Olympic mountain bike alternate touts East Coast training

Audrey Augustin is lying in waiting as a U.S. Olympic alternate  Credit: USA Cycling
Mountain biking was first introduced as an Olympic sport at the 96 Games in Atlanta, and as Audrey Augustin watched the race on TV, she had no idea how close shed come to competing in it four years later.

I watched it and thought, This is so cool,'"says Augustin, who was named as an alternate to the womens Olympic mountain bike team. Augustin, who has been mountain biking for about eight years, will go to Sydney only if one of the three women on the team cannot compete for some reason.

Ill be on call for up to 72 hours before the race starts, Augustin says. But whether she goes to the Olympic Games or not, Augustin is thrilled to have been selected as an alternate.

It was great, she says. It felt like I had achieved one of my goals for the season. Some of my friends say, Oh, you must be so frustrated not to have made the team, but Im not frustrated. Im really excited.

Augustins selection was based on her performance at some of the major competitions held this season, including the Mount St. Annes race in Quebec (where she placed high despite having a flat tire and a bent rim) and the Mount Snow race in Vermont.

Im riding really well right now, Augustin says. The last two races I was in solidified my selection.

Augustin and her husband live in Williston, Vt., where she manages to find time to work as a freelance graphic designer between training and travel. While many mountain-bike racers train out west, Augustin prefers her Vermont location.

One of my big things is how few people from the East Coast compete nationally, she says. Id like to be able to encourage and inspire people from the east to compete at the national level. You dont need to live out west to do this.

According to Augustin, training on the East Coast has some major advantages.

At lower altitudes, you can ride harder and recover faster, she says. Augustin adds that training on New Englands famous steep climbs and the rock- and root-covered terrain has made her a very strong climber and helped her develop excellent technical skills.

With the Olympics just out of her reach, Augustin has had a busy race schedule this summer and is training hard whether she goes to Sydney or not.

I was training to be strong at the end of the season, and with the Olympics being held in September, it wont change how I train very much, she says.

If Augustin does go to the Olympics, says she expects it to be the most exciting and difficult race of her career.

It will be intense, she says. I can name five women who could win the gold, so its going to be a fierce competition.

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