Illustration: Ryan Perkins
Instead of listening to my slow ass whine about boys and bicycles this month, you have the pleasure of reading my interview with one of Salt Lake’s most badass babes on a bicycle—scratch that—most badass HUMAN pedaling in the Rocky Mountain West: Jessica Gilmore. ’Nuf said.
SLUG: You placed first in the women’s division in Goldsprints at Interbike in Vegas this year, and second overall. You also won the women’s Kopchovsky Cat and you’ve placed in the top five at almost every other alleycat, especially the super gnarly ones ... Anything else I’m missing?
Gilmore: I was first woman in Wolfpack Hustle’s King of Vegas Alleycat this year, and a couple years ago, I was second woman (first fixed!) in the Rad Massaker (annual Bay Area alleycat). It’s fun riding out of state—I’ve found that SLC has trained me pretty well.
SLUG: Though I have my suspicions, I assume you didn’t come out of the womb on a road bike ... How did you get into cycling?
Gilmore: After walking this city for a year, I got a bike to get me there faster. It was a gradual thing: claiming the streets, learning simple bike mechanics, building muscle and endurance. My first road bike was pretty lousy, but I soon met Davey Davis, a local bike enthusiast, who helped me get on a better one. I think having a bike you like is key.
SLUG: You’re really fast: faster than most of the guys in the urban bicycle community. In their words, what kind of female witch magic are you using to beat them? How do I get some?
Gilmore: Being fast is fun. That’s at least 70 percent of why I keep riding. And chasing/being chased by cute boys on bikes around town is my favorite way to get faster. But seriously, using the super weighted male/female ratio to my advantage, I always have guys to ride with and there’s always someone faster to catch up to. The best way to train is to get out and ride. Every day.
SLUG: You’re a lot nicer than I am about these things, but don’t pretend like there’s not an extra special kind of satisfaction in knowing you’re faster than a bunch of boys ... What does that feel like?
Gilmore: Sometimes being faster than boys or passing them on the streets seems to set off a really competitive alarm, but with a playful, friendly attitude, I can usually find respect. It feels good to be treated as an equal on the street—my femaleness is exaggerated in a really positive way.
SLUG: Do you have any advice for girls who want to get into cycling and are intimidated? Is that something that you had to get over?
Gilmore: My advice would be to drop high expectations, especially of yourself. Don’t get on a bike and expect to get up to the U without breaking a sweat. I’m still out of breath every day. Give yourself time to build up strength and confidence. Ignore the intimidating boys in the shops or on the streets, they’re just nerds. Be confident but willing to learn from them.
There you have it, folks. If you ever find the energy to catch up to this speed demon, say hello—she’s friendly enough to slow down and return the greeting.