This is a very exciting edition of Stories. 10-time British National Champion, fan-favorite, and fellow #KindRider - Helen Wyman - sits down to interview young up-and-comer Chelsea Weidinger. When we first met Chelsea, she was quick to ask, “Is there any chance you can put me in touch with Helen, because she’s kind of my idol.” Who are we to keep a girl from her dreams? Without further ado, meet Chelsea Weidinger.
HELEN: It was with a 3rd place at Masters nationals in 2018 that Chelsea Weidinger rounded out an exciting cross season in January 2018. It involved a racing trip to China, a good number of UCI events and a podium finish all seemingly making it a good season, and according to CrossResults.com, which I have to take as gospel, she’s only ever had one career DNF. With a switch to KindHuman completed, there isn’t a better person to start my series of interviews with, so let’s find out more about a rider originally from Columbus Ohio, who’s only 34 years young.
CHELSEA: My move to San Francisco was really down to cycling. I thought the weather would be better, which is kind of true. I also thought there would be more cycling opportunities here, but in reality there would of more opportunity to progress within ‘cross on the East Coast. On the West Coast there isn’t a lot going on in terms of UCI events so you lack opportunity when it comes to top events and top riders. It took me too long to work it out to be honest, but I’m learning still and having only started in 2012 it’s a steep curve that I’m still on.
Aside from racing, San Francisco is also about being a barista. Coffee is a part of nearly every ride and workout I do.
HELEN: I spend most of the year in France and we just have coffee, generally bad coffee. Life is simply when ordering here, you just ask for either a coffee, or a long coffee. Milk is an optional extra. That’s not always optional to us, the client, but very much so to the café as it appears in some places milk is prized commodity. So educate me, what’s the difference between a flat white and a latte?
CHELSEA: The flat white is smaller, and the flat white originated in New Zealand, and has less foamy milk. I mean in reality we just make a really small latte. Cortado, Gibraltar, Flat White; all of these are the same or very similar.
A flat white is an espresso-based coffee drink consisting of espresso with microfoam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles with a glossy or velvety consistency). It is somewhat similar to the caffè latte although smaller in volume and less microfoam, therefore having a higher proportion of coffee to milk, and milk that is more velvety in consistency – allowing the espresso to dominate the flavour, while being supported by the milk.
HELEN: 5000 followers say you are good person to follow on Instagram, so can you explain why you’re Non Stop (@iamnonstop) also tell us about cake, as I’ve seen some on IG, as I’m a well documented fan of a fine pastry myself.
CHELSEA: I first got my Insta account when it was first around as an app. I got the name from a friend who had it on a blog. I’ve just never changed it. It’s fitting as I’m always busy, so I mean why not. The next logical step will be “I stopped” or “I’m on Siesta” but for now life is non-stop, until I get to a cookie stop.
I try to fit in a coffee on all of my rides I always make room for a cookie or cupcake. I never used to eat that kind of thing, but I mean why not. I think the best place around is Andy Town, it’s the place I go to most on my recovery rides; It’s just 30 minutes away so splits an easy spin in two. Most places are coffee shops and bakeries combined here. Andy Town do toast, so I tend to have a soda farl, with cheddar and bacon. It’s not a cake, but after a workout, I pair it up with a cookie.
HELEN: Following the move from Ohio to SF for good weather and bike riding what were your first steps?
CHELSEA: I wanted to try racing. I’d only really been commuting before so had no history in the sport at all. I did some alleycat racing on my commuter bike. It was a single speed bike with a steel frame. It was super basic but I liked it. I wasn’t comfortable on a fixed wheel but the single free was great.
I’d been introduced to CX by watching women’s racing on the internet. It was Cross Vegas in 2012. I’d never been to a race; I just knew it was what I wanted to do. I became friends with some people via my bike mechanic at the time. He’d taken me out to do some skills work and before my first race and I kind of perfected the mount and dismount.
My first race was good. I was sprinting for 5th, even though I didn’t even know it was the last lap. We were heading down the home straight and I was just trying to pass the girl I was racing with. I aimed for the gap between her and barriers but she moved over and I got squeezed. It was one of the worst cashes I’ve ever had. I got up and ran across the line finishing in 12th, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I’ve still never broken a bone but the next few races weren’t so good as my arm was injured, but luckily no major injury although there is some gravel rash still visible today.
This year was my first time racing outside of ‘cross. It was a circuit race I ended up being the only person in my category. So I raced with two more experienced riders from another category and it ended up being a case of just essentially going as hard as I could for 30 minutes.
HELEN: So where did you want to get to in cyclocross and what are goals going forward now after several seasons?
CHELSEA: If you asked me that a couple of years ago, I’d of said my goals would have been to be a leading US CX racer. To go to a World Cup but I’m already 34 and it’s my 6th year racing. I’m now much more aware of the work, time and dedication it takes to first be at that level, but also to keep coming back stronger every year.
Whilst those early goals are still there, I’m not sure of how much of a reality they are. So I guess I just want to be the best I can be in the time I have in the sport.
HELEN: As well as looking good for 34, I’d say those goals aren’t unrealistic, and the sport is accessible. So if you want to go to a WC, you can. You just have to select well. There’s no harm in having an event as a goal. When you’re young in a career, it can be an issue as you put so much focus on going to an event and forget the performance at the event. But with the current crop of rider at the top of the sport, 34 isn’t old. Obviously I’m looking at myself as an example. So off the bike, what does the life of Chelsea involve?
CHELSEA: I can’t remember the last book I read, I just fall asleep if I read, but I watch a few movies. The last one was Tully. I also binged watched The Handmaid's Tale. It was good; I’d likely rate it as 8.5 out of 10.
HELEN: So onto those tattoo’s...
CHELSEA: Most have come in the past 4 years. They’ve been done by two local artists in the San Francisco area. Most are of animals and are just artwork done by them that I really liked and they hadn’t used yet. I do have a space ship though so I guess that breaks the pattern. The only one with real special meaning is the cat, as my cat died a couple of years ago. If I could be any animal, it would be a cat.
HELEN: KindHuman, how did that come about?
CHELSEA: It was really via Ritchey as I was working with them. A friend at Ritchey mentioned KindHuman as they are working together on the build options available for all new KindHuman bikes. I’d heard of KindHuman because of their partnership with you so I reached out to them. They seemed like awesome people so it worked out really well.
I have the KÜDÜ and I chose seafoam green as a bright colour. It matches my clothing, so everything else can be muted. I really like it.
HELEN: I saw you were at Dirty Kanza; is it on the agenda for the future?
CHELSEA: 100 miles is a lot, 200 is out of the question. My boyfriend did the 100 this year, and ended up winning, so I was there and had a great time. He’d never ridden gravel, or even a cross race but he loved it. He described the 200 mile event as “a drug he should most likely stay away from”.
There’s also the 350 of course, which is just asking for trouble.
HELEN: Would you do the 200 if I did it with you?
CHELSEA: Erm, maybe. But 200 miles is just a lot of miles. I think we’d end up liking each other and also hating each other. Maybe we should stick to the 100?
HELEN: This coming season, what does it hold in store?
CHELSEA: I start on 1 September in San Jose, it’s the CCX event. I’ll be racing the first two weekends to get my bikes all set up. The first major event will be Cross Reno. If I could race my bike anywhere, it would be in somewhere in Europe, so maybe that on the future planner.