Women’s Cycling Interview: Masters Racer Mitzi Silber
At 52 years old, Mitzi Silber raced her first road race. She is a self-described "normal" person, which we think is what makes her story so great. She shows strength, perseverance and a down-to-earth attitude that makes it clear that anyone can race a bike — and enjoy it! Thanks for the inspiration, Mitzi.
Name: Mitzi Silber
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Work: Aerospace Business Development Associates, Inc.
What are some of your earliest memories about bikes?
My earliest memories must be from about age 8 or so. I had a purple banana seat on my bike and I was very jealous of my brother’s handlebar grips that ended in tiger heads on his handlebars.
What brought you to the sport of cycling?
My son, Kipp, started my journey to taking on cycling. After he had been training for about six months, I became suddenly very ill and was hospitalized repeatedly. I ended up with three major surgeries and 45 days in the hospital. I was in the hospital for his first race and was so unhappy about missing it. My husband ended up getting to ride in the sweep car and gave me a play by play! After I was well, I started volunteering for Team Dayton and eventually joined the board of directors, in charge of membership. I’m certainly not the first person to have a new outlook on life after a serious health scare. Once I was healthy, I decided it was time to try something completely out of my comfort zone and I began training with the team. My first race was at racing age 52!
What do you love about bike racing? What is it about bike racing that motivates you to put in all the hard work and endure the suffering that goes along with it?
I think it is knowing that I can do it! I’m not just a wife/mom/bookkeeper, but also an athlete. I keep working hard and take note of any improvements. I suffer plenty in races and will go through almost anything to finish! And of course I enjoy spending lots of time with my teammates. My family and teammates are big motivators and are critical to the enjoyment!
Where do you enjoy riding most?
I feel very fortunate to have moved to southwest Ohio. We have hundreds of miles of bike trails and picking an absolute favorite would be impossible. I ride a lot along the Great Miami River and there is a great new extension that does a winding, uphill climb for just over two miles. I really enjoy climbing and it’s pretty rare to get any on a bike trail, so that’s a hit! When training with others, I really enjoy climbing the hills that surround the ‘valley’ of the Oregonia area.
What advice would you someone who wants to start racing?
Find a team! There is a wealth of knowledge from the veterans and it makes the suffering easier during training. And when you pull up to the start line, it’s really nice to have friends there! Be realistic – measure your progress by small steps, both after racing and training.
Besides the training, you’ve got to learn about nutrition and hydration – you will burn a ton of fuel. And don’t just consume a lot of stuff, but eat the foods that will agree with you and give you energy. Due to my surgeries, I’ve struggled with this. For instance, you may have to try several different drinks before you find the right one for you.
What advice would you give an aspiring cyclist?
Surround yourself with like-minded people! It will make the suffering easier to endure and their support and knowledge will be critical to your success.
What advice would you give to women who are new to riding a bike?
To be honest, part of training is also social interaction, so it’s great to be getting in your training while also fulfilling our need for friendships! So once again – ride with friends or teammates. Also, make it a priority to ride with some guys – they make you stronger, fast! And from the perspective of wife/mom, I find the hardest hit part of my daily life from riding is a family dinner. To help cover that role, I prep whatever I can early in the day and the crock pot is being used much more frequently.
What cycling accomplishment are you most proud of?
Garrett County Gran Fondo last June, near Deep Creek, Maryland. I rode the Mashochistric Metric course and climbed 8,096 feet. I had never done anything remotely like it and knew that due to the type of terrain, I would not be riding with my husband, Craig, so also riding ‘alone’. (He completed the Savage Century!) It was so tough. As soon as you complete one climb and get back down, it’s right up the next one. Little to no recovery, ever. My longest climb is 4.8 miles. The last climb is another 1.4 miles right up to the finish. I rode the last few miles with another gal that told me she had to walk the last climb when she did the ride the year before. I told her it wasn’t happening again, and we made a pact that we would keep each other going to that finish and not walk a step of it. And we did it — together. I can’t tell you how terrific I felt crossing that finish line!
What is your biggest cycling goal?
I’m going back to the Gran Fondo in June and am going to try and not stop for a breather on any of the climbs. I absolutely will not walk a step! The Gran Fondo is a timed event and I hope to have a big time decrease. I am also racing at the Ohio Senior Olympic Games and hope to qualify to race next year at the National Olympic Senior Games for Team Dayton.
Other than race results, what kind of impression do you want to leave on the world of cycling? I hope I’ve demonstrated that it’s never too late to change your life and learn something entirely new. Cycling certainly doesn’t have to end due to aging. It’s a great way to exercise for better health. There is a reason why it’s often prescribed by doctors for rehab or to change a sedentary lifestyle. I plan to always stay active and as I reach retirement, I hope to start touring other states by bike.
What is your favorite non-cycling activity?
Gardening! I have a vegetable garden every year and have many flower beds. Gardening is another good way to rid oneself of stress — like cycling.
What do you do in your downtime?
Pull lots of weeds and find recipes to utilize all that produce I’m picking.
What kind of offseason vacations do you take?
We tend to focus on very physical activities and scenery. Two recent vacations were to Deer Valley, Utah, where we hike so many beautiful miles! And we also went mountain biking, but I really didn’t feel very safe around those cliffhanger, hairpin turns. We’ve also done trips to the Red River Gorge to bike and climb the gorge on the Via Ferrata course. This year we are going to Costa Rica to enjoy the beaches and wildlife, of course, but to also try canyoning and ziplining – very stoked!
What non-cycling athletes or teams do you root for?
Ravens and Orioles! We spent 12 years living near Baltimore and my husband’s family is still there.
What’s your favorite movie/book/song/dance move?
Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Indiana Jones movies.
If you were on the Price is Right, what would your dream Showcase Showdown be?
It would definitely be a trip! There are so many places I would like to visit and a lot of them are right here in this great country. The bucket list is long, but one that sticks out right now is to someday attend the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. Beautiful scenery, fast bikes and pro teams — what’s not to love about that?!
- Get to Know the Women of American Cycling - Jun 13, 2014
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