Rachel Lloyd’s Cross Comeback
A few years ago, most of Rachel Lloyd’s bike riding was pulling around her young son, Henry, in the trailer. This season, the 39-year-old Lloyd – riding for California Giant-Specialized –instead is pulling many of her rivals around the course on her way to multiple podium finishes across the United States. It’s an impressive comeback for Lloyd, who had retired in 2009 to start a family. We had a chance to chat with Lloyd of Fairfax, Calif., when she visited SRAM Indy recently:
What made you decide to come back?
That’s a funny story… my twin sister started racing, so I was giving my old bikes. We decided to meet up at a race in Bend (Ore.) so she could see the kids because it was kind of in between where she lives in Olympia and where we live in California. So I thought I should do some races to prepare for this race in Bend, where there’d be more competition. I was doing well in all the local races, and it just kind of snowballed. My husband was very supportive and very encouraging and wanted me to do Nationals, so I called (Cal Giant – Specialized General Manager Anthony Gallino) up and said, ‘OK, can I be back on the team?’ He had always said if you ever want to race again, give me a call. He was always very supportive of me stopping racing and starting a family. (Lloyd has a daughter, son and stepson.)
You’ve come back strong with top results. Has this season met your expectations, exceeded it?
When I was racing before I was always in contention for podiums…. It’s just crazy because if everybody is out there, it’s very competitive. I think it’s a little more competitive (now). I’m really very happy. I’m definitely where I was hoping to be.
How did your approach change from before your comeback to now?
Well, I can’t train quite as much. I don’t have as much time, and I don’t get to recover as well. I don’t get to spend as much time. I can’t just hang out…. I gotta get my kids from whoever is taking care of them while I’m training. It means less training, and I just have to be relaxed. I’m just banking on the years in my legs… Riding the new disc brakes really helps. It’s so amazing being on a cross bike with disc brakes.
What’s the biggest difference with the HydroR Hydraulic Disc Brakes?
It’s just really nice to have predictable braking. You know exactly what you’re going to get and it’s not going to change…. So much of riding a bike in technical conditions is mental…. Cornering, leaning over, cornering fast, it’s all in your head and knowing what your bike can do. So, if you’re questioning whether your brakes are going to work in a turn, you’re not going to be able to go as hard as you can.
What are your goals for this season?
To have a good race at Nationals and to make the Worlds team.
What about other technology changes since before your comeback?
The CX1 is great. I love it. I really like having the 1X11. I have it on my mountain bike. It’s so awesome, and it’s really nice to have it on the cross bike too.
Lloyd finished second on the second day of racing at the recent Derby City Cup in Louisville, one of her impressive string of top placings this season.
Photos by Joe Vondersaar