If you haven’t heard of Selene yet, it was about time. She has written and co-authored more than two dozen books, is a frequent contributor to Runner’s World, Women’s Health, and Shape magazines and, dishes out training advice monthly as Bicycling magazine’s “FitChick.” Her book, “The Bicycling Big Book of Cycling for Women: Everything You Need to Know for Whatever, Whenever, and Wherever You Ride” includes advices regarding hormones and exercise performance, cycling while menstruating, cycling while pregnant, how menopause affects your training, and how specific parts of the female body are affected by cycling. This one just went on my kindle shelf. Selene’s advices suit feminine physique as well as, masculine. She writes about nutrition, cycling fitness and pretty much anything that relates to pedaling and health. For beginners and for seasoned cyclists. Selene lives and breathes cycling; her no-fluff writing style, authenticity and most of all, efficiency, is what will make you hear her voice in the noise of clickbaits, worn out motivational speeches and bikinis.
If you thought all of this is impressive, wait, there’s more. She’s also a mum, wife, humanitarian, professional mountain biker, certified personal coach and, triathlete. For years, she was a part of the Rare Disease Cycling team whose goals are to raise awareness and money for research for rare diseases. Personally, I don’t believe she’s entirely human.
Her twitter profile says – “Bicycling mag calls me the Fit Chick. Others call me other things. I like to call myself so I can hear my bitchen ringback.” Seems like she doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is quite refreshing, yet, she definitely takes cycling seriously. Recently, she experimented with alternative protein sources. Insects. I could totally imagine her powering up a hill, shafts of sun light celebrating her scientifically sculptured body, popping a cricket without blinking. Selene, in her own words, searches “for events/goals that capture my imagination and set myself to accomplishing them.“ And, she does, indeed. Her “feminist approach” is pretty much disregarding any kind of ideas of what men and women can and cannot do. It’s feminism without feminism.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What cycling means for you?
Selene Yeager: Funny but I don’t really ever think about it because it’s part and partial to who I am. It would be like asking what sunshine or air means to me. They’re always in my life and I love them and need them to live. I know I could live without riding a bike, but it wouldn’t be the rich life I have because I ride bikes. My husband rides. My friends ride. My coworkers ride. Bikes are part of life. Cycling is part of life.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Why do you think women cycle less than men?
Selene Yeager: I don’t really think that anymore. On any given ride I do, road or mountain, there’ll be nearly just as many women as men these days. Racing is a different animal. More men still race than women, though you see those numbers rising too. But just women out on bikes? They’re here. We’re here. Younger women I talk to don’t even think about the gender differences. They’re just out there riding.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Do you think cycling can empower women? How?
Selene Yeager: The way any sport can empower anybody. When you achieve something beyond your comfort zone, it’s empowering. Cycling does that. You climb mountains. You push yourself to hang with riders who are stronger than you. You go further than you thought possible. Every time you do that, you’re empowered. And that confidence spills into your professional and personal life.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: When did you decide that mountain biking is “your thing”? Why?
Selene Yeager: The first time I rode a mountain bike. Seriously. I remember rolling into the woods and being blown away. I was like, “People do this? They ride through streams and over rocks and logs? In!” I just got done with a ride a few minutes ago on the same trail system I learned on and I’m as blissful this moment as I was all those years ago. It’s such a simple pleasure. And at the risk of sounding new age-y (because I’m not), it’s extremely Zen. When I’m mountain biking I’m not thinking of anything but mountain biking. I usually have some sort of song running through my head and I just feel peaceful and happy. There’s nothing like it to me.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What was your best cycling moment so far?
Selene Yeager: Way too many to list. Cycling has taken me around the world…South Africa, Brazil, Israel, British Columbia. I feel so incredibly fortunate and so incredibly grateful. If I had to list one moment I would say winning the Brasil Ride stage race with Rebecca Rusch in 2013. The race was so long and arduous and amazing and brutal and beautiful. Every day when we lined up, I would look at the beautiful mountains surrounding us and say a little prayer of thanks for just being there.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: How do you define “sexy”?
Selene Yeager: I don’t. Sexy just is. It’s simple and comfortable and doesn’t need to be underscored or flashed in neon.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: Why do you think that ”skilled cyclists are made in the rain”?
Selene Yeager: Did I say that somewhere? I guess you could say that. Riding in the rain, whether on the mountain or road definitely forces you to sharpen your skills simply because suddenly everything is slick. There’s not much margin for error and you have to learn to relax when you’re not feeling particularly relaxed. I don’t love road riding in the rain. Probably never will.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: You write about nutrition a lot; given that so many people are struggling with eating disorders and finding the right information about food, what is your advice? Can cycling help?
Selene Yeager: It’s very difficult. Women aren’t the only ones with this issue. I know plenty of male cyclists who have disordered eating if not outright eating disorders. It’s a problem in any sport that rewards power to weight (a.k.a: being lighter). That said, riding a bike was my salvation. I took to being more objective about my weight and my eating. I wasn’t more powerful the lighter I got. There was a tipping point where I was less powerful, struggled more to hang with faster riders and just didn’t feel as good. It helped me develop a healthier relationship with my food and body. I cook for myself and my family and enjoy eating fresh wonderful food. I still have my moments and my struggles. But generally, I do well with lots of vegetables and lean meats, seeds and nuts and beans and rice. I just keep it simple. Because eating should be simple. We make it far more complicated than need be.
Kate of Bikes&Humans: What’s your ringtone?
Selene Yeager: It’s Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. Because I am.
Don’t forget to check out Selene’s latest book, “ROAR“, comprehensive, physiology-based nutrition and training guide specifically designed for active women. Also, what’s your favorite ring tone?