Shred-Girls.com, @shred.girls and @mollyjhurford on Instagram is how to find me!
1. What is it like being an author and a cyclist at same time?It’s… Well, it’s busy, to be honest. I actually don’t race bikes much anymore (I started ultra-running a couple years ago!) but I still spend at least two months of the year where I’m coaching at cycling camps. Right now, for example, I’m in Girona, Spain, and all of February and two weeks of March, I’ll be coaching by day and writing by night. It can be a little hard to balance sometimes, and when I’m coaching and riding a lot, I write a little less; but when I have a deadline for a new book, I ride a bit less! I sometimes pretend it’s a Superman/Clark Kent thing: I’m a mild-mannered reporter most of the time, but a Spandex-wearing speedy person part of the time too! (I don’t change in phone booths though.)
2. What inspired you to create Shred Girls?The scary fact is that a lot of little girls drop out of riding bikes around the ages of 8 to 13, because they don’t see other girls riding and can’t really picture themselves doing it—and that was my experience too! As a cycling journalist, I wanted to figure out a way to keep girls on bikes, and I knew that for some girls, reading about other girls getting rad on bikes would be the push that they needed to stay having fun on bikes! When I was a kid, I read The Babysitter’s Club books obsessively, and as a result, I started babysitting. Let’s be honest, biking is way more fun than babysitting, so I figured if books could convince me to babysit, they can definitely convince girls to bike!
3. When you were 10, what was your favorite book(s)? I definitely couldn’t just pick one, because I was a HUGE bookworm. (True story, I got banned from bringing books to recess because I read too much in school, so I sewed a pocket into my coat to smuggle one out to the playground anyway!) But I really loved every Nancy Drew mystery, and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on. Weirdly, even though I wasn’t athletic as a kid, I did love reading books about sports nutrition.
4. How old were you when you got into cycling? I’ve been riding bikes since I can remember—my neighbor was a boy my age and anything he did, I wanted to do, so the second he got a bike, I needed one. When he got his training wheels off, mine came off. We lived on a pretty quiet country road and spent a lot of time riding around the neighborhood and the woods behind our houses. But I stopped riding with him when I was 10, and didn’t really start again until I was 19! That’s when I discovered triathlon, and ended up joining my college’s cycling team in order to get better at riding bikes, since triathlons are swimming, biking and running combined. I fell in love with cycling then!
5. Do you have a favorite cycling discipline? I’ve tried them all and I have to say cyclocross—picture riding a road bike offroad, and having to hop on and off it to go over obstacles, racing in mud, snow and rain—is my favorite. The community around it is just the best! The first book I wrote was called “Mud, Snow and Cyclocross,” and I’ve spent years racing it and even managed a professional team so that I could live in Europe for chunks of the year and go to all of the really big races.
5a. Have you tried track cycling ? (It is what I do) I have tried track! I raced it for about a year when I was living closer to the Kissena Velodrome in New York and loved it for the tactics and how focused you had to be in races, but I found I prefer being outside on trails and when I moved to Massachusetts and then Ontario, there wasn’t a track near me anymore. I do miss it though! (Bridget note: I do feel lucky to live by two of velodromes in the US!)
6. What is your most proud cycling achievement? Oh, great question! I’ve had a few that I’ve been really proud of, but when I think of a time I felt the best on the bike, it was my second season of racing for the Rutgers Cycling team, after a few months of really focused training on the road. The first race of the season was our home race, and it was a criterium—a race that goes around a short, four-cornered course multiple times. When the race started, I started pedaling hard, and when I looked back, I was way out in front of everyone! My guy teammates who were on the sides of the course kept telling me to slow down and not blow up in the first couple laps, but as the race went on, I didn’t get tired. I remember smiling almost the entire time, I felt so good. I won the women’s B race that day, and even though it was a while ago and I’ve won other races since then, that one was the first time I remember feeling like a real cyclist.
7. Did you base any of the Shred Girls on yourself or cyclist you know? As you can tell from my answer to the first question, I’m kind of a comic book nerd! So, of course, Lindsay is a character that I really relate to. But then again, I grew up with mostly guy friends, so I understand Ali and her brothers; and I’m a bit of a perfectionist and super competitive, so I get Jen as well. So I used my own experiences, but I also mixed in traits from girls and women I’d interviewed over the years! Over the last few years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of young riders, and every girl I talked to helped me create the Shred Girls in some way.
My friend Trish, the first girl to compete in a Speed and Style competition at a huge bike festival called Crankworx, is the one who taught me the ‘ponytail trick’ that helps you figure out how to time your jumps.
8. Are you superstitious about anything in cycling? (I have to ride a certain track bike in competition.) Before races, I can usually be spotted tapping my fingers together in a very specific way—it’s not for luck exactly, but it’s how I stay calm at the start! I also race wearing a ring my sister game me that looks sort of like Wonder Woman’s bracelets, and before I had that, I would write something on my hand, like ‘race happy’ or ‘kick butt,’ depending on what I needed to be thinking about!
9. What book(s) inspired you lately? I really enjoyed runner Deena Kastor’s memoir, Let Your Mind Run. And even though I’m technically too old for them, I still love all of Rick Riordan’s Greek mythology books, and for young adult fiction, Moxie is another fantastic newer book. I also still regularly re-read old favorites like The Babysitter’s Club!
10. What advice would you give to a kid who wants to be an author? A Cyclist?The same is true of both: To be an author or to be a cyclist takes a lot of hard work, persistence and determination. In both, you really have to blaze your own trail, there’s not one easy path to success. My best advice is that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. A lot. And if you want to be a cyclist, you have to ride. A lot. And with that, consistency is key—if you write 10,000 words in one week once a year, or you ride 40 hours in one week once a year, and that’s it, that’s not nearly as effective as writing 1,000 words every single week, or riding 4 hours every single week.