Charm City-native and Olympic mountain biker Georgia Gould, who we blogged about last week, rallied in exciting fashion to nab bronze in London. Taking eighth in Beijing, Gould figured to contend for a medal and didn’t disappoint despite an admittedly rocky start (pun intended).
Baltimore caught up with Gould after returning to her current home in Fort Collins, Co. Since 2006, she’s raced professionally for LUNA Women's Mountain Bike Team and now, following her podium performance in London, she’s (re)considering a run for another medal in four years — when she’ll be 36. Why not? German mountain biker Sabine Spitz, who took silver in London, is 40.
When returning to visit her mom, she occasionally rides and trains on Baltimore County’s rural roads and trails, so keep an eye out...
Baltimore: How concerned were you about the slow start? You managed to work your way up pretty quickly...
GG: “I was really worried about it. At the World Cup level, races start fast and the leaders don't wait around. When I was back in the 20s after the start loop, I figured that was the end of my chances for a podium finish. I stuck with it and managed to work my way back up to the leaders, but I didn't have as much left in the tank when I got there.
Baltimore: What was the toughest part of the race?
GG: “I'd say making my way back to the front of the race after a bad start — it was frustrating. Also, I was going slower than the leaders on a couple of the downhills, so I was having to make that time up on the climbs and flat sections. I was playing things really safe out there. This year I've had a few late-race mishaps and I wanted to avoid that!"
Baltimore: Is it possible to put into words what it’s like to have an Olympic medal placed around your neck?
GG: “Yeah, it was surreal. I mean, it's just another bike race (and I've finished 3rd PLENTY of times) but it's also NOT just another bike race. The Olympic race is one day, one chance, all-or-nothing and everyone is peaking and training for that one day. To put it together on that day was incredibly satisfying. On that day, any medal feels like winning."
Baltimore: What was the best part of the Olympic experience in London, specifically? Did you meet any athletes outside of cycling?
GG: “I didn't really get a chance to meet a lot of other athletes. I arrived in London five days before my race and I was staying in a hotel near the venue (the mountain bike race took place about 1.5 hours drive from the athletes village). It was a bummer to choose between having the greatest ‘Olympic experience’ and having the best Olympic race, but I wanted to win a medal."
Baltimore: What’s next in the short-term?
GG: “Now I am at home for a couple weeks before heading back over to Europe for the World Championships which are in Austria. Then I will come home and start racing cyclocross."
Baltimore: Are you going to try to back on the podium in Rio in 2016?
GG: “Before London I would have said no, but now...we'll see...”