Somebody has to pay the bills around Niner HQ and Kristin Taylor does that well. Having worked with Niner since December of 2016, she’s already made an impression. Diving into mountain biking and gravel biking head first and signing up for the Dirty Kanza this past year offer a little hint about what Kristin’s made of. A few weeks ago, we sat down over a beer and learned a bit more. Read on.
NINER: WHAT’S YOUR FIRST MEMORY OF RIDING A BIKE?
KRISTIN: As far as I know, it was trying to ride my brother’s little yellow Spiderman bike. It was his bike and he didn’t want me on it because he didn’t like it when I messed with his stuff. But it was so much easier. It was a regular bike. And I had this girl’s bike with the banana seat and it seemed huge and wonky, like trying to ride a beach cruiser when you really need something that is a little more compact that you can steer easily. The Spiderman bike was low to the ground. But it was a boy’s bike and he said I was supposed to ride my girl’s bike.
NINER: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST MOUNTAIN BIKE AND WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST RIDE? DO YOU STILL HAVE IT?
KRISTIN: A Specialized Myka hardtail. Maybe a 2010 or 2011 model. It’s probably only been tuned up once. I rode it around Kansas City a ton because I didn’t know how to ride trails and I didn’t have anybody to ride trails with but I knew it was something I wanted to try doing. At that point I was running trails and I thought it would be really cool if I could ride these trails. So, for my 30th birthday, my roommate put out a little collection jar out at my birthday party but he helped me raise about $300 and it was a $700 bike. So I saved up the rest and bought it at a local bike shop.
NINER: WHAT’S THE ONE PLACE YOU’VE RIDDEN THAT YOU WOULD RETURN TO RIGHT NOW?
KRISTIN: The Ossagon Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in California. It’s a scenic drive in old growth forest and I was on this 12 day solo spirit quest adventure. The gotta get out of town kind of trip. I took my bike and my kayak. I’m out on the trails on a Wednesday. There wasn’t a soul around when I went down this trail, it wasn’t technical or anything, but it wound through the redwood forest. Gorgeous, dreamy huge trees as it eased through this beautiful forest, the trail surface was this squishy vegetative stuff. Gradually, the trees get smaller and the trail surface looks a little more slippery. Then you go down and down and wind through some rainforest-like shrub and eventually you get to the tall grasses and then you’re out on the beach. I’d love to do it again and take other people with me and share the experience with them. It was a pretty cool spot.
NINER: WHAT’S THE WORST RIDE YOU’VE EVER HAD?
KRISTIN: I figured this would be a ride on soggy gravel so I decided to get up early and go solo. I would take my time, tough out whatever sub-optimal conditions presented themselves and keep pedaling. My knee was not great, so I tried not to crank on it. I was in Windsor by around 9:30, which is when the wind became noticeable. Their little city lake by the park had whitecaps and sprays. By 10, the wind was in full swing straight out of the North. I stuck to pavement into the headwind, which by then was probably 25-30 mph. I was in my lowest gear, 140 beats per min on the HR monitor, going 7mph. I had a long way to go to get far enough north to be in Fort Collins. The wind began switching to the NW around 11:30, I hit the northern corner of my route around 12-12:30, and headed west riding on a slant from the sidewind. The only time I was able to turn south and take advantage of the tailwind was for about 5 minutes on the other side of I-25. I ate my bag of apple slices and coasted on this flat section of pavement, going 15mph without pedaling. I headed home early because I didn’t want to be caught 20 miles out in the county with a western headwind to deal with when it was time to get west. I drank 2 litres of water, and consumed a breakfast burrito, a slice of pizza, a banana, two carrots, and an apple. And I still felt demolished. What am I going to do if that happens on race day? Give up and go home early?? I was not in a good mental state.
NINER: WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE BIKE THAT HAS GRABBED YOUR ATTENTION AND HELD ON TO IT?
KRISTIN: There’s immediate satisfaction once you get on a bike and are suddenly going a lot faster than you were when you were walking. I used to run a bunch and I just love the feeling of getting on the bike and going fast. It doesn’t have to be road bike fast, but you’re getting on, you’re pushing the pedals and you’re just cruising. I love the feeling of just cruising through the air. And you don’t have to be on a motorcycle to be flying through the air fast. It doesn’t matter what bike I’m on, I just like getting on and going. You get the wind in your face. Just flying through the air. In terms of mountain biking, I just love the times when I can just get on a trail like Blue Sky, that has flowy parts, and you’re taking easy turns, doing little bump jumps over rocks. It’s flow joy, complete flow joy.
NINER: WHAT MOVIE OR NOVEL (OR CARTOON) CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH?
KRISTIN: Pippi Longstocking. People would tell her she’s weird and she just didn’t care. She just marches to the beat of her own drum.
NINER: WHAT’S THE ONE RULE YOU TRY TO LIVE BY?
KRISTIN: Try to learn something new every day.
NINER: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU DIDN’T WORK FOR NINER AND FUNDS WERE NOT AN ISSUE?
KRISTIN: I would travel internationally. I’d probably start in Mexico or Central America. I really want to learn Spanish. I know a little bit but I’d really like to be fluent.
NINER: IN THE CYCLING WORLD, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET AND GO FOR A RIDE WITH? WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THAT PERSON?
KRISTIN: Probably Rachel Atherton. I would ask her how she mentally prepares for her rides and how she learned to trust herself on things like scary corners and other gnarly sections.
One major thing I learned to do this spring at Creek Week in North Carolina was how to shut off the mental static and clear my mind. Once I’ve committed to doing something that requires focus, like a difficult section of trail or a big rapid on the river, I need to take all that brain static and the scary movies that play out in my head about what could go wrong and cancel them out with positive thoughts. It’s a process of acknowledging that it’s there but not letting it take over. Then I corral all the rest of the static and set it aside. Creating that blank open space in my mind is how I am able to focus on just the things I need to. I can now effectively shut off all the noise.
NINER: WHAT PIECE OF BIKE GEAR CAN YOU NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
KRISTIN: My helmet. I am clumsy and accident prone so protecting my head is crucial.
NINER: IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BOWLING, MINI-GOLF OR DISC GOLF, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
KRISTIN: Hands down, disc golf. I love walking around outdoors and throwing a disc. My golf bag holds seven discs and two beers.
NINER: IF YOU COULD IMPROVE ON SKILL ON THE MOUNTAIN BIKE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
KRISTIN: I want to do better on technical climbs. Getting up and over things is hard.