There are mountain bikers who ride, and then there are those who absolutely rip. Personifying the winning spirit and charging with every turn, rippers hold nothing back through every crank of the pedal and every second of glorious air time. Rippers are the ones we look up to; they show the rest of us what is humanly possible. Katrina Strand is one of the riders raising the bar, and not just for women, but everyone who rides. Working as a pro athlete while also coaching and training the next generation of mountain athletes from her home in Whistler, Katrina is a leader both on and off the trail.
I had a chance to catch up with Katrina before she was off to Europe for a few weeks.
Steve Andrews: How did you get started mountain biking?
Katrina Strand: Some of my guy friends were into it and I wanted to check it out. My friend Lisa and I borrowed her parent’s valley trail cruisers and brought them up the bike park on a super muddy, rainy day. Not sure how much time we actually spent on the bikes but we were hooked! Next thing I knew I was at the bank getting a loan out so I could buy a bike.
SA: Can you remember when you realized that it’s more than a hobby, and that you have a talent to make it a livelihood?
KS: No, not really. Being so passionate about mountain biking subconsciously dictated my life path. All I knew was that I wanted to spend as much time as possible ripping around the woods on my bike, so I created ways to do this through coaching, film and photo projects, racing and events. Companies within the industry recognized my efforts and wanted to be a part of it.
SA: What’s it like being a pretty girl in such a testosterone-heavy sport? Are there times when you just need to get away from the dudes and chill with the ladies? Or are the blokes ok?
KS: It’s awesome! I like guys! I ride with the guys a lot, but I also have a solid group of girls I ride with too. It makes no difference to me, it’s actually more so about who you are–guy or girl.
SA: How does your life as a trainer cross over to your riding?
KS: Well, I get to train myself! I work hard at the gym so I’m ready to take on the abuse of my busy summers. It’s also been a huge benefit when working through rehab situations. But also, it’s brought together my business, Strand Training, which is all about strength and conditioning coaching and mountain bike coaching. I train all sorts of athletes and people, but I do work with a lot of mountain bikers.
SA: What challenges have you faced along the way?
KS: Long list. It’s hard to make it work in a ‘fringe’ sport. But I’m not scared of challenges, I see them more as hurdles. I can get over them. I just find ways to persevere and keep moving forward.
SA: Favorite place to ride?
KS: My backyard! Squamish, Whistler, Pemby. I’ve ridden all over the world, it doesn’t get any better than this.
SA: What can you say to all the up and comers trying to make a go of it as a pro? In MTB, and also in action sports in general?
KS: The quote I live by is “you’ll find success in those efforts that captivate your heart and soul. Belief fuels passion and passion rarely fails.” Sounds cliche, but keeping it fun is really what it’s all about. That and following your dreams with confidence. If you’ve got that recipe sorted, the rest will fall into place.
KS: Raceface, Maxxis, Santa Cruz Bikes, Fox Suspension, Mavic, Fox helmets, Oakley, e13