Athlete Profile – Arley Kemmerer – Cyclocross Powerhouse
What does an attorney, personal trainer, and professional cyclist have in common? The answer is Arley Kemmerer, she is all of these and much more. Today, she is the second in our series of women who aren’t afraid to get “a little dirt in their skirt.” Arley is based out of Pennsylvania where she is an attorney and personal trainer by day and one of the top female Cyclocross racers in her off time. She recently rode herself into a 10th place finish at US Nationals this past January in Madison, Wisconsin. People are taking notice of this twenty-eight year old. She has garnered attention from some impressive sponsors; C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, Twenty20 Cycling Company, Blue Bicycles, Specialized, Verge Clothing, Mad Alchemy, Cole Wheels, Swiftwick, Crank Brothers, Tifosi, Hostetter Insurance.
Never heard of cyclocross? Cyclocross is to cycling what steeplechase is to running. Think about mixing pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Ok obstacle racers do I have your attention now, yes obstacles you have to go over and carry a bike, interested? Competitors use bikes specific to cyclocross but for the layman it looks like a road bike with mountain biking tires.
I caught up with Arley between rides and training at her local Crossfit gym and she answered a few questions for Dirt In Your Skirt. Great connecting with my old classmates and friends who have taken their passion for sport we all had as teenagers and continued it on into adulthood. Arley is not only continuing it but also an role model for young riders looking to get into the sport of Cyclocross.
How did you get involved in Cyclocross?
I was introduced to Cyclocross at UNH when I joined the cycling club there. I was told all New England bike racers race ‘cross, so I figured I had to give it a try.
Were you always an athlete?
Yes. I was a ski racer for most of my life, but also played soccer, ran cross-country and track, and mountain biked for fun with friends and family.
What are some of your athletic achievements?
10th at 2012 US Nationals, a 25th place ranking in the first UCI international ranking and points list in 2010, 8th place ranking in 2010 US National rankings.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Making the Worlds team this year would be an amazing achievement, since this is the first time the World Championships for cyclocross have ever been held in the United States (in Louisville, KY), but it is a reach. I’d like to improve upon my 2012 nationals result of 10th, and be more consistent this year. I’d also like to make it overseas to a World Cup this year. I’ve never raced cyclocross in Europe, but I’m hoping to have the fitness this year to make a trip to Europe worthwhile and turn a good result.
Who are your inspirations?
I think all women who participate in sport, who dedicate themselves every day to training and making their sporting aspirations come true, are an inspiration. Women unite themselves through sport in such a unique way, no matter what your sport is, and it creates a special bond between all of us. That bond pushes us all to be better and show the world what women are capable of. I think that, in some ways, is the best part of being a female athlete, and is my biggest inspiration to train harder and be better everyday.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
Placing 10th at 2012 US Cyclocross Nationals, particularly because I had a very rough season leading up to that race.
What is your most proud moment in life?
Passing the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bar exams on my first attempt.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I’m pretty hard on myself, so I am constantly learning to process bad races or training sessions in a healthy way. I am very analytical, so I try to figure out exactly what I believe went wrong that day. If it is something within my control, I figure out ways to avoid that issue in the future. But, if it is something out of my control, I work on just letting it go and moving on. Like many athletes, a bad race or training day sometimes rattles my confidence a bit, so I constantly strive to look toward the positives to revive my belief in myself and my abilities.
What is your training routine like?
I train on the bike 5-6 days a week (that includes 2 races a week when in season), anywhere from 10 to 17 hours a week. Training sessions on the bike range from easy one-hour rides, to 4 hour rides. Some workouts call for intense interval training that make you want to puke! I also participate in Crossfit style workouts prepared by a good friend of mine and owner of a great gym, Dedicated Fitness, near where I live. I do that twice a week in preparation for the season, and scale that back once the season is in full swing.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
I do a lot of free clinics for women to generate interest in cyclocross, but also to ease the intimidation factor that many women feel about jumping into a bike race. Many women are reluctant to jump into something without understanding how it works. So I would encourage anyone who is interested in cyclocross, or bike racing in general, to ask questions! Join a local cycling club or shop ride and meet people who are into cycling. Ride with other people to get comfortable riding in groups. And don’t be afraid to jump into a race. The best way to learn how to race IS to race, so give it a shot. Nobody cares what place you get, as long as you ride safe and have fun! The cycling community is very friendly and encouraging, and we always enjoy sharing our passion with new people.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
Pre-race: Steel-cut oats with bananas and almonds for breakfast, then a pack of caffeinated Jelly Belly Sport Beans.
Post-Race: Chipotle Fajita Burrito if I can find one! LOVE Chipotle!
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
I ride for fun with friends, and also really enjoy getting out on my mountain bike. I spend lots of time with my chocolate lab, Kali, who goes on most of my adventures with me! I’ve gotten back into rock climbing a little bit, and other outdoor activities like skiing, kayaking, and hiking. I also like to cook and enjoy chilling at home listening to music.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
“My better is better than your better”.
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
Ride your race and trust your instincts. Don’t let anyone determine your outcome for you.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Cycling is a tough sport. It takes year-round dedication to your training and nutrition regiment. And sometimes, no matter how closely you follow your regiment, your body just doesn’t follow through. You have to take the good with the bad, learn from all your mistakes, and hang in there! I’ve found that it takes years to master the sport of cycling, so you have to be persistent and roll with the punches. Also, you have to be as mentally strong as you are physically strong. I think the mental aspect of cycling (or really any sport for that matter), becomes more challenging to manage sometimes than the physical demands. So you also have to learn to believe in yourself and your abilities, and not allow yourself to lose confidence over one bad race. And of course, above all else, have fun – because if it isn’t fun, then why are you doing it?!
Best of luck to Arley this summer in the road biking season. We will be watching out for her in the fall when the cyclocross season kicks back in. If you live in PA look out for one of her clinics and try out this growing sport!