In 2007, Katie Compton became the first American woman to podium in the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Belgium. This weekend, Compton, now 41, finished 4th in another world championships in Switzerland, behind three cyclists from The Netherlands: Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (1st), Annemarie Worst (2nd), and Lucinda Brand (3rd).
While watching the men’s race on Sunday, Bicycling caught up with Compton to ask about what the future holds for her in bike racing, what USA cycling can do for younger female riders in order to beat Europe, and our other burning questions, like bike set up and favorite breed of dog.
Bicycling: Looking ahead to 2021, what does the future hold?
Katie Compton: I’m definitely going to race next year, but I’m looking toward Fayetteville as the end. I haven’t made a decision yet and I still need to work out some stuff, making sure the contracts and sponsors are all behind it, but I like racing my bike.
I want to keep going. I’m definitely going to race more in Europe again, and then see how it goes. I don’t have any definitive end point or definitive race schedule but I will be racing next year.
The U19 race category for women here was huge, and I noticed there was a very strong representation from USA Cycling. How do you feel about the future of U19 – U23 riders?
It’s awesome to see. USA Cycling, with the , has definitely increased the support, monetarily as well as equipment-wise and with rider support on the ground.
We need that development. We need opportunities for the young women to get over here to race, and also more support of domestic racing. More coaching support, more training support, all of it. The more money and support they have, the more opportunities and experience they can get riding their bike and racing. If we want to be competitive with European countries it’s got to start sooner.
Let’s talk about your bike set up. After doing this for so long, is it totally dialed in?
My equipment is dialed in from the beginning of the season. Everything’s the same. And I run the same equipment from year to year to year.
I ride a double-chain ring setup so I don’t have to switch the chain ring for gearing. Everything’s been similar—Shimano drive train, Knight wheels, Trek bikes, etc. The consistency from year to year to year makes it super easy and super smooth.
That’s a nice paint job on the bike you were riding yesterday.
Probably the only thing that changes with Trek is my paint. It’s changed through the years, which is pretty fun.
Do you provide art direction for the bike?
Yes, like the bike I had at nationals, which I still have. Mark and I came up with that idea. The paint artist at Trek is really good, super creative. I’ll say “I want these colors” or “I’m thinking about this” and he’ll send me back with three different options. I’ll usually pick one of those or if not, he’ll say he can do something different. But usually what he sends me is pretty great.
Any prerace rituals?
I keep the same, consistent schedule. First, I get up and have coffee and a relaxing morning. Breakfast is usually four hours before race start.
I do my course preride at the same time, the same way, and my warmups are the same way. Race day I follow the same schedule, no matter where the race is. I base it off the preride time, and that I need to eat four hours before the race.
Prerace meal, postrace meal?
Prerace meal I have a combination of buckwheat and quinoa with dates and raisins and some mixed nuts and two eggs. Postrace I have a whey recovery protein drink and either Bounty bars or Snickers. Or potatoes, or buckwheat. Some sort of healthy carb and a good protein.
What are some of your travel essentials?
A way to make coffee and coffee beans. That goes in my bag first when I start packing. And then riding gear. That’s a given, but I make sure I have the kit, the helmet, the shoes. Two pairs of shoes for racing, always.
Favorite U.S. venue?
That’s a tough one. I’ve raced so many races. Louisville last year was pretty fun. And the Cincy [Cincinnati] races; those have been my favorite race weekends.
If I look back at all the racing I’ve done the Harbin Park CX course I think was the most fun. It was hilly, kind of like mountain biking on a golf course.
Favorite European venue?
Hulst is a really fun course. The Namur World Cup, Ruddervoorde. I like courses that are slippery with mud or have a lot of on/off the bike.
What’d you think of this venue in Dübendorf?
It wasn’t fun [laughs]. It was definitely a work day. A lot of cross courses have points in the race where you’re saying “man this is a fun section. I’m looking forward to it in the next lap.” There wasn’t too much of that. This is like, “I just need this to be over.”
The course layout was good; the venue was good. But the terrain was such heavy mud, and heavy grass. Since we had a dry race there wasn’t a lot of fun factor which was unfortunate. But that’s cross racing. You gotta do it all.
Mud or sand?
Technical or fast?
White or black socks?
Cats or dogs?
Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, any mixed breed that’s a fun dog but not necessarily a running dog. I love dogs of all breeds, but I’m not a runner. I want a dog that doesn’t have a ton of energy. One that can play a little bit of fetch and be good to go. Not a dog that needs an hour of running. I don’t have the energy.