Boulder pro Sonya Looney on posing for the sexed-up Cyclepassion calendar
"The human body -- male or female -- is a work of art, especially with athletes," says Boulder-based mountain bike pro endurance racer Sonya Looney, the latest local rider to strip down for Cyclepassion, the infamous German Calendar of International Cycling Stars often disparaged/celebrated as bike porn. "We work hard for our bodies, and there's a reason why photographs and paintings and sculptures of nude or nearly-nude athletes have always been popular."
Cyclepassion.com Mountain biker Sonya Looney in the 2013 Cyclepassion calendar.
Looney is one of six international athletes featured in the 2013 Cyclepassion calendar (her hard-won body is pictured on both the February and September pages) but she says the decision to pose wasn't an easy one. "For better or worse the calendar images are out there now, and it's starting to bring me a lot of attention I'm not used to." Westword caught up with her for a quick chat about the softcore calendar, the hardcore race schedule she still has ahead of her, and how she's balancing such contrasts in her life.
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Westword: First off, congratulations on your recent comeback: I read on your blog that you just got your cast off from a broken wrist, then went out and won your division in the Dakota 5-0 in Spearfish, South Dakota. Welcome back!
Sonya Looney: Thanks! I actually raced the Leadville 100 earlier this month with my cast on and placed 6th. It's a really hard race to get into and it's a huge commitment as far as training because it's completely different from the other races I do, so I decided that I'd done the work and I was just going to do it. But it's definitely good to have that thing off!
They had actually asked me to do the calendar the year before and I had said no because I was a little bit uncomfortable putting myself out there in that sort of sexy way... people may look at me that way, but I like to portray myself more as a positive, fun ball of energy than a sex symbol, and I was afraid that posing for the calendar would detract from the image that I've made for myself in cycling. But they asked me and I thought about it for a year and finally said, "As long as I'm in control of what I'm wearing and what I'm doing, it could be fun."
You'll notice that I have some more clothes on than some of the other athletes in this year's calendar! I think there's a line for everybody, where people are comfortable, and my line is probably a little more conservative than some other people's.
What changed your mind about it?
There's a lot of pressure to be masculine when you're a professional athlete, and there is a time for that, especially with the ultra-endurance racing I do. You have to be tough, you have to be hard, and sometimes you have to be emotionally hardened. It seems like there are a lot of women in mountain biking and in sports in general who feel that pressure, the pressure to not be girly. I remember being at races when I first started racing pro and I'd feel embarrassed to put makeup on or wear a skirt! So partly I did it to show that you can be feminine and you can have a sexy, hot side to you and have fun with it and still be a hardcore professional athlete.
Ultimately, though, I did it for me: I thought it would be fun. It was something I'd never done before, and now that the calendar's out I feel like I can look back and think, "I'm glad I did that." It's definitely going to be a little bit controversial, but I'm glad that I did it. And I'm really happy with how the pictures came out. I look at them and think, "Wow, that's me? Really?" So far the response has been positive: people love the calendar.