Kate Courtney is on top of her game and enjoying the ride.
It’s been win after win for the 21-year-old, who is one of the leading female XC mountain bike racers in the world. This summer she graduated from Stanford University and shifted her focus entirely to cycling.
“For me, balance means trying to get the most out of my training while still remembering that I am a human being who sometimes needs rest and life outside of cycling,” says Courtney.
The California native grew up at the base of Mount Tamalpais, and started racing competitively when she was 14.
Balancing school and pushing herself to the limit when competing was a huge challenge.
“It forced me to wake up every day and recommit to my goals,” she tells HER Magazine.
It takes a village
Courtney has a pretty strict schedule year-round, and works with a team of professionals including her mechanic Brad Copeland who helps get her ready for the next big race.
“Having a plan and team I believe in keeps me focused and makes racing feel like something I am a part of that is bigger than me,” she says.
The Red Bull sponsored athlete finds “the mental side of racing” one of the biggest challenges in the sport. When she first started competing, she struggled with confidence and believing in herself.
In 2016, she crashed in the first few minutes of a race. It was her worst international finish. She felt disappointed and lost.
Finding a way to reset
Courtney worked with a sports psychologist and set goals for her next race. She set out to “enjoy the process, perform in the present and leave the course knowing I gave it all.”
It worked. That next race ended up being her best World Cup finish that season.
“Nothing is more satisfying than riding a new trail or conquering a feature that I once had to walk,” says Courtney.
Even though she races professionally, Courtney started mountain biking as a great way to spend time with friends and family, a fun form of exercise and a new way to explore the beautiful outdoors.
“My best advice for beginners is to keep it fun!”
Interested in learning more about mountain biking?
Courtney says “stick to more friendly terrain until you are ready for the next big challenge.”