Interview: Joy Duerksen
Interview of Joy Duerksen by Evan Trubee
Local legend and fan favorite Joy Duerksen completed her first Redlands Bicycle Classic this year. After spending several years as a top level mountain biker and helping as a volunteer for the RBC, Joy decided to make the leap and participate in this years’ event as a competitor. Joy is a full time teacher, cycling coach, racer, and is engaged to Cash Call Mortgages’ Brian McCulloch but she still found time to answer a few questions for us! Below she shares her thoughts on making the leap from spectator to top level road racer:
Give us a cycling resume and don’t be afraid to brag!
Well, I come from a mountain biking background, and I was able to move up through the beginner ranks to the professional field in just about 2 years.However my resume contains weekly race starts and finishes over the past 5 years, the results are coming. Results and upgrading on the road is much more difficult I have found.
When and why did you make the transition from mountain biking to road cycling?
I completed at least 2 road events each year, but 2009 I really switched to road. After the NORBA circuit shuffled and it became more difficult to travel to the National Mountain Bike Events, I decided to stick near home. You can race every weekend in SoCal on the road, but with MTB events are 5 weeks apart and sometimes getting to the east coast was a challenge. Also after the Beijing Olympics the womens MTB field shrunk and the working class of us in the pro ranks became highly out numbered.
How many years had you been involved with the Redlands Classic and in what capacity?
4 I believe! The first year I raced the Public Races and thought i would DIE! The second year I was a course marshall and got to wear a sweet orange t-shirt. The third year I managed/directed a pro mens composite team for my fiancee and lastly, I was able to race in the pro ½ womens field!!
Tell us about your experience helping out Brian as he competed in last year’s event.
Shock and awe! I was sweating before the managers meeting, knowing i would be sitting with the likes of Gord Frasier and Axel Mercxs. My tasks sheet was endless but I had a blast. From filling bottles to prepping dinner for the team and working the feed zone and calling the chief commissary, i put in about 15 hour days. Thank goodness I was on spring break from teaching!
At what point did you decide that you wanted to race the RBC?
I decided I wanted to race RBC when I finished the Public Race in 2005. I just didn’t know how I would get there. This past October my fiancee Brian and I were eating dinner and putting our goals in stone. This was #1. So I emailed my coach Izette Swan and we started making plans!
Do you see the RBC as a stepping stone to bigger things or are you satisfied just to have completed it?
Had i answered this question the day after the race, I would have said I was satified, and beat. But a few weeks later after getting refreshed and rejuvinated, I made plans to go race Tour of the Gila with Clara Hughes and today and I heading to Mt. Hood Classic to race with her again. RBC opened some amazing doors for me!
What was your role during the race for your team? How did you hook up with them?
To FINISH! No joke. That was my first job. Second job was to do whatever I could for our GC rider Mara Abbott. This basically meant I would find her in the peloton and ask her if she needed anything. The team was great. Mostly SC Velo/Empower coaching athletes of whome I race against locally every weekend and have created great friendships wit. Headed up by Dotsie Bausch who called Michael Engelman – Director of US Womens cycling Development, to be our director. This was an amazing opportunity to learn alongside my friends under the tutelage of the best in the business, working for mara, one of the most accomplished female cyclists of our time.
Were there any big surprises during the race that you hadn’t expected after your years as a volunteer?
How weird everything looked! I felt like I was on the Truman show, seeing the same sights each lap on Sunset. I had so many friends and supporters out on every course, I think the peloton was pretty suprised for a local to get so much love! It was really humbling and a supreme honor to have my students, clients, coworkers and teammates all out cheering me on.
You train on the same roads that were used for the race, any big surprises riding these routes at race pace versus the training rides?
Yeah! that I yard sale crashed it on one of the roads I have ridden hundreds of times! So crazy! But I was lucky to know all the routes, makes the mental side of the suffering much easier.
How is the coaching business going?
haha, well I got a few new clients post RBC, I guess it helps for people to see you race your bike.
What is next for Joy on the Bike? Did RBC give you ambitions for bigger things as a racer?
Oh for sure. It really broke the ice to NRC competition and let me know that with some guidance and support, I can accomplish some cool stuff. We are planning a big summer of racing with Mt. Hood, Cascade, Tour de NEz, and Tour de Toona and we will see what comes from there. I am just so excited to race my bike with good people and have the opportunities that have come my way. I am treasuring every moment of it, suffering and all!