Friday, March 26, 2010

March's Featured Rider: Kathy Pruitt

Kathy Pruitt has been a racer for almost her entire life. And she's been a pro racer for nearly half of it. She's been a staple on the US national and World Cup circuits for ten years, and consistently stands on the podium domestically. Internationally, she's solid a top-ten finisher and is chasing a downhill win at a World Cup. Kathy is unquestionably talented--whether she's descending, dirt jumping, or raging on the cross country bike--and incredibly hilarious. We're rooting for her to make it to the top of the of a World Cup podium (or two) this season!--FF

Name: Kathy Pruitt
Home: Santa Cruz, California
Age: 27
Favorite type of riding: Everything!
Why you ride: It's challenging, rewarding and allows me to be creative.
Sponsors: Jamis Bikes, Giro, e-thirteen, Smith, Sombrio, Geax

Way back in 1988 I was racing and riding pee-wee motorcycles. I was 5 years old. That's when the two-wheeled obsession began. I continued with motorcycles and even turned pro at the age of 12. A few years later, after I had sustained a few major injuries, my parents decided to pull me out of the moto game. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I was pretty fast at going down a hill. The mountain bike my dad bought me to commute to track practice became my new outlet to relive my moto days. Soon, I convinced my dad to take me to a local downhill event in Truckee, California. I had a blast! More than 10 years later, I am still riding bikes and am just as competitive.

A lot of things have stayed the same in the bike world since I started racing World Cups in 1999. But,the biggest change is the talent level, it has gotten very close and is so competitive that the top five riders' times can be on the same tenth of a second. The sport's level of riding has progressed in both men's and women's riding. The bikes have become much easier to ride, and it's easy to see that the level of riding went up right next to the equipment progressing.

One of the things that has been hardest to learn in this sport is to be mentally strong, all the time. It doesn't matter if you are on a perfect bike and have all the best equipment, if your head and mind are not "there," you are not going to get over that scary jump or speed down the rutted and rooted track as fast as you could have. Becoming mentally strong and staying in that space is very difficult. If your mind is in the game, the rest will follow.

To combat becoming stale after 10+ years of competing and racing, I have learned to seek out other sports and activities that keep my mind fresh and challenged. I live near the ocean and luckily near many really good surf breaks. I have been learning to love the paddle out, how to read the swell, and figuring out the right place to be to catch that ride in. Surfing has become my reset button, you could say. It reminds me a lot of snowboarding, and I grew up doing that in Lake Tahoe, CA.

I've worked hard in this sport and have achieved almost all of the honors that you can achieve, except the ever-eluding Senior World Championships. In 2000, I was the Junior World Champion--the year before, I placed silver. I have been the 3-time National series overall champion in downhill and have won the National Championship event in downhill and dual slalom. I have also stepped on every spot of the World Cup podium except the top spot during my racing career. I've qualified 1st a few times, but never won.

My goals this year are pretty simple, I want to win races. I'll be spending more time at home in Santa Cruz to prepare for races and less time traveling, which will hopefully help me focus on my goals.

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