Georgia Gould has been a force to be reckoned with in
cross-country racing since her first National Championship
in 2006. This past season proved to be a bit of a roller-coaster ride for her. From the lows of two near misses at World
Cups, including possibly the most heartbreaking flat tire we’ve
ever seen, to the highs of her fifth National Championship and
bronze medals at both the UCI World Championships and the
Olympic Games in London, Georgia has had quite a run. We
caught up with Georgia to make sense of it all during her seemingly nonexistent off-season, which is packed with racing—and
winning—national-level cyclocross events.
When was the first time you rode
a mountain bike?
I moved out to Sun Valley, Idaho, in
1999. That was the summer after my
first year of college. That’s where I discovered mountain biking.
How did you decide to enter your
first mountain bike race?
I had been riding a lot with my
boyfriend, who’s my husband now.
There was a local race, and I just
wanted to try. I ended up entering the beginner race and won. So then I
upgraded and won the first Sport race.
Then I upgraded to Expert. I raced
Expert for a year or so regionally, and
then did a couple national-level races. I
did pretty well, so I decided that I didn’t want to be looking back on that
time of my life and wondering what
would’ve happened if I had tried to
I decided that if I was really going to
do this, I should get a coach and take it
seriously. I did that and raced the
entire National series that year. I found
myself getting top 10 finishes, and at
the end of that season, Team Luna
Chix got in touch and offered me a
spot on the team.
Was there added pressure racing
for the biggest team in women’s
They were very clear that I was coming on as a developmental rider and
said they weren’t expecting me to win
races. That being said, the Luna Chix
Team is the best women’s team in the
world, so I just didn’t want to screw it
up! The team, both the riders and staff, were super supportive. I wouldn’t
say that there was any more pressure
from anyone else than I was putting on
Did joining the Luna Chix team
change your training, traveling or
lifestyle in general?
Not really at first. I wasn’t racing the
World Cups that first year. They want-
ed me to focus on the National series and not spread myself too thin, which
was great and was exactly what I needed to do.
So after focusing on the National
series, I ended up winning the
National Championship that year. It
was the only race I won! [Laughs.] But
I guess they say if you are only going to
win one race, that’s the one!
I continued to improve, and with
another season under my belt, I had a
very strong 2007. I won all the
National series races, got second at
Nationals and had some podiums at
Your first National Championship
in 2006 was a surprise result at the
time. Lining up for that race, did
you think you could win? Or was
that win as surprising to you as it
was to others?
I had never won a national-level race
before. I had never even been on the
podium! It wasn’t that I didn’t think I
could win. It was something that I
hoped that on my best day I could do.
Coming into it, I thought a top five
would be amazing; I didn’t have the
pressure of thinking that I needed to,
or really could, win it.
The reason it was even more surprising to me was because I wasn’t feeling
especially good that day. I was trying
just as hard as I always had, except I
was winning this time. That was a
really important thing for me to realize.
Before then, I just thought all of those
people winning races must be trying
twice as hard and digging twice as deep
as I was.
So fast-forwarding to this past
season, you laid out some specific
goals you wanted to achieve in
2012: defend your National title,
win a World Cup, medal at World
Championships and go to the
Olympics. Could you pinpoint any
one of these goals as the most
important to you in the big picture?
The type of racer that I am, I usually
don’t put all my eggs in one basket.
But, obviously, the Olympics were a
huge goal. Some people do well focusing on one specific thing, but for me,
it’s too much pressure. What happens
if you flat? Or you crash? Or you get
sick that day? I just like to try to be
consistent over the entire season.
Coming into an Olympic year
with big goals, did you change anything about your training, race
schedule or lifestyle to prepare?
No. It’s really tempting to try,
though. It’s the Olympics, so you’re
thinking, ‘What can I change to get
that extra percentage or be more
focused?’ But, I stepped back and realized that would be the completely
wrong approach. ‘Everything is going
well, and I’m going to change it before
the biggest race?’ What’s been working
for me in the past is what’s going to
continue to work for me. It was more
about refining what I had already been
You’ve landed on plenty of World
Cup podiums and have been one of
the most consistent racers overall,
but it seems that the one thing that
has eluded you is a World Cup win.
After a near miss in Mont-Sainte-Anne, getting caught by Catharine
Pendrel on the last lap, the next
World Cup round in Windham,
New York, you appear to be on a
mission. You’re set for the win
when you puncture on the last
lap and get passed by two team-
mates, Catharine Pendrel and
Katerina Nash, on the final
straight. We feel that your teammates would’ve been bigger champions if they had sat up in those
final meters. How do you weigh
in on that situation?
There was no perfect way to end
that race. What are the chances that
it comes down to 15 meters from the
finish getting passed, and by your
teammates? Catherine was going to
sit up, and she was yelling, ‘Come
on!’ She didn’t really know what to
do, but I was thinking, ‘Absolutely
not. This is a race, and I will not
have my first World Cup win because
you gave it to me.’ That’s not how I
want to win at all. I’m 100 percent
sure of that.
I think Katerina really understood
that it was a race, and it was awful,
but anything other than sprinting
would have made things worse than
they already were. I really appreciated that. I didn’t want to feel like I
had an asterisk next to my win
because my really nice teammates sat
up. I think it ended the best way that
it could have. I want to earn my win.
If the roles were reversed and
you were one of the chasing riders, would you have done the
It’s hard. I know for me, I would
rather have a race be raced all the
way to the finish. Bad luck is part of
racing. If I got a flat tire on the first
lap, I wouldn’t expect my teammates to
wait up for me. The weirdness of it is
more the timing of when it happened,
that I almost rode it in. If there hadn’t
been that one little hill that I had to get
off and run, I would’ve made it. But, I
don’t know, I’m not as concerned with
that race as everyone else seems to be.
You won your fifth National
Championship this year, your
fourth in cross-country. Having
won the two previous National
titles and racing primarily World
Cup events this year, did you feel
confident that you could defend
your title coming into the race?
I definitely had more confidence, but
at the same time way more pressure,
because it’s not really news when I
win a cross-country race in the U.S.
anymore. It’s only news if I don’t!
When you get to the point where you
have won a bunch of races and you’re
a favorite, that’s a lot more pressure
than on someone who has never won a
I had been racing the same people
who were there all season long and
consistently beating them, but at the
same time, I know what happened the
day I won my first National
Championship, so I never come into a
race like, ‘Oh yeah, no problem! Just
another day at the office!’ I never
count anybody out, and I know that
especially at those big, one-day races,
anybody could have ‘the day’ that day.
What does it mean to you to
wear the stars and stripes throughout the year?
It’s a huge honor. No matter how
many times I’ve won the National
Championships, being able to wear the
jersey is really cool, and it doesn’t get
old. Every time it’s special.
Despite some difficult World Cup
races, you came out strong in the
World Championships and won the
bronze medal, achieving another
one of your goals. After your two
near misses, was it a bit redeeming
for you to get that result?
I had been on the podium in some
World Cup races, but I was definitely
pleased with getting bronze at Worlds,
because I felt like I didn’t have the
ideal preparation for that race; I wasn’t
feeling awesome on that day.
I’m very proud of that, but if anything, it sort of made me hungrier for
World Cups and the Worlds next year.
It was sort of the same as the first year
I won a National Championship; you
get a little glimpse of what you’re capable of.
Back in 2008, you represented
the United States in Beijing and finished eighth. How did making your
second Olympic team feel compared
to the first time around?
The first time around, I didn’t know
how cool the Olympics were. Of course
it was still a great honor to represent
my country, but once I got to Beijing, I
thought, ‘Oh man, I am so glad I didn’t
know how cool this was. I would’ve
been way more concerned with qualifying!’ So having already been, I was
much more stressed out to make the
team for London.
How does the Olympic experience
differ from a normal World Cup
Nobody is training through the
Olympics. At World Cups or Worlds,
people can say, ‘This isn’t my focus’ or
‘That’s not my goal.’ If you’re going to
the Olympics, that’s your goal.
How does being an Olympic
medalist differ from being a World
Well, nobody outside cycling really
cares about World Championships—or
pretty much any other race that I’ve
ever done. [Laughs.] The Olympics are
something that no matter how little
someone knows about your sport, they
know that if you won a medal at the
Olympics, you must be good.
I’ve finished third in a lot of races,
but for some reason, third place at the
Olympics is a much bigger deal. When I
took my medal to the welcome home
thing they had for me and let the kids
hold it—it’s not every kid, but some get
this spark. To see how much it really
impacts and inspires people to try
mountain biking, or try any sport,
that’s really what I’m most proud of.
While you’ve been racking up
results for years, your performance
in 2012 really put you in the spot-
light. Where do you see yourself in
the timeline of your career?
There were people that asked me if I
was going to retire after I got my
bronze medal, and I was like, ‘You do
know I didn’t win that race, right?’ For
me, my results at the Olympics and
Worlds motivated me for next year.
I wouldn’t say that I have a lot of
years left racing, because there are
other things that I would like to do, like
have a family, and I don’t think that’s
sustainable being a World Cup racer
who’s based in North America. But,
I’m still chasing that World Cup win.
I’m not greedy. I don’t need to win all
of them, but one would be nice!
Do you hope to compete for a
spot in your third Olympic Games?
Yeah, it’s kind of exhausting to think
about planning that right now, because
I haven’t really had an off-season after
these Olympics. I don’t plan that far
out. I go month by month. I’m not
going to keep doing it if all of a sudden
I’m miserable and not having any fun.
That’s not the recipe for success. It’s a
long time away, but yeah, if I’m still rid-
ing well and I’m still competitive, then
What are your goals for the 2013
For 2013, I would like to win a
World Cup! [Laughs.] Then, sort of the
same goals I have every year: medal at
Worlds and defend my National
Championship. That’s never a side note
sort of thing; it’s always a big goal.