Emily Kachorek, cyclocross champion

PHOTO courtesy of Jeff namba

See Emily Kachorek race at this year’s West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 17, at the River Walk Park, 651 Second West Street in West Sacramento. Learn more at www.wscxgp.com.

Sacramento’s professional cyclocross champion, Emily Kachorek, recently returned from Yanqing, China, where she competed for the 2016 Qiansen Trophy and won the Elite Women’s title. This is Kachorek’s first Union Cycliste Internationale win, but she’s been hitting the multiterrain cyclocross race tracks—which incorporate everything from mud grass, hurdles and more—since 2011. Kachorek pedals hard to represent the United States and her team, Squid Bikes, named for the Tahoe Park company that she co-founded. When she’s not taking home first-place wins, Kachorek works as a driving force behind the West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix, which invites more than 400 die-hard athletes to compete each year. Kachorek sat down with SN&R over beers and dished on her sweet tooth, her company and her training methods for the season.

You hold a master’s in conservation biology. How did you cross into cycling?

I restarted with the cycling team at Sacramento State when I was there and I was offered some pro contracts in 2011 when I was finishing up graduate school. I had my master’s degree and I had this opportunity, so I just kind of jumped on it. I’ve been enjoying it ever since and one thing has led to another in terms of racing and now owning a bike company as well.

Tell me about Squid Bikes.

When we started the company, we noticed most bikes looked relatively similar. They all have the logo on the down tube and they tend to be white, black, red or blue in general. When we started Squid Bikes, the premise was we wanted the bikes to look like surfboards and skateboards rather than traditional bikes. I’m originally from San Diego and grew up surfing, so I felt like it reflects my roots. The whole deal is we want the bike to be yours. It’s your bike; it should look like what you want it to look like. So, you buy the bike completely raw and you do whatever you want with it.

So, customers pretty much paint a blank canvas?

We wanted to put our creative mark on the sport that we love and we’re all collectively really proud of. What people have grabbed onto is what we call “The Rattlecan” and we use the hashtag #DIYFS; do it your fucking self. (Laughs.) So, the whole deal is you buy the bike completely raw and you do whatever you want with it. So most people spray paint it, some people use paint pens or some people even just leave it completely raw. Most people have their own ideas and that’s exactly what we want.

Where do you source the frames?

They’re made right over in Rancho Cordova by a brand called Ventana Mountain Bikes and he’s been building under that name since ’88. He’s arguably one of the best aluminum welders in the United States. It’s our own geometry, so it’s our own bike, nobody else has that bike. But, he sources the bikes for us.

Go-to guilty pleasure food?

In general, my diet is really good because that’s part of my lifestyle is I like eating healthy, but I definitely have a sweet tooth for ice cream. So, I’ll go for like a decadent chocolate-chocolate chip, or chocolate fudge, or chocolate peanut butter. I love going to the gelato place, Divine.

What is it about riding in the dirt or mud that keeps you active in cyclocross?

Riding in dirt, it’s such a three-dimensional environment. You have rocks and angles on the trail and dirt that will or won’t move, so it’s really interesting. It’s a very dynamic environment and plus, you’re just outside in nature. You can ride in beautiful places on a road bike, no doubt. But, being out in the woods in the dirt, no matter what, you’re more in nature and I really like that.

What do you enjoy more about cyclocross versus road cycling?

The sport for me is kind of like an onion. Every year, I peel away new layers and start learning more and more about it. When I first went from racing road to focusing on cylcocross, I expected it to be a dirt time trial, which is start and finish and see how fast you can go the whole time. But, it’s way more complex than that. Cyclocross has a lot of turning and how you’re able to work your way through that is really important to how you do and where you save your energy. I really appreciate that aspect of it and every time, without exception, you learn something.

What’s your training routine like?

There’s certain periods of the year where I’ll focus on longer, slower miles with the idea of it, like, building your engine. As you get closer to the season, you ramp up the intensity. So, early in the year, I’ll ride my bike easy up and down the bike trail and go to Karen’s [in Folsom] to get scones and hang out. As it gets closer to the season starting, I spend a lot of time riding in the dirt, riding in the grass and in the mud. Specifically for cyclocross, too, in terms of getting off the bike and back on and running up stairs, I’ll practice that as well. You can lose seconds and that all adds up and you’re doing it a lot.