Being Pro:Kirsti Lay

We catch up with the road & track cyclist from Rally Cycling

Photos: Team Rally Cycling

Team: Rally Cycling

Hometown: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

Age: 28

Give us a background on what you’ve achieved thus far within your cycling career.

I’m still relatively fresh on the road. This is my second season with Rally Cycling. My background is more track-based, with myself being a team pursuit rider. I medaled at the world championships in 2014, ’15 and ’16, and won gold at the Pan American Games in ’15. During the Rio Olympics I came home with the bronze medal. I’ve had pretty good success so far on the track with the Canadian national team. My biggest result so far would have to be winning the Queen of the Mountains classification at the Tour of California in 2015. Last season was more track-focused for me, so I only did a few road races with Rally Cycling. I will be doing more road racing now, though.

How is it juggling your track and road program?

It’s definitely a challenge at times to do it right, both require so much commitment. Rally has worked incredibly well with Cycling Canada, which has helped a lot with my racing goals, whether they are on the track or on the road. I am basically on the track full-time in the winter, and then I will transition straight into the road season. I will have to miss a couple of early-season team camps, but everyone is on the same page with
making sure I don’t get overrun.

If you had to choose, which do you enjoy more, road or track?

I would say that my strengths come out more on the track, as I am a very high-powered, short-effort type of rider. I do very well in the four-minute power range. I feel like I see the most of myself on the track, and that’s why I love working as a team-pursuit racer. At the end of the day, though, it comes down more to what I’m doing. If I’m out on the track, I’ll be loving every minute of it and saying to myself that this is what I enjoy, but once I get out on the road I have the same thoughts, so it’s hard to say at the end of the day. It’s nice to have balance, it keeps me from getting so wrapped up in just one thing.

What’s the difference with the type of training you do for the track and road?

The main difference comes from the fact that I have to produce high power at high cadence (120-plus rpm) on the track, so it’s important to become efficient in that style of riding that riding road doesn’t necessarily require.

I do a lot of spin pyramid work on aero bars, hitting that cadence to work on efficiency, as well as four-minute best-power efforts. Also, because I’m mainly a team-pursuit rider, I have to be efficient at on/off riding (high power for 30 seconds and recover at zone 4 for one-minute repeats all done at high cadence). It’s essential to build my anaerobic capacity so that I can repeat often, which is required on the track. Road training provides a solid base to absorb all this intensity, or else it would be unsustainable for me.

How do you find balance in your life with your track racing, road racing and personal life?

That is usually the tricky part. Last year I was on the road around 300 days out of the year. Fortunately, my husband is very patient and believes in my goals. He’s also an Olympic athlete, so he understands what is required of a high-performance athlete, which makes it a lot easier. We try to see each other as much as possible and keep our communication frequent. Having him in my life gives me that balance, which is needed for outside of the cycling bubble. He really keeps me grounded.

With the Rio Olympics being over, will your track program mellow out a bit?

Yes, this year offers much more flexibility, as I have more time off from the track. The national team told me I could do a bit more of the road, so I stepped up my goals for this year on the road.

What are you looking to accomplish this season?

I think I have a lot more potential on the road than what I have given in the past. I am coming in this year more prepared. In the past my focus was to be ready for the track. I think I will see my results improve this year and would like to see my role as a GC rider improve as well. I would also like to be a good team member and help our climber, Sara Poidevin, in the stage races. I’d be happy with some top-five results in the one-day races that I do.

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