Skip to main content

Breck Epic is one of my favorite races in the world. And this year, a week in Breckenridge, Colorado was made even more exceptional with the kick off of the Women’s Cycling Summit. I’m excited to recap this awesome week with you!

I dive deep into the heart-pounding world of racing as I recount my unforgettable experience at Breck Epic. Join me as I take you on a journey through the highs and lows, the victories and lessons learned during this  6-day mountain bike race. From setting process-based goals to navigating the unexpected twists, I’ll share how I approached challenges with grit and grace, all while discovering the profound growth that comes from pushing one’s limits.

Also, I’m thrilled to unwrap the incredible moments from the first-ever Women’s Cycling Summit. A lineup of awe-inspiring speakers, including Rachel Scott, Kate Boyle, and many more, graced the stage with their wisdom and stories. In this episode, I weave together the threads of empowerment, community, and personal triumph that emerged from the summit. 

Plus, I’ll give you a sneak peek into my upcoming Grand Traverse race and my upcoming journey into a graduate program in applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mastery is not something that can be achieved, but rather a process in and of itself
  • The importance of setting process-based goals and having realistic expectations when taking on challenges. 
  • Managing intentional imbalance by planning in advance, leaning on others for help, and practicing flexibility. 
  • The value of stage racing for personal growth, community, and pushing one’s limits. 
  • Highlights and inspiring stories from the speakers at the Women’s Cycling Summit. 



      • Introduction to today’s solo episode. 0:00
      • Routines to help with stress. 3:14
      • Breck Epic and the Women’s Cycling Summit. 5:37
      • How to get more women into cycling? 11:58
      • Setting process-based goals. 14:15
      • Racing for the top three. 20:09
      • Do as much planning in advance as possible. 23:00
      • How to deal with burnout. 26:21
      • Women’s Cycling Summit. 32:39
      • Jenny Smith. 35:11
      • The importance of speaking from the heart. 41:45


If you want to work towards your goals and more, check out my self-paced online course: Moxy & Grit Mindset Academy.

Episode Transcript

Sonya Looney 0:00
Today’s solo episode is about my race experience at Breck Epic this year, and an overview of the highlights from the Women’s Cycling Summit.

Welcome to the Sonya Looney Show. This is a podcast about high performance and wellbeing. And I’m your host, Sonya. And if you’re new around here, I am a world and multi time national champion in mountain biking, and I still race professionally. I’m a health and mental performance coach, a writer, a mom of two little kids, and I own my own business. And if you’re not new around here, welcome. I’m so glad that you’re back. And I’m so grateful that you are a part of this awesome community, and that we get to learn and grow together. Each month I do a solo episode to give me some creative space to play around. Last time I did a moving meditation from my bike so that you could also meditate while you ride your bike along with me. I’ve also done working through a problem in real time on a bike ride with you. And most of the time I pick a topic and do a deep dive into the research and distill it into key takeaways so that you can apply it to your life to two of my recent favorite solo episodes, where I went deep on a topic was number one, how to be a better communicator where I went into the research and got a bunch of different key elements of how to be a better communicator, in your life and in your relationships, and also gleaned key aspects from my coaching practice that I use and on how to be a better communicator. Another one was about mastery being a practice and not a destination and how we can apply mastery and learn about mastery in our lives. And I think the biggest takeaway from people in that one was realizing that mastery is not something that you achieve, but mastery is rather a process in and of itself. If you want to check those out, make sure that you go over to the show notes. Or if you want to see more of my solo episodes, go to Sonya and use the drop down menu to select solo episodes. A lot of these solo episodes come from ideas that I hash out in my newsletter at It was a weekly newsletter. But now it is more about being a monthly newsletter because I have many other commitments including this new master’s degree that I have started in applied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. And I’m really excited to continue to explore topics learned in my master’s degree on this podcast and how we can apply it to performance and well being thank you to those of you who aren’t subscribed to the show. And if you haven’t hit that subscribe button yet, or that follow button, make sure that you do so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And if you’re enjoying the show, please make sure that you share it with your friends as that is the best way to help this information and the show find other people. I also want to give a big thank you to those of you who are supporting my work on Patreon and PayPal, you can find that at Sonya Looney show, this episode is going to be about intentional imbalance, which you’ve heard me talk about before, about managing expectations about doing many things at once. And also some of the key things that I learned from some of these absolutely incredible speakers who came to the women’s cycling Summit. When you’re doing a lot of different things at once. And traveling, it’s important to have some cornerstone of a routine to keep you grounded. And I find this is really important also for my kids. Something that is helpful for us is actually just the routine of our kids nap schedule. And while I can find having a nap schedule, incredibly limiting because you can’t leave the house all day. It also creates a rhythm and some of the other things that I do in my life to create rhythm is making sure that I’m taking care of my health and one of the ways that I do that is taking a multivitamin every single day. Multivitamins are not a replacement for stellar nutrition, but they give me a little bit of insurance to make sure that I’m covering all my bases. And that’s why I trust prep next, not only do I take PrevineX’s multivitamin, but I also give their children’s multivitamin to my kids, the super vites and that’s the name of the vitamins not the name of my kids. I also have been taking their joint health plus as I have a 40 mile Ultra run my very first Ultra run next week. So why Previn X, there’s a ton of different supplement companies out there. There’s about a million multivitamins that you can choose from. But for me, I know that the supplement company is the Wild West and there is no regulation on what you’re taking. So you could be taking a multivitamin and it could have nothing in it that it says it has. So whenever I discovered present X and discover that they have testing done on all of their vitamins, and I’ve seen the testing myself. The vitamins are pharmaceutical grade and they also use the highest quality of vitamin in their multivitamins. And I’ve looked into each of these ingredients because I really care about my health, and it is one of my top priorities. So I wanted to make sure that you knew about present x if you are unsure of what is the best multivitamin to take or maybe you just wanted to switch over. So prevalent X is offering a code to you 15% off using my code Sonya15, SONYA15 to get 15% off your first order, they also have a 30 day money back guarantee. So if for some reason you don’t experience all the benefits of energy and vitality that I’ve been experiencing, making these a cornerstone of my health, then you can get your money back. And lastly, I also have a great program called give health get health where every present X purchase you make will provide a bottle of vitamins to a child in need. So to me, if you take a multivitamin taking President X would be a no brainer and make sure you use my code Sonya 15. It supports the show it supports you go over to and start creating health. All right on to talking about the Breck Epic and the Women’s cycling Summit. So the Breck Epic was the very first stage race I ever did in 2010. The first time I did it, I think it was the second year of the event maybe. And I raised a coed duo with Jeff kerkhove. And we won the race. I went back in 2011 and raced the solo pro women category and won the race as well. So that was the foray into stage racing for me the Breck Epic as a koa duo and then doing it as a solo the next year. I returned to Breck Epic last year, and 22 It was my first stage race back after having two kids. And again for my fourth time this year and in 2023, so I am no stranger to the Breck Epic. I’ve done many races in Breckenridge, Colorado, the Breck 100 was my very first 100 mile mountain bike race. I don’t know exactly what year that was probably around 2010 or so. And I’ve done the firecracker 50 multiple times, I even got married in Breckenridge, Colorado in 2014. So clearly, it’s a special place for me. I sat down and did a count. Finally, as to how many stages I’ve done. And I’m not even sure if this is the correct number if I’ve left any out, but I’ve done 37 stage races, that’s a lot of stage races racked up. And it doesn’t seem like I’ve done that many. But whenever I sit down and I list out stage races, by country and continent, it adds up. So I can say that the Breck Epic is one of the best stage races in the world. Now, let me tell you why I find it really special. Number one community, the number one rule of Breck Epic, to put it in politically correct and child friendly terms is to be nice and be a kind and be a good human to others, be a steward of the land. And that ethos has been the thread that has held Breck Epic together for 15 years. So when you’re on the start line of a race, knowing that everyone around you are your comrades, and they are all they’re doing it together, and that they’re your competitors, but they’re also there to make you better. That’s a really great environment to be in. And this year made it extra special, because it was the biggest women’s professional field they’ve ever had the most competitive professional women’s field with everybody being a very accomplished racer. And out of the pro field, they had a number of competitors. So they had a 25% female field this year compared to a 7% Female field last year. That’s massive. And the Breck Epic is a premier event. And we’re hoping that it can become the premier event for women moving into the future. The great thing about a strong women’s field is that it’s great racing, it’s great watch, it’s great to watch the racing, it’s great to hear about the racing because a lot of different movement is happening every single day in the general classification. And not only is the movement happening, where everybody is pushing each other and different people are placing differently every single day. But everybody was encouraging and competitive at the same time. And a lot of times people think that competition needs to be cutthroat, that you have to look at your competitors as enemies. And that just wasn’t happening in our field. And we were happy to push all of us to be better because we know that a rising tide lifts all boats. And this was such a great example in the women’s field this year. I’ll see if I can list off about 10 women in the pro women’s field this year. Erin Huck won the race. She has a 17 month old baby and she and I will be recording a podcast or have already recorded a podcast at the women’s cycling summit about parenthood and being a professional athlete. She’s also an Olympian. Then we have KC Armstrong who has won many races and who has such a great attitude and vibe about her. Then there was fellow 24 hour World Champion Kate Boyle and also bat country guru who has set many fk T’s at all of these different bikepacking and backcountry events. And she has been making a switch over to stage racing. And she was a speaker at the women’s cycling Summit. She’s been on this podcast as well and was highly encouraging in the race. I got to ride with her a lot and she rips on the downhill too. So it was super cool to see that it was only her second ever stage race and she came third overall in this incredible women’s field. Evelyn Dong was also in the race also a winner of many many races. And if you know women’s mountain biking you’ve heard Evelyn dogs Name. There was myself. So I’m basically just going through the overall GC and thinking about the people. So I was there, you obviously know who I am. So I don’t need to talk about that. Andrea Dvorak, who is a Colorado writer, she’s a coach.

I believe she’s a former professional road racer, super fast and fit woman. Then we had one of my favorite people in the world, Jenny Smith, and Jenny also was a speaker at the women’s cycling Summit. And she has been to Worlds in three different sports. So she has been to worlds for distance running for X Tara, where she placed fourth and sixth, and also for mountain biking and Jenny dominated the front of the women’s cross country scene for a very long time. And I’ve known Jenny forever, and now she is a head coach of Nika in Colorado and is really making a big difference than we had imagined Smith from Australia, somebody who I’ve been looking forward to meeting because she has done a lot of the same stage races that I’ve done and is really passionate about stage racing and marathon racing. She is also a writer for marathon MTB, and it was so cool to meet her at this race. She also proctored the interview that you’re going to hear in the future with Aaron Huck and I and it was so great to have journalists asking us the questions for that podcast. Also in our field was Starla Tetra green, and Starla is a podcast guest who you’ll hear from next week on the show. And Starla is incredibly inspiring. She is a former pro road racer, she’s done a lot of gravel racing, and now she is hooked on mountain bike stage racing. She also has the organization distance to empty where she helps inspire and uplift other women and support them into being better racers. And we also had Alex Pavani, who is a professional enduro rider and I met her at the trans BC enduro stage race way, gosh, how long ago was that? 2016 or 2017, maybe somewhere in there. But Alex is super cool. And it was great to have her on the start line as well. So that’s a lot of really star powered women who are supporting one another. And I think it’s really important to highlight each and every one of them. The reason why I listed every single top pro women in our field, is because you only hear about the top three, but every single woman on that start line had an incredible story. And we heard from a lot of them at the women’s cycling Summit, which I’ll talk about in a few minutes. Something that I am passionate about when it comes to women’s racing and women’s cycling is how we can make the pie bigger. And that really comes down to making sure that everybody gets their story told, not just the people who are at the front of the race, because everybody has a story. Everyone has been at the front of a race in this field. And generally speaking, how do we get more women into cycling, it’s by telling their stories. So that’s one of the reasons I was really excited about the women’s cycling summit so that we could help intermediate riders up level their mindset and their skills, and how they approach the sport. The co founder of the women’s cycling Summit, and the founder of Breck Epic who was on this podcast not too long ago, the podcast was titled The Ark of the Breck Epic with a history of it if you want to hear from Mike McCormick that’s linked up in the show notes. But he attributes the 25% participation rate in the Breck Epic to the women’s cycling Summit. So that is a really cool way to help bring more women’s participation to racing. But I’m already getting ahead of myself with the women’s cycling summit so Breck Epic. This was my fourth Breck Epic. And initially, I thought maybe I would just do the three day because I was doing the women’s cycling Summit, I’m the co founder, I was in charge of making sure that everything went smoothly at the race. And during the event, the women’s cycling Summit is a separate event from Breck Epic, but it was sharing a lot of the space. I also knew that I would have my one and three year old in tow, but also have the support of my husband and parents. So how could I do at all? How could I do the six day Breck Epic, which is something that I reached for after thinking about doing the three day? How can I retrace a six day stage race, have and spend time with my two toddlers and host the women’s cycling summit and recover? And I’ll tell you what, it took a little bit of courage to do. So it took being able to show up to a start line of a race knowing that I might not be at my very, very best. And that doesn’t mean that I can’t give my best for what I have that day. But I certainly wasn’t going to be approaching the stage race like I’ve approached any other stage race. I wasn’t creating a handicap for myself for my performance or making excuses in any way. But how can I set realistic expectations? And how could I have fun at this race while doing all these things and not getting too overwhelmed? I’m going to tell you just how I did that. So number one when it comes to showing up to any race, regardless of the circumstances around that race It’s setting process based goals. And you can listen to my ultimate guide to goal setting post and podcast, you can read the post, you can listen to the podcast linked up in the show notes, if you want to learn how to do that for yourself. But that means setting a goal that has nothing to do with an outcome and setting goals that are within my control on a daily basis. Some of those goals included riding the downhill as best I could, because I knew that I live at zero feet. And I’ve lived in race at altitude before and I’ve lived at sea level and race at altitude before so having realistic expectations about how I can be racing the climbs. And what that’s going to be like versus the dissents was something to think about. So there were certain days and certain segments of dissents that I chose to push really hard on, and other days, where I chose to take it easy on some of the dissents because of fatigue from the climbs or because of the remoteness of the dissents. Another process based goal that I chose to set which I set it every single race is to make sure that I really enjoy talking and being with the people that I’m racing around. A beautiful thing about stage racing is it’s multiple days in a row, and you end up racing around some of the same people every day. And I found that you can make some really great friends and connections through that. And the primary reason for coming to Colorado and spending all this time here isn’t to win races, but it is to plug back into a community that is so deeply ingrained into who I am, and to continue to provide for that community. And to feel good because I get energy from that community. So one of the ways that I did that was connecting with people racing around me and with people who are volunteering at the race. And the third process basical I’ll share with you, which is probably the most challenging is to be curious about my experience. So that could mean being curious about feeling frustrated, or being curious about breathing really hard. How can I apply curiosity to everything that I was doing on a daily basis, and that is a more broad process goal. But it’s something to think about whenever you are taking on a challenge, because you might have heard the quote from Ted Lassa, which I think he took from somewhere else, be curious, not judgmental, and it is so easy to be judgmental of ourselves, to make excuses, to victimize ourself to look how it’s easier for everybody else. It’s so much easier for everybody else. And it is for me having that type of mindset, which I can have some times. So how can I use curiosity instead of judgment on a daily basis in the race? And the last goal was to be proud of my performance. And how do you be proud of your performance, it’s by giving your best and making the best of every single situation. I’ll give you an example of something that happened in the race. So one of the days I had a flat tire, and it’s funny, I don’t get flat tires very often. I think the last time I had a flat tire was at the Breck Epic last year that races is notable for having sharp pointy rocks. And there are many people who had the misfortune of a flat tire. And I’ve talked about flat tires, when it comes to mindset and positive psychology and your explanatory style and how you talk to yourself whenever something like that happens whenever a piece of adversity happens. And I had been moving up that day. And I was feeling good. And it just happened. And I was so proud that I did not have a negative spiraling mindset around the flat tire, I remained calm, I made the best of the situation. And I really wasn’t that sad about the flat tire. Of course, I didn’t want it to happen. But I also was able to say, hey, that’s part of racing, many people had flat tires today. So there’s a lot of different techniques from my mental toolbox that I applied there. And I was really proud of that. Something that I could have done better was that after I got that flat tire for the remainder of the week, which was four more stages, I was a bit gun shy and a bit nervous about getting another flat tire. And I let myself think about it too much. And that resulted in running way too much tire pressure most days that resulted in staring at sharp rocks, which I probably shouldn’t have been staring at, and wasting energy being worried about getting another flat tire. So that is room for improvement for

myself. Something I also wanted to talk about was expectations. And I’ve also recorded a solo podcast episode called the expectation paradox, which is fascinating to research. And I highly recommend you check that out. I also recorded a podcast with author David Robson called the expectation effect. And it’s more about how our expectations impact our physiology and our outcomes. So if you’re curious about that, check those out, but my expectations coming into the race. So again, I mentioned I live at sea level and most of the women in that field that I talked about live at altitude. So that puts me at a disadvantage and It’s not a victim mentality. It’s just a fact that if you don’t live at altitude, then you just are going to have a harder time performing as if you did live at altitude. At least that’s the case for me. So I kind of knew that I wouldn’t be racing for the top three in this race, because that just wasn’t a realistic expectation. There was space in my mind that maybe I could get on the podium one day, or maybe that could happen. I could do well on the in the top three. But I knew that that probably wasn’t realistic. And there’s a lot of questions that people had around that they were asking me, am I limiting myself by thinking that, and I don’t think that I’m limiting myself by having realistic expectations. And I think creating space to allow something like that to happen. But also to just do your best with what you have, and not get discouraged. If you are not where you think you could be, is really important and understanding what those limiters are. Someone asked me today about positive psychology and, and sort of the unrealistic thinking, if I just believe in myself and think that I’m going to win, then I’m being positive. But there’s a difference between thinking something that probably isn’t going to happen. And being realistic with your expectations and allowing space to exceed those expectations. I’ll let you in on a secret, I was surprised to even come fifth place in that women’s field. And that was a nice surprise at the end to grab that last spot on the final podium. In a way, it was almost relaxing to know that I wouldn’t be necessarily battling for the top three in the race, especially with all of the other things that I had going on. There’s also something important that I’ve learned from doing 37 stage races around the world with varying conditions, varying amounts of organization involves, and that is how to be flexible, how to roll with the punches with all the things going on. And that’s how I knew that I would be able to manage all of these different things at once racing a six day stage race where you’re out there for four to four and a half hours per day, coming home, taking a quick shower, eating, turning right back around and going and we’re running the women’s cycling Summit, coming back, taking care of the kids getting making sure they’re fed, making sure they’re getting the bed making sure they’re getting love, then after they go to bed, making sure that I’m getting everything ready for the next day to go again, that’s a lot for one person to handle. And again, I had hoped for sure. But I knew that because of the experience that I’ve had and the ability to manage the chaos, that I’d still be able to show up and not get completely overwhelmed by it. And that’s a muscle. That’s a practice. And I think that comes with not having to not needing to have everything be perfect, not having everything being lined up exactly as you think that they should. And that’s something that I have to practice on a daily basis in my life, I often get frustrated because I have a list of things that I want to get done. And a way that I think things should happen. And they just often don’t happen that way. Because of my life circumstances. Whenever you have little kids, you’re running a business you’re training, it’s just that’s just how life is. So having that flexibility that I’ve had to practice, for better or for worse, every single day really helped me in the race, whenever I had very little time to have the structure and organization that I wanted moving forward. Another thing that I did to make sure that I was able to manage all of these moving parts at the same time while I was racing, was do as much planning in advance as I could and leaning on other people. So Matt and I made sure that especially Matt, I made sure that there was food made in advance before the race began, making sure that I had everything that I could control all the things that I could have organized ready to go and having a plan for if something like a flat tire happened where I needed to, you know, work on my bike or have something like that go on, leaning on others asking Matt to take my drop back in the morning or to stay late whenever we had our film festival, our film Night at the women’s cycling summit that ended at 945 at night, asking for help. That is so key whenever you’re trying to do a lot of different things. Another thing was making sure that I checked in with everybody at the women’s cycling summit before it began. So having as much advanced planning as I could. I had emails that had been pre scheduled to go out every single day with the schedule to everybody attending the event. I had already emailed all of the speakers, I touched base with everybody to make sure that everything would be well oiled. And there were things that came up that didn’t go as planned and I just had to deal with them as they came up. And one of the things that I’ve said about confidence and I was speaking more in terms of racing, but I think confidence in general in life is competence isn’t knowing that everything is going to be awesome that you’re going to crush it at everything. Competence is knowing that whenever things come up, that you’re going to be able to deal with them appropriately. That applies to the race course that up applies to running an event that applies to anything that you’re doing confidence is I’m going to be able to handle whatever comes my way. Another thing that I think is key when it comes to stage racing and taking on big things in life is understanding what your strengths are. This is a foundation in positive psychology. It’s something I’ve talked a lot about probably on this podcast and in a lot of my speeches, but you should hop on over to the via strengths survey and figure out what your top strengths are. And then ask yourself, How can I apply these to everything that I’m doing, and that is something that I was really focused on in the event. And my top three strengths are gratitude, hope and perspective. So how can I apply gratitude, hope and perspective to all of my challenges so that I can make the most of them. Something else that came up for me was that before the race, I actually wasn’t excited about racing, I was kind of dreading the race, I had said to my husband, like my parents are here, it would just be more fun, you know, to have their support with the kids. And then for you and I to just go have adventures together. And I think that came from being a little bit burned out, I mentioned all these things that I was doing to prepare. And in addition to that, I’ve been working my butt off with this podcast, because I started this master’s program. And I wanted to have tons of episodes already in the chamber so that I could figure out my workload with my masters and managing everything else. So that I wasn’t behind on the podcast as well. Today’s an exception. So you know, I was a bit tired and just realizing, Oh, this

is me feeling a little bit burnt out. This isn’t me not being excited about the race, being able to label that and recognize that was really powerful for me, because then I was able to realize, well, once the race starts, I think everything will snap into gear, and I’ll be excited. And that’s exactly what happened. Another thing that I was curious about was, am I still going to be interested in racing and getting the best add on myself if I’m not racing for the top three. I’ve had a very challenging summer of racing. A lot of the races haven’t gone my way. Quick recap of the year was I started my season racing the Well it started with a running race, but then in February, but then I did the Pisco stage race in March, or I guess it was early April. And I was sick for two weeks where I couldn’t do anything. I literally did not get out of bed to do any training for two weeks in March and thought it was pointless to even show up to the physical stagers because I didn’t do the work. But my husband reminded me that I don’t show up because I want to win races I show up because I like racing. I like being part of a community. I like exploring, I like adventure on my bike. So with that, we packed up our family traveled across the country, and I did the Pisco stage race, and I won. And that was awesome. That was very unexpected. But it kind of set a tone for the year that was hard to live up to. After that, I did a bunch of travel after that I did a speaking engagement, I went to sea otter, and then I got COVID. And I was pretty sick. Again, it was the second time I got COVID. And it really set me back. And I got back to training finally, and I want a running race. But then the running race trying to balance these two sports completely destroyed me for most of the summer. So the races that I showed up to on the consecutive weekends after that running race, were very dissatisfying, I couldn’t push myself, all I was doing was just going through the motions pedaling through the race, because I was too tired to race. And that kind of shook my confidence a little bit that I was able to show up and do well or to even feel proud of my effort because I couldn’t push myself to a race effort. And the results weren’t bad results that I got by any stretch. But I just wasn’t proud of the effort I put out because I knew that I was capable of so much more. And then I went to the high cascades 100 In July, which was a really fun community experience. I did a free speaking engagement there and got to connect with a lot of people. But I still just like couldn’t really push myself in the race. And it was again, very dissatisfying to have to just grind my way through a race without really being able to rise to the occasion. So having all of that going in the background leading up to the Breck Epic made it really challenging for me to be excited about the race. And I was beginning to wonder, do I still like to race my bike like if I can’t push myself Do I still like to race. But there’s a big difference between being too tired to rise to the occasion in a race and actually give a race effort, versus giving a race effort and not not getting a result that you want. So I guess I’ll say that again, for more clarity. Most of the summer, I was too tired from trying to combine two sports, running and cycling and trying to race in both of those. So that I was not able to push myself to a race pace effort in those races. And that was very dissatisfying. Versus at the Breck Epic. I actually came around, and I felt like I could push myself, I could get my heart rate up. I felt like I was giving a solid race effort. And that alone was enough to motivate me and make me feel excited. And so not racing for the top three actually didn’t matter. And I was worried that it would matter but it didn’t impact my motivation at all and I I’m just so excited to be out there giving a race effort, no matter where that laid me. Another thing I really enjoyed about the Breck Epic was hearing other people’s stories about the things that they had to do in order to train for the race or to make it happen. And that’s why it’s important, I think, to sign up for big things. Because if you never sign up for it and put your name down, it makes it harder to make everything else in your life lock into place. And that’s why racing is so magnetic, because all of a sudden, it’s this thing on the horizon with a deadline, and it forces you to get your life organized and deprioritize in certain ways for a certain period of time. I’m racing the Grand Traverse next weekend in Crested Butte, Colorado. So it’s a 40 mile trail running race. And then the next day is a 40 mile mountain bike race. And the category I’m doing is the combined sport time. So it takes both days combines the time and that’s how it determines the placings in the race. And I needed to sign up for a 40 mile distance because I’ve never run anywhere near 40 miles and I the most that run now is 25. And I’m a bit intimidated by the start line and by how long it’s going to take and what’s going to happen. But that’s exactly the reason why I’m doing it. I want that question mark, I want that uncertainty, and I want the learning that’s going to come with it. So signing up for something that scares you a little bit can help everything else lock into place. And hearing people’s stories around why they did the Breck Epic and how their lives change as a result of it was really cool to hear. Something else that you’ve heard me talk about a lot is the importance of looking for and experiencing positive emotions because that is one of the key elements of well being. And one of those intense positive emotions that many of us experienced at the breakout pick was a Dasher Keltner is a researcher and has recently written a book about all that I really enjoyed. And he describes all as the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world. There are many different types of art that we can experience. And maybe I will cover that in a solo episode talking about some of this research that I’ve read out of the University of California at Berkeley. But experiencing on the Breck Epic is something that is all encompassing. You’re exhausted, you’ve gotten up to treeline, some hiking, some biking, you are breathing, very thin air, and all of a sudden you just look around, and your brain can’t even comprehend what you’re seeing. And for me that shows up as getting completely choked up and laughing and crying at the same time. That happened to me multiple times. And I’m not alone in that I

saw several other people post how that overwhelming feeling of awe would take over their bodies and evoke emotional responses whenever they got above treeline in the race. I’m trying to think about what else I can tell you about Breck Epic as it’s only been, I guess it’s been about five days since I finished it now. But if you have anything you want to know about Breck Epic, the race itself, or my experience, or how to train for a stage race, or why you should sign up for one, feel free to contact me. I am very passionate about stage racing and think that everybody should do it. You don’t have to be a pro racer, you don’t have to be fast, you just want to have to have an adventure. And that’s what it is all about. So let’s move on to the women’s cycling summit, the tagline was turned intention into action. And the whole point of it was to help women uplevel their performance and their mindset so that they can do great things in life. And there are so many of us, especially women who want to do things, but we come up with reasons why we can’t do it, or why we shouldn’t do it. Maybe we feel guilty for doing it. Maybe we don’t believe that we can or maybe somebody told us that we can’t. And I wanted to grab a bunch of different speakers who have transcended barriers and overcome limits in their own lives, to talk about what that’s been like for them, and to bring everybody up around them and tell them how they can do it too. I also had a panel with some very powerful speakers sharing their stories about how they got into cycling, and some of the huge challenges that they’ve had to face and overcome and came out the other side. All of these were recorded, I did an Instagram Live for all of them. So if you want to listen, you can go over to my Instagram and it’s at Sonya Looney, and it’ll be really obvious which reels are from the women’s cycling Summit. And I encourage you to listen to them because a lot of these speakers have so much knowledge to impart. So a few of the speakers we had we had Rachel Scott who is a fractional C suite executive, entrepreneur, investor and athlete and she’s created many women’s communities including women’s naked racing, Babs outside, and she continues to mentor women and she’s also finished every single fourteener in Colorado. And her talk was really inspiring and really interesting. She’s also one of my best friends so I highly encourage you to listen to that one. We had Kate Boyle, who I talked about earlier, but she discovered bikepacking, which dominoed into pursuing long backpacking expeditions around the world. And she has been 24 hour world champion. But then she had a traumatic car accident, which she talks about in her keynote. And it ultimately led her to where she is now. And she’s had to overcome so much not even knowing if she’d be able to walk or get on a bike again. And she is very passionate about going deeper and connecting to places and people and expanding her limits. Another speaker we had that I’ve mentioned earlier is Jenny Smith. Jenny Smith is from New Zealand, but she lives in Gunnison, Colorado with her husband Brian and her daughter Jade. Her daughter is 10 years old. She had her daughter at the age of 40. And she was one of the first women that I saw to have a baby in her professional career and continue racing. And she has been a really great example for me. She has a 23 career 23 year career as a pro cyclist, a triathlete. And as a cycling and triathlon coach. I mentioned she’s been to worlds for three different sports and she’s a seven time World Championships team member in mountain biking. Now, Ginni is continuing to race in the pro field and she also owns Jenny Smith coaching. When people come to me looking for a coach. She is one of the people that I highly recommend. So she specializes in personalized coaching for endurance athletes. She’s also the United teen program manager for Crested Butte Devo and the head coach for the Crested Butte Devo High School race team, and a Colorado mountain league coaches skills instructor. So Jenny is very busy. And in her speech, she talked about how important it is to give teenagers autonomy and responsibility. There is no substance abuse policy for their cycling team. And then she’s also talked about her evolution, as she is 50 years old and what that’s been like for her over the years and how she’s had to change how she does things. So you can check that one out. I’m going to try to pull the audio from all of these Instagram lives with the quality is pretty low. And I was trying to figure out a way to record what these amazing women were saying so I could put it on my podcast. And I actually think that in future versions of the summit, we might do an online version. It was really hard to try to stream these talks without a professional team behind me in order to do that. So okay, so more of the speaker. So Aaron Huck, who won the Breck Epic this year. She’s also a sixth time elite, US national mountain bike champion, Pan American champion and Tokyo Olympian. She also has balanced her career as an engineer and program manager in the medical device industry alongside being a professional racer. So she’s always had a job on the side, or rather, maybe pro mountain biking has been her hobby or job on the side. And her engineering career has been a highlight. And 2022 She became a mom and she has a 17 month old son. And she continues to race at the elite level now balancing the three roles as she pursues her goals on and off the bike. And we recorded a podcast where Imogen Smith asked us many questions about motherhood and identity and what that’s all been like for us. And if you want to listen to it now, actually, I don’t think we did an Instagram Live of that one. So you’ll just have to wait for that to come out on the podcast and that one will have great audio quality. We also had URI Carlson, who’s a registered dietitian and endurance athlete based in Breckenridge, Colorado, and she is the founder of inner wild nutrition and the creator of fuel your potential which is a one on one nutrition program that teaches cyclists and runners what, when and how to eat so that they can make intentional food choices to meet their needs. And her presentation was so interesting, it was about how to craft your diet, how to eat before, during and after, and some things to consider and even some female specific things to consider in nutrition. She made those slides available to the people that came to the women’s cycling Summit. And you can reach out to her she’s at URI Carlson on Instagram if you want to check that out and make sure that you go and listen to that Instagram Live of her. We also have Karina Hamill, who is a co founder of bimbo. She has also been a podcast guest which is how we met. She’s a former NCAA Nordic skier and endurance aficionado with a passion for product development, and her worlds collided when she realized there wasn’t a good solution for drinking water while writing. So she broke the mold and made the first stainless steel bottle with a flow rate fit for all outdoor enthusiasts. And these bibble bottles are incredible. I use them all the time. Having spent a year abroad at the age of 16. It sparked Karina has enthusiasm and curiosity for cultures around the world. And she had the desire to work internationally. And that led her to footwear development which she talks about in her keynote, her journey as an entrepreneur and how all of these different pieces lined up for her as she learned about manufacturing and developed relationships with these folks. cities around the world, and then how she took the leap with her husband and created Bebo. As a mom of two young children. She has a five year old and a two year old. And she loves challenges. So it was really inspiring to hear how she takes risks and she had three key takeaways in her keynote, and risk taking was one of them. We also had Jen dice on our panel who brings unmatched energy and focus to her work each and every day. If you have been in Colorado, I’m sure you’ve heard of her. She’s taken her bike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. She is the CEO of peopleforbikes. And before that, she was the leader of Team Inba for a decade, so she sat on our panel and talked about people for bikes. We also had Starla, Tedder green on our panel, who was raised professionally on the road for 15 years, and she has won so many races, including winning the USA Chris overall, in 2019. She transitioned to racing gravel and mountain bikes and created distance to empty which is a not for profit program that she and her husband started to helps get Colorado base women on bikes and to the start line. On the panel, she talked about her diagnosis of getting MS and having a lesion on her spine. And what that looks like now whenever she approaches, challenges and races, and it was really empowering story to hear, and you’ll hear her on the podcast next week as well. We also had Katie Compton sit in on our panel. And Katie has raised at the very top of the cyclocross stage for two decades, she had a lot of interesting insight to bring about what it means to have to transition and pivot to a completely different career and how hard that is. There was a lot of tears shed by our speakers, because they were so passionate about their stories. And what I loved about listening to all of these speakers and hosting them, was that it wasn’t just people standing up there saying something they’ve said 1000 times it was people truly speaking from the heart and wanting to make a difference. And that also created a magnetism in the women’s racing field, because a lot of these women came to me and volunteered to be a speaker at the women’s cycling Summit, even though they had their stage race that they were really focused on racing. And that meant a lot to me to see that there was so much more to these women outside of racing. And I already knew that, but to have somebody come and volunteer, I would never want to ask some of the other pro racers to take time away from their race to come speak. And they all wanted to so that was really cool. Other parts of the women’s cycling summit included some clinics. For me, in my mind, the women’s cycling Summit is a personal development conference for women. So the speaking was the highlight for me. But there are people that requested tech clinics and group rides and things like that. I didn’t want the women’s cycling summit to be a writing Summit. There’s plenty of other women’s festivals that have awesome rides, and tech clinics and things like that. But we wanted to offer it as something to do in the morning for people that were looking for that so we had tech clinics from Orange seal and Yeti cycles. To learn how to set up your suspension or how to change a tire. We had some social rides, we had Cindy Huang, who’s incredible engineer, teach people how to load GPS files onto their bike computers, and then take them out on a route finding ride. We had Jacob from Shimano showing people how to work on their bike. We also had yoga being taught by Leslie Glen, who is a former professional snowboarder, so there was no shortage of things happening. And we also had a film night where we featured one of my films. And we also featured blood Road, which was an Emmy Award winning film by Rebecca rush. And Rebecca, actually zoomed in using zoom and talk to us for about 10 minutes. So it was really cool to see her and her that Rebecca’s Private Idaho is going to be starting shortly. So just having so many cool women out there wanting to make a difference and some of the comments that we’ve received after the women’s cycling Summit, seeing the potential for this event, and what it’s going to do in the future. The idea is to do this every year, and maybe to do it more than one time and to make it portable and to feature and highlight many women around the country and hopefully around the world so that we can help people move forward. Another vision that I have for the women’s cycling Summit is having an industry day. And that was something that I was hoping to put together this year but couldn’t quite execute on. And we often hear of all of these brands in the cycling industry saying how they want to support women, but in my experience, the only one to support a very small cross section of women. And that is also something that I heard from some of our speakers. So I want to get the industry in one room or some key decision makers in the industry and hear how they’re supporting women’s cycling. What that means for their brands because ultimately, a lot of these brands care about their bottom line as they should so talking about how we can make the pie bigger for women, how we can create more opportunity for women and maybe help some of these brands understand ways that women can make an impact in ways that maybe they haven’t thought of before. Want to give a big thank you and shout out to Mike McCormick, who is my co founder and the women’s cycling Summit. He handled all of the operations of this event to make sure that we had professional looking logos and tents and that we had space and everything was ready to go. He made sure that everything was set up for us. And he did all that while managing the Breck Epic because he is the also the founder of Breck Epic, and it is no small task to put on a six day stage race. And to add on a women’s cycling summit and be a part of that, on top of doing the race is a really big feat. And Mike is very supportive of women’s cycling, I was really excited last year at the Breck Epic, we had a short night, a panel where myself, Ekaterina Nash and Rebecca gross all sat down and said, Hey, let’s let’s see why women are not coming to this race or what their barriers are in cycling. And then I told Mike about my idea for the women’s cycling summit that I purchased the domain name from Crash, I don’t even know how long it’s been minimum, six years, maybe longer than that. And then I had been sitting on this idea, but it was something that I couldn’t do my by myself. So I was so excited whenever he wanted to partner with me on this, and it’s gonna be really cool to see where we can take it. Something else that I wanted to say before I sign off is thank you, thank you to everybody who came up to me and said that they listened to this podcast, or that the work that I’ve done has touched them in some way that meant so much to me, because I do a lot of this work kind of in my office by myself. And I don’t get to see the impact that it has on the world. And I can’t tell you how meaningful that is, whenever I hear from you, or whenever I see you. So thank you so much to all of you who came up to me and told me that I might have looked like a deer in headlights a couple of times, I think there’s one guy where I was just trying to order some food at a restaurant. And I thought I was in his way in line. And he was actually coming to tell me that he listened to the podcast. So I was a little bit surprised and really flattered. So thank you if you’re listening. And also the Colorado cycling community is my home. It’s where I grew up racing, I only raced in New Mexico for two years before I moved to Colorado. And Colorado is where I figured out who I wanted to be. And where I got the courage to go after my dreams because I saw other like minded people doing the same things. So it always means so much to me to come back, and racing Colorado. And to get cheers from all of you.

I’m so touched by it that it brings me to tears. And I have to pause the podcast, when I’m recording this whenever I am just thinking back to that. So thank you so much. There was someone at an aid station that yelled at me, this is your home as I went by, and I cried for about five minutes after that, because I just miss the Colorado cycling community so much. It’s such a special group of people. And I’m so grateful to be a part of it. And this is my home and to be able to come back to it. And also to give back to it and as many ways as I can is really meaningful for me. So with that, that is a good summary of the Breck Epic and the women’s cycling Summit. If there’s questions that you have, or something that I didn’t cover, please feel free to reach out to me on my website, Sonya or on Instagram, and I’d love to hear from you. And next up is the Grand Traverse. So as I mentioned, the 40 mile trail running race and the 14 mile mountain bike race. I’m excited about this, because this is a door that I’m about to open a door that is laced with curiosity, and excitement and uncertainty and a whole different community. And it’s been a real challenge to train for ultra running and to train to be an Elite Pro mountain biker at the same time this year, and it’s come with setbacks and challenges and doubt. But everything I’ve been working for this year is culminating with this Grand Traverse race. I’m excited to see if I like ultra running. Because I’ve I haven’t done an ultra race before. And if I do like ultra running, what that is going to do for me because I miss international adventures on my bike. I raced around the world for a really long time before having kids. And it was my choice to not continue to race internationally as much with little kids around because I want to be home and I want to see them. So being able to find that question mark that adventure that thing that I’m not really sure what’s going to happen whenever I go and I don’t know what to expect. Ultra running is checking that box for me right now. And having that beginner’s mindset and going to the running store today and figuring out like oh, like what’s a good running hat or oh, this Body Glide stuff, I better buy some of that. I’m excited about that. And I’m excited to see now what’s going to happen. I have aspirations in Ultra running to complete other events in probably the 50 and 100 mile distance but I have to make sure that I like ultra running first before I Git commit to something like that running has been a great add on to my cycling and has helped me through some very challenging times, especially during postpartum with my son, my first child. And it’s helped me not burn out, because I’ve been riding my bike six days a week for almost 20 years. So having some freedom and flexibility to do something different some days and to go new places, and to experience new things like being a really bad downhill technical runner. It’s been really fun and really refreshing. So I’m just looking forward to this. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it. And right after that, I fly straight to Philadelphia, for immersion week for my master’s in applied positive psychology, which is also a huge momentum shift and big change in my life that I’m really looking forward to. If you know, my work, or listen to this podcast, you know, that I’ve been talking about and researching and interviewing people on positive psychology for a very long time. So to become an expert in this field, and to get to meet all of my heroes, I get to go to Martin Seligman, his house, that’s gonna be so cool to meet and actually get to have one of my instructors be the person who invented the field of positive psychology in 1998. And how that is going to inform my work moving forward and how I can move the needle and shift the perspective in what it means to have well being in performance. So in a nutshell, that’s everything that’s going on. I’m so glad you’re still here listening. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this podcast. Please don’t forget to leave us a review if you are getting something out of it. And as always with you on this journey of personal growth, adventure and our mission to be better every day. I’ll see you right back here next week.

Leave a Reply