SPORT: X-Country Mountain Biking, Road Cycling
HOMETOWN: Mississauga, Ontario
Current Location: Summerland, BC
Biking since: 1999
Favourite Swagman Rack: The Semi 4.0
"There are so many amazing features about this bike rack: I love that the rack never touches my bikes but keeps them beyond secure and it’s ability to switch from a 2 bike rack to a 4 bike rack by attaching the extension is awesome!"
Since discovering, at age 34, that mountain biking is her passion, Louise Blais has relentlessly pursued the sport with focus and determination. Learning and competing in a male dominated sport certainly had its challenges but also its rewards. In 2007, she competed in the 700km TransRockies MTB race and followed that up in 2008 by competing in the 800km TransAlps MTB race. Her passion for all things singletrack was one of the main reasons she and her husband relocated to the Okanagan in 2012; a move both of them have agreed was one of their best yet.
Having worked over 35 years in the fitness industry and currently teaching in the Human Kinetics program at Okanagan College, Louise is more than aware of the disparity in numbers between male and female participation in sport, particularly in cycling. Research into this revealed many important differences with regard to how to introduce the sport to women and not content to just research, Louise put that research into action. In 2013, she started a women’s road cycling group in Penticton called She Rides Penticton. Initially, 14 brave souls showed up that first evening and the group has since grown to include over 60 participants and still growing. She was recently awarded the ProMotion Plus Leadership Award to recognize her efforts in promoting sport and physical activity to women and girls in BC.
What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?
One of the best decisions I have made to remain strong on the bike (other than move to BC) was to hire a coach. Although I provide coaching, having another perspective, especially for those hard days, has made a big difference to my training. There have been many cold, wet, long rides that wouldn’t have happened if someone wasn’t waiting to see those heart rate files.
What are some of your goals this season?
Professionally, one of my goals is to expand She Rides Penticton to include She Rides Strong[er]. I want to provide a more coached experience for those women that want to further improve their strength on the bike. I have personally experienced the life changes that can be a result of accomplishing challenging goals and I hope to help many more women do that as well.
Personally, 2016 is the year I knock one of my “bucket list” races off the list. In August I will compete in the Leadville 100 MTB race in Leadville, Colorado. The “race across the sky” is arguably the toughest mtb race on the planet, not just because it is 160km long but because those kilometres are all over 10,000 feet of altitude.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Who are your role models?
I have two mountain bike role models. One is Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesja, at 43 years of age she still dominates the world mountain bike scene. I firmly believe we have yet to discover what older athletes are capable of and until our collective consciousness changes to remove the mental barriers we have created with regard to this, I hope to push those limits for older female athletes everywhere. My other role model is Catharine Pendrel. Her integrity, sportmanship and work ethic are second to none. She is the most deserving world champion and I am excited to watch her compete in her third Olympic Games this summer and tackle the world cup of endure racing for the first time!
What is your favourite Swagman rack? What do you like about it?
Wow. This one is easy. The Swagman Semi 4.0 rack is definitely my favourite. There are so many amazing features about this bike rack: I love that the rack never touches my bikes but keeps them beyond secure and it’s ability to switch from a 2 bike rack to a 4 bike rack by attaching the extension is awesome! As a coach (and a mother of mountain biking daughters) I regularly need to transport more than 2 bikes and this bike rack allows me to do it with ease.