me more than I believe in myself which gives me that extra 1 percent you need to win.
What keeps you motivated during difficult times?
I always strive to be the best I can be each day. For sure I have moments where I lack motivation. The way I push through is thinking about all the hard work I’ve put in. My desire to make my work “worth it” motivates me.
Advice for younger riders striving for the Olympics?
Work hard every day and love what you do. Some days will be hard but that’s what makes you better.
If you weren’t a pro rider, what would you be doing now?
I’d probably still be teaching high school. But who knows.
Favorite coffee ride snack?
I always choose a brownie or a nice chocolate chip cookie.
Favorite coffee ride stop?
Can’t really say I have one. Stopping just a few minutes before home with a group of friends is always nice. But it’s definitely been a while since I’ve done that.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
Hmm… my spirit animal, that’s a good question. I have no idea.
One thing you can’t live without on the road?
I’m not sure if it’s my headphones or my aero press. Two very different things but very necessary while traveling!
For more coverage of women’s cycling, head to voxwomen.com