Rhae Shaw is Ready to Take on the Tour of California

Rhae Shaw is a self-proclaimed smiley goofball, but don’t let that fool you. She’s also a serious competitor when she’s on two wheels. The former Ironman-triathlete switched to professional road cycling in 2011 and even though she might have started late in competitive cycling, her list of results reads like a seasoned pro.

The 40-year-old Canadian National Champion is currently riding for the newly developed women’s team BMW p/b Happy Tooth. Shaw previously took a short break from full-time racing, but she’s back at it this year and is already posting notable results. With a Big Bear Time Trial win at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Shaw is showing good form early in the season. She just completed a three-week altitude-training block in Mammoth Lakes leading up to the AMGEN Tour of California, May 8-15, 2015 (Women’s Race).

We caught up with Rhae to talk about her training in Mammoth.

You are from Canada originally, but have lived in Boulder, Colorado and out of a suitcase more recently. Tell us how you ended up in Mammoth Lakes for an altitude-training block.

I’ve been traveling for the past year to Seattle and back to Canada, so I haven’t had anytime at altitude. I’m a huge believer in the benefits of training at altitude—it makes you feel supercharged. I’ve heard about Mammoth, so I really wanted to come. Two stages of the AMGEN Tour of California are in Tahoe and the time trial is in Big Bear. You want to have the ability to handle hard efforts at altitude, so you have to live high, sleep high, and get in some really good training at those altitudes.

How do you manage to stick to a training plan while traveling so much?

The biggest challenge when you go to new places is that sometimes you can’t find good routes. It can be stressful going to a new place because you don’t know if you’ll find a 15- or 20-minute climb, or a place for 3 hours of un-interrupted tempo. But here that hasn’t been a problem. There are so many options—it’s been really, really good. There is every type of terrain for every type of workout that I want to do. The hardest has been finding good routes for time trial because there aren’t any flat roads, so I drove down to Bishop one day. It was the windiest day in history, so I called it and went to the bakery.

Have you been able to stick to healthy eating while training in Mammoth Lakes or does the hard training make you want to splurge on treats?

All professional athletes pay attention to what they eat, but at the same time you can’t work this hard and not treat yourself. One of the surprises when I came here was the whole foods store. That’s unusual for there to be such a great health food store in such a small town; I was really happy about that. I’ve hit all the coffee shops and cafes. I just like to hang out before or after a ride, and then I hit the cookie bar before I come home. An occasional stop at the cookie bar is definitely fun.

This is your first visit to Mammoth Lakes; tell us about where you’ve been riding.

I’ve been super happy exploring randomly and enjoying the scenery. I can’t think of any place that I’ve been that’s been better as far as terrain options go. Everything is close by and there are so many climbs that go straight out the front door. That’s been super wonderful and the roads are fabulous for riding. I’ll kind of check a map before I leave for a ride, but a lot of times I end up seeing a neat road and just go for it. Quite a few rides have ended up being longer than they are supposed to because I didn’t want to come back. The bike paths are fabulous and the trails as well, I’ve been mountain biking, too.

What else have you been doing since you’ve been in Mammoth Lakes?

Cyclists are supposed to be resting with our feet up when we aren’t riding, but I’m a huge fan of the outdoors, so I just want to go explore all the time. I went to the hot springs, which I chalked up as recovery, and I also had a really good massage. I’ve been going for walks and short runs on the trails and I went fishing up near Lake Mary. I went to the driving range one day, played some golf, and I’ve been to the Snowcreek Gym quite a few times. They have yoga classes every day, so I’ve been going at night, which is a great way to wind down after a hard training day. And I went to an abs-class that destroyed me. It was really fun and really hard.

What’s next for you on the racing calendar?

I’ll be leaving Mammoth for the Tour of California. The women’s race has two days in Tahoe, and the third stage is a criterium in Sacramento, and then the invitational time trial in Big Bear. The invited riders were just announced it’s a great list—it’s going to be a great race. All of the women take it very seriously. Everyone is training and preparing for it at high altitude. I love the course. It’s very similar to the Redlands race, which I just won, so I am excited about it.

If a “happy Rhae, is a fast Rhae” we can’t wait to see how she competes now that she’s also Mammoth Strong—good luck in AMGEN Tour of California! Connect with Rhae Shaw on Twitter: @RhaeShaw 

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at monicaprelle.com and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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