Boulder pro Sonya Looney on posing for the sexed-up Cyclepassion calendar
This year has been a really great year for me because I've gotten to race internationally more than I ever have before. The crowning moment of my year so far has been a race I did in Nepal back in March called the Yak Attack. It's a 10-day stage race on the Annapurna Circuit, starting in Kathmandu, that's billed as "the world's highest mountain bike race," some of it at over 18,000 feet. I was the first woman to complete it, so it's been kind of hard to trump that this year after having that be the start of my season! After that I raced the Trans-Germany and raced the BC Bike Race in British Columbia, where I broke my wrist. So it's been a rough summer and now I'm really looking forward to the fall: I'm racing through November.
On your Twitter feed you just announced, "Starting to make my race wish list for 2013. Do Epic Shit!!!" What races are you still looking forward to this year?
This weekend I have a really tough race coming up called the Vapor Trail 125 High Altitude Ultra-Marathon Mountain Bike Enduro. It's a 125-mile loop and it starts on Saturday at 10pm in Salida. The female record is something like 15 and half hours, so it's pretty tough, but it's going to be amazing to see the stars at 13,000 feet and to see the sunrise and go through the highs and lows of being out there for that long: that stuff makes me feel so alive, and that's why I do it. Then I'm doing La Ruta de los Conquistadores in November in Costa Rica. This year is the 20th anniversary for the event, a three-day stage race across Costa Rica. I'll also be doing some local cyclocross racing and an underground race in New Mexico that's part of the New Mexico Endurance series.
Do you feel like living and training in Boulder gives you a competitive advantage when you're out doing these endurance races around the world?
Oh, absolutely. I've lived in Boulder for seven years. I moved here to do my master's degree in electrical engineering, which was a great excuse to move to Boulder and race my bike. I did work as a solar engineer for two years, but then Ergon offered me a job as brand manager and I've been with them ever since.
Living in Boulder is a very humbling experience for a mountain biker because there are so many top elite-level athletes living here. A lot of times there can be fiercer competition at a local race series than you'd find racing out of state or even internationally. Personally, I think it's an advantage to be humbled, to be living in a place where everyone is really good, because there are lots of people to remind you to keep working harder. I feel very lucky to be living in Boulder, living at altitude and near the mountains in this very health-conscious bubble where we have world-class coaches and nutritionists and everything else... we have great access to all the mountain riding up I-70 and great local climbing and singletrack right here near town.