We sat down with Cat 4 racer, Anna Affias & talked with her about her experience at the WMRRC! Check out her interview below
WBC: How did you first get into biking? Did you start as a bike commuter?
AA: I started biking one summer because my best friends boyfriend (who worked as a bike mechanic at the time) was trying to win her over by giving us left over bikes from a bike swap. It totally worked and they are now happily married with a kid and two dogs. He is still a brilliant bike mechanic, I still own the bike, and they are still my best friends. Since then, I've accumulated 4 other bikes, bike commute daily, and obviously now, race bikes.
WBC: How'd you get into racing?
AA: I started off competing in triathlons but quickly learned the biking leg was my favorite part of the race. Last winter I hosted a bar-run crawl at my apartment and met a handful of girls who were bike racers. The thought of bike racing had crossed my mind, but I'd never fully committed to the idea. Following a series of extremely difficult life circumstances (and the purchase of a new carbon fiber bike), I decided to try my hand at racing bikes. Turns out bike racing is great therapy and I quickly fell in love with the sport and camaraderie of the community.
WBC: What do you think of the Chicago cycling community?
AA: I love the Chicago cycling community, especially the women. Everyone has been super supportive and encouraging, which has made for a smooth and helpful transition into the sport. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I feel like I've finally found "my people."
WBC: You're apart of the Spidermonkey Cycling team, how did you go about finding them?
AA: Yes! I started racing races unattached (meaning w/out an official team), but knew I wanted to join one. I tried out a few group rides in the city with multiple teams before settling in with my Spidermonkey peeps. It's hard to explain, but as soon as I started riding with the Spidermonkey's, I knew I needed to be one. It was pretty much love at first sight.
WBC: Do you remember your first race? What kind was it and how did you feel?
AA: I remember it like it was yesterday. Luckily my first race was a newbie specific criterium series. I was nervous and knew nothing about racing, but did it anyways! I showed up with my crappy commuter road bike, triathlon attire, and brakes that didn't work. I will be forever grateful for Katie Isermann and PJ Cavoto who not only drove me to the race and calmed my nerves, but also took my bike to the race mechanics who fixed it up within minutes of the race start. Something else I'll never forget was the actual start of the race. I had so many moments of questioning my sanity and wondering what the hell I was getting myself into. Before I knew it, we were off, and much faster than I could have ever imagined. I lost the field (the front/fastest group) within seconds, but nonetheless, finished the race. I didn't do well, but I was hooked. I went back to race two more times week. Each night I learned a little bit more and got progressively better. The last night of the series, I stayed with the field the entire race and finished in the top 10. I was hooked and there was no turning back.
WBC: What is your advice to ladies who are looking to get into cycling (both commuting and racing)?
AA: My best advice is to just get out there. You're never going to learn if you don't start! Start asking questions and going on group rides. Find people who inspire you and learn what kind of cycling you're into. Even if bike racing isn't for you, getting on a bike can and will change your life. There's room every kind of cyclist in the Chicago cycling community. Let's ride bikes and be friends!