CX Athlete Feature: Rebecca Fahringer
Becca Fahringer, 31, started out as a triathlete in college, competing at National Championships and the 2013 World Championships in her age group. 2013 was her first year racing Cyclocross where she jumped right into racing Collegiate and Elite National Championships. Fast forward a few years, Fahringer is one of the ones to watch on the U.S. national scene and has had a top 20 finish at the UCI World Championships. Not only is she sitting at the top of the ProCX rankings, she even has a Master’s Degree from Brown University in Geological Sciences. Fahringer talks about her history with triathlon and her new team.
Why did you decided to switch from triathlon to cyclocross?
I am not so sure I decided to "switch", actually. I tried one cyclocross race and was immediately hooked. I had already registered for an Ironman before I started CX. It was supposed to be my first full distance, but by the grace of the CX gods I broke my hand in a road race, leaving me unable to train for the full, so I finished my tri-ing career with another half-iron and was able to focus on CX for good! I still miss triathlon a little, and figure I will still do some once I "retire" from the pro ranks.
How has your triathlon background helped you with racing?
At first, I was going to say that triathlon only helped with CX training, not racing. Because for tri you have to do so many workouts, swim, bike, run, lift, stretch, that keeping a diverse workout regimen for CX felt natural. But then I realized that triathlon, for me, was a 100% pursuit effort, solo and all-out, much like cyclocross. There isn't a lot of playing games or being smart in a race sense, just go all out and hope for the best (aside from some pacing). That is kind of how I take to CX, though now I am practicing the art of racing a little more.
What do you do when you’re not racing bikes?
Not a lot. Racing bikes is pretty tiresome!
What was it like going from managing a team to now being on Kona Maxxis Shimano?
It was a huge relief. I found it stressful to deal with sponsors and coordinate equipment and take on burdens for others. I think I would be better at the role now, but I took on too much too soon in trying to manage a team while also really starting to launch myself as an athlete. But, sadly, that is how it goes for a lot of athletes in cyclocross. I was really lucky to join Kerry on Kona Maxxis Shimano! It's more like hanging out and riding bikes than racing at the highest level.
How different is the racing in Europe?
There are some similarities, like caring about the results and being nervous in the grid. But it is also hugely different! We don't set up a cool compound for the weekend - it's in and out each day. Where I feel really comfortable on nearly all US courses there are still a few Euro courses that give me butterflies when I preride, and elements that have me counting down the number of times I have to face them in the race. The schedules are a lot more compact making for a busy day; there isn't a lot of downtime between prerides like in the US. The crowds are generally big and hard to navigate, but there aren't as many friendly fans wanting to chat (just a few that want autographs). It is also different because in the US I usually know where I can expect to place, but in a European C2 I can go from potentially the podium to in the 20's because the talent is deep, the courses are grueling, and I am usually a bit cracked by that time in the season. Some races I go just wanting to get experience on the course, knowing I don't have the legs for the day.
What does the rest of the season look like for you?
I just finished up a big racing block at RRFCX in Falmouth, MA, PanAms in Canada, and Supercross in NY. Now I have a couple of weekends off to freshen up. I do a tune-up race at NBX in RI before I fly to Washington for Nationals. The Monday after Nationals Kerry and I fly to Belgium to start the second half of our season in Europe. We will be there through February.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
This is a question I think about a lot. This sport can be fickle, both in sponsorship and how it treats your body. I see the careers of the women around me, like Katie Compton, Katerina Nash, Ellen Van Loy, and I realize that I could keep this up for another decade! But then I remember racers who have retired while still at the top of their game, and some that have stopped seeing returns and stepped out. I hope I can continue to be competitive, that sponsors see value in myself and in the sport, and that the community remains lively for years to come so that I can keep living and working this dream. Otherwise, I think I would enjoy being a grocery store clerk that no one wants to go to because I am always making inappropriate comments about what you are buying.
To cheer on Becca throughout the year, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @GoFahr.
Visit USACycling.org for more information on the athletes, events, and membership programs, and follow @USACycling across all channels for the latest on Team USA.
Cyclocross Nationals is around the corner! Don't forget to register today! https://www.usacycling.org/events/national-championships/2019-usa-cycling-cyclocross-national-championships