Real Life Shred Girl: Erica Leonard

I met Erica Leonard a couple years ago when she was just starting out as a junior racer in Ontario, though she’d already been riding for a while. I’ve been super impressed with Erica’s dedication to the sport and her maturity as a racer and as a girl as I’ve gotten to know her, and she’s someone I point to as an amazing role model for young athletes. I’ve gotten to spend a ton of time with her at training camps and at races, and she’s also just a super fun girl to hang out with! So, I’m excited for everyone to get to know her. Let’s dive in!

Why did you start riding bikes?

I first started riding bikes… honestly I don’t remember when it started. Biking has always been in my life, I could tell you I was finished with the training wheels when I was 4, the day after my younger brother ditched them! Competitive much? Lol.

What was your favorite part?

My favourite part of biking was the unstoppable feeling I had whenever I was with my bike. I just felt so confident with my bike… I used to pretend my bike was alive and that we were best friends conquering the world. At some level, I still get that feeling on my bike to this day.

What was the hardest part?

The hardest pet part about cycling was dealing with not seeing my biking friends over the winter. In Canada we have to put the bikes away for a couple of months while our winter takes over and things get snowed in. I always missed seeing my friends and ripping around on our bikes!

What made you choose to focus on MTB?

I chose to focus on mountain biking because I loved the feeling of riding technical elements and being able to handle big rocks or obstacles that I was terrified of! Another reason why I love mountain biking so much is because sometimes it’s not about who is the fittest person that goes the fastest, it’s also about who can ride their bike the fastest.

What was the best tip or trick you’ve ever been told?

The best trick I’ve ever been told… for the girls only! Boobs to the tubes! When you’re climbing if you bring your chest as close as you can to your handle bars or, in the direction of your front wheel, the more traction you’ll have. Boobs to the Tubes is just a funny way to remind yourself to do it!

Proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment was a couple years ago, I was racing at Hardwood Ski and Bike, my home course. I was having the race of my life when I had one of the biggest crashes I’ve ever had. Luckily I wasn’t hurt but I was pretty shaken up when I landed from falling. It took me at least two minutes to gather myself and fix my bike which took a beating. As I was doing all of this, I watched second place ride by me. I was trying my best to remain calm, I kept telling myself it’s ok, it’s ok. I finally was able to hop on my bike again and took off. I remember there was a moment when I debated whether or not trying would make a difference in my finish, I was in second now, the race was almost over, why bother? Well, I slapped that mentality out as fast as it had entered my mind and powered through the rest of that race. I ended up gaining back 1st place and becoming National Champion, all because I decided I could do it. That’s my proudest moment.

Goals in cycling?

Someday, I want to go to the Olympics. For now… I’m aiming to qualify for the U23 MTB World Championships this year in Australia!

Advice for younger girls interested in riding?

Find other shred girls who love to ride their bikes and just have a blast doing it! I still ride with my childhood friends that I met mountain biking years ago! And always remember why you’re doing it, and when it comes down to whether or not you let a bad race affect you, remember that it’s just that, a bike race.

Where can people find you?

Check out more Real Life Shred Girls here

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