Women’s Cycling Interview: 'Cross Racer Lya Daggett


Lya loves new adventures and all things outdoors. She races cyclo-cross and mountain bikes, participates in running events, rock climbs, cycle tours, is a massage therapist and teaches boot camps at local parks. She is not afraid to challenge herself and always has a smile on her face! Pro cyclo-cross rider Emily Kachorek talks to Lya about how she came to love 'cross racing and her advice for women interested in trying it out.

Lya Daggett
Lya Daggett | Photo: Jeff Namba

Name: Lya Daggett
Age: 35
Residence: Sacramento, California
Hometown: Loomis, California
Occupation: Massage therapist, owner of Sweet Pea Massage

How long have you been riding?

Started at 28 years old, so about seven years.

How did you first get into riding?

I decided that it was more responsible to commute by bicycle, so I bought a hybrid bike. I started commuting and loved it! Then a couple years later got involved with a local triathlon race company and decided to do a short triathlon. In order to do the triathlon I bought a used road bike. That made me love riding it even more! I got a job at a local bike shop so I could learn more about cycling. That's when I really got my start into cycling.

How did you first hear about cyclo-cross? 

I heard about cyclo-cross from the other women at the bike shop. They would go out on these training rides on the dirt and practice hopping on and off their bikes and running up hills and stairs. Naturally, I wanted to be involved. I joined a local cyclo-cross group that my friends were a part of and volunteered to help out at a local race. Then I was hooked!

How long had you been riding before you did you first race?

A short time after starting at the bike shop. But a few years after I bought my first bike.

Do you remember your first race? What do you remember about it?

Absolutely! It was in Santa Rosa and it was pouring rain. In some parts of the course the mud came up mid-calf. I was on an old Haro mountain bike a size or two too small for me. I had put narrow tires on it to make it more like a cyclo-cross bike. There were only about 10 ladies in my group and I remember situating myself behind the other racers at the start line. To my surprise several of them turned around to great me with smiles. Turned out they were a lot like me. Some of them had better handling skills and some better fitness, but we all seemed to be out there having fun. It was a blast!

Do get nervous before racing?

Yes. I don't know why. But I always do.

What is your favorite part about ‘cross racing? 

My favorite part of ‘cross racing is the vibe of the people there. It doesn't matter if it's your first race, or if you're a pro...everyone cheers for you. The spectators want racers to shake their cowbell, cheer for and offer various types of silly hand-ups to. Everyone is supportive and having a good time.

Why do you like ‘cross racing in general?

Riding bikes in the dirt is always a good time. I love going as hard as my body will let me. It feels like an obstacle course and depending on weather, can be different every lap you do: flat, straight, fast sections, steep hills, tight turns on off-camber loose dirt, grass that feels like Velcro. Dismount, barriers, remount, repeat. You can have a blast on your bike while getting a great workout.

Do you have a most embarrassing moment you remember from a race?

Definitely the naked race! Our local cyclo-cross series does the last ‘cross race of the year at a nudest colony just because it is great venue and course. But how can you not do a naked ‘cross race at a nudest colony?! They do a one-lap fun naked race, so I did it! However, because I am significantly slower than all of the other people in the race (it should be said that there were only one or two other women), it meant that I had to roll through the spectator sections all by myself. That was when I decided that I really needed to start working more on my speed. And that the chamois was a fantastic invention.

Do you have any tips for someone that wants to try ‘cross riding or racing?

Just do it! You can be as competitive or casual as you want about it. No one cares if you are bad at it and barely even notices if you are in first or last place. No one cares, they just want someone to cheer for, it’s great! Remember, you're out there doing what your body was made to do...move and play! And the more you do it, the better you get.

Are there other types of events you compete in other than ‘cross?

Cross-country mountain bike races, running races, and short triathlons.

Where do you enjoy riding your bike the most?

Pretty much anywhere in nature: dirt, trees, rocks, bugs.

About how many days a week do you ride your bike?

In the winter, about three times a week. In the summer, as much as possible.

Is there something that keeps you motivated?

Yes, I like to think about my life before bikes. That life consisted of Taco Bell, video games, a lot of mixed drinks, daytime television, sleep deprivation and feeling like I was missing out. Not to say that a bike changed my life, but riding was a positive habit that gave me the confidence to make other needed life changes. So, I guess a bike did change my life. I also get motivated when I think about the beautiful places I've ridden and the amazing people I've met in the cycling community.

What advice would you give women who want to start racing?

  • Connect with other women riders. Find women's group rides. Make your girlfriends do it with you!
  • Don't ever be embarrassed to ask about something you aren't sure about.
  • No need to wear underwear under your cycling shorts. 
  • With every ride you get a bit better, which is awesome because someday you'll need to share cycling advice with your friends who are new to riding.

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This Article Updated November 7, 2014 @ 06:14 PM For more information contact: