I had the opportunity to be at the start/finish line of stage 3 of the US Pro Challenge women's race in Golden, Colorado a couple of weeks ago.  It was exhilirating to see the women's criterium race and the intensity and speed that each additional lap brought.  Coryn Rivera, an American racing cyclist who competes for the UnitedHealthcare Women’s team sprinted to the final stage win as the incredible Kristin Armstrong took the overall in the first Women's USA Pro Challenge.   As I watched Coryn cross the finish line I was in awe of her strength, confidence, and courage crossing that finish line.  

Coryn is one of the fastest female sprinters in the United States. Still in the early stages of her career, this 23-year-old has 70 national titles in three disciplines: road, track and cyclocross.  She earned 10 victories throughout the debut season of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team women’s program, one of which was the US Nation Criterium Championship.  She was the 6th fastest rider to the line sprinting on the legendary Champs-Élysées in the first-ever La Course by Tour de France, an effort that earned Coryn the Best Young Rider title in the race.

Please join The Warmi Project for this blog interview with Coryn Rivera awarded the US Pro Challenge's 'Most Courageous Rider.'

Coryn, you were recognized as the tour’s most courageous rider.  Where does that inner strength and confidence come from and do you feel this is something that has been innate for you?

I think I ride and race with courage for every training ride and race that I am in. Personally, I feel like you should put 100% into everything you do.   If not, why do it? It must be something that is natural for me because I’ve had that same attitude for most everything that I put my mind to.

What is going through your mind those last 500 meters before the finish line, could you share any mental skills training that you use to get you to that finish line?

It really depends on the kind of finish, but mostly positioning is important. You have to know where you have to be and when is the best time to be there. Everyone is different, so you have to work with your strengths. But staying calm and being confident in what you have to do are some good mental skills for the final 500m.

This was a big step to have the U.S. ProChallenge inaugurate 3 stages for women, how did you feel it went?

I thought it was a great weekend! To have a 3-day stage race with a TT, road race, and circuit is a well rounded stage race. It was cool to race most of the same roads as the men and have the same crowds, but I do have to brag that the crowds in Golden were amazing and so enthusiastic. The way they gathered on the hill to see the finish was unreal, I tried to high-five as many people as I could after the finish line! I hope the race will be able to grow the race by days and level of competition in the future.

Any advice for how we can do more to promote gender equality in racing and get us a full tour?

I think to get a full tour is really up to the race promoters. I hope this year they were able to see a return on investment and what it does for the sport in general to include a women’s race. I hope they and the fans were able to see that just because we are female doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of racing our bikes, we sacrifice just as much or more than the men to ‘live the dream’ and I don’t know a good enough reason for why we shouldn’t able to have the same opportunities and rewards as the men.

What does it mean to be a strong woman to you?

Confidence. I think to have confidence in your abilities is what makes you strong. To add, woman is a label of gender, not ability.

Outside of cycling, what are some of your favorite hobbies?

I’m in my last semester at Marian University, so a lot of my free time for hobbies is taken up by school at the moment. But I typically like to enjoy being outside. I’m a huge lover of good coffee and good food as well.