Likes: “Dirt, sliding sideways on snow, the earth and its elements, knobby tires, pow turns and tree runs, two-wheeled devices used for flying through the forest, pump tracks, mud, slippery off-camber roots followed by wet rock gardens, small doubles, well-engineered berms, the smell of pine trees, hip hop, people with passion and conviction and humble confidence, progression, roasted sweet potatoes, creation, insanely muddy race conditions, sketchy descents, steady climbs, finding pieces of myself through everything I do, leaving the ground, laughter, sincerity, yoga, right here, right now.”
Dislikes: “Let’s not go there.”
As a child, she began to discover and experience life through the great outdoors. Depending on the season, mud soup, skinned knees, and homemade igloos were the bulk of her daily repertoire. As childhood years folded over one another like aging leaves, she soon found herself immersed in a world of organized sports – brimming with energy in need of an outlet, she entered into the realms of ballet and soccer, two endeavors that would last her competitively nearly fifteen years and experientially a lifetime.
Deciding not to play soccer in college afforded her the opportunity to pursue three other passions that had seized control of her soul: rock climbing, mountain biking, and snowboarding. While at school, the skateboard and mountain bike became the modes of transportation — yes, the same day-glow Klein — and it is on the streets of New Brunswick where she first entered into the light of two-wheeled racing.
“Alleycat Races,” as they were called, took place a handful of times throughout each semester, and soon enough Laura earned her title as “Queen of the Streets,” collecting spoke cards and Moon Brew as justifiable compensation. (Not to go unnoted that it was often the case that she was the only female attending among a gaggle of men and boys — and so, her victories were usually the byproduct of a non-existent field of women.)
￼Maneuvering through thick city streets — smudged with lines of traffic and oblivious people — was training for the rock gardens to come. In the meantime, trail running had become an obsession, and each summer was filled with endless hours spent running through Northern Jersey’s woods. After a few off-road running races, the transition to two wheels came quickly. With encouragement from her brother and her newly acquired riding friends, Laura began to adopt mountain biking as yet another labor of love — and, like snowboarding, it would become part of her being. Summers were now split between mountain biking, climbing, and some sort of job or two in order to sustain the lifestyle.
Riding snow or riding dirt, the two became somewhat interchangeable, although never replacing one another. Both snowboarding and mountain biking took her to the places that dreams were made of—beautiful peaks and valleys that cradle the passions of individuals, injected with solitary moments of silence in an ever-attentive woods, not to mention the possibilities of speed and yet another opportunity for an obsessive compulsive outlet.
The first race: Ringwood, 9/11/05. Not knowing a soul there and standing at the line in trail running gear and barely-padded spandex, an anxious determination summoned from her early days of soccer began its consumption of her nerves. She wanted to do the race for those who had perished on 9/11, and so the driving force was even greater — enough to reel her into first place and, thus, become the catalytic spark in a life-altering chain of events.
December weight: 135 lbs.
Race weight: 130 lbs.
Birthdate/Location: April 19, 1984 – Ridgewood, NJ
Childhood Heroes: “Martin Luther King. My big brother. Pele—mmm, can’t drum up the other ones.”
Hobbies/Interests: “Sliding sideways on snow, skateboarding, climbing, photography, writing, creating, reading, laughing, dancing, attempts at surfing.”
Favorite Movies: “Waking Life, Requiem for a Dream, anything Quentin Tarantino, Amores Perros, La Cidade De Deus, A Scanner Darkly, anything Tim Burton, Blood Diamond, Amelie, Hotel Rwanda, 300, Love Actually, Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Elf, Braveheart — and others I cannot recall, as usual. Freedom Writers, American History X, Scarface, Fight Club, American Beauty, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Glory, Shawshank Redemption, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Silence of the Lambs, Edward Scissorhands, Dumb and Dumber, Snatch, Blow.”
Musical Tastes: “Hip Hop and you don’t stop — along the lines of Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Sage Francis, Common, MJB, Blackstar, Nas, Jay-Z, EPMD, KRS-One, Wu-Tang Clan, Lauryn Hill, Atmosphere, Big Daddy Kane, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, P.E., NWA, Craig Mack, Salt-n-Pepa, Beastie Boys, Mobb Deep, Silverchair, Kanye.
“I love music from almost every genre — Dntel, The Postal Service, Four Tet, DJ Shadow, Last Days of April, Modest Mouse, Explosions in the Sky, Feist, Don Omar (various other Spanish music, traditional and modern, and Portuguese music as well, a lot of Fado), David Gray, The Cure, Her Space Holiday, Le Tigre, Otis Redding, Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Rage Against the Machine, Do Make Say Think, The Blacktop Cadence, Hot Water Music, Cursive, Celia Cruz, Nine Inch Nails, Death Cab for Cutie, TV on the Radio, Teddy Bears, The Faint, Bjork, RJD2, Jeff Buckley, Elvis, old Michael Jackson, Radiohead, Tool, Depeche Mode, The Notwist, Pinback, Johnny Cash.
￼“Why are you still perusing this list? I know I forgot a lot, but they either fall under some sort of country, electronic, industrial, hip-hop, African, Brazilian, or anything else type of category.”
Favorite TV Shows: “I don’t watch TV, nor do I feel that I am a superior being for not doing so. Actually, someone just showed me DVDs of The Office, which I happen to find a riot. I would also watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart if the chance arose.
“I like to read when I get the chance, and because there is no question concerning reading, I will note that I just finished Krik-Krak by Edwidge Danticat, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez, and I am currently re-reading Love by good ol’ Toni Morrison, and newly starting The Dead Emcee Scrolls: The Lost Teachings of Hip Hop, written by Saul Williams.”
Favorite Meal: “Anything someone cooks for me out of love and consideration.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Wheaties floating in skim milk. Sometimes Wheaties floating in skim milk with raisins.”
Favorite Pre-race Meal: “Either eggs with rice, or yogurt with Rainforest Granola and some type of fruit. Always Fig Newmans, though.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Mint Chocolate Chip fo sho’, only the natural kind. Picky? Nah.”
Childhood Dream: “To have the ability to help others — always.”
First Car: “The car I have now, a 95’ Jeep, red stick-shift with plenty of improvisational fixes.”
Favorite Vacation Spot: “British Columbia, Oregon, Utah, Washington, España, and Vermont — as long as I can be in those places with people I love.”
Pre-race Feeling: “I am so thankful to be able to be doing this…where is the bathroom?”
Early Racing Memory: “My first mountain bike race ever, at Ringwood, and I was rockin’ sneakers and platforms. They were all I knew. I rode there with my brother like that, although he had clipless. I just showed up, awkwardness and all, and rode like hell. What a miracle placing first was, something sparked in me after that first experience.”
Funny Racing Memory: “ ‘You’re kidding me, you’re not supposed to wear underwear beneath your spandex!?’ The light of underwear-less riding was actually shown upon me during a trek through the woods with Wendi.”
Greatest Racing Moment: “Every time I am able to get on a bike is the greatest moment. Someone once said that ‘whatever you are doing right now is the most beautiful thing,’ so…”
Most Painful Moment in Life: “This would have something to do with certain family illnesses, which everyone encounters at some point or another, hopefully not, but perhaps.”
Worst Injury from Racing: “Broken collarbone. Not racing.”
Closest Racing Friends: “Wendi, Ellen, Art, my entire Campmor Team, including Bulldogs, Jocelyn, Mike, Shasta… This is for racing only, there’re of course many more I am blessed to simply ride with.”
Funniest Racer: “Wendi and Jocelyn. Hot Wheels, too.”
￼Favorite Race: “My first 24 Hours of Allamuchy, 2007 — peanut butter mud, cats and dogs rain, roaring thunder, strobelight lightning, and an irreplaceable group of individuals all working together.”
Embarrassing Racing Memory: “This is a tough one — perhaps when I came out of a port-o-john and thought that the chocolate goo all over my hand and leg was poop. I think everyone waiting in line thought the same thing too, seeing as how several watched in awe while I tentatively brought my smudged fingers in for a closer inspection. Yeah, they definitely thought it was poop. I guess I am not embarrassed by much, though.”
Toughest Competitors: “Me, myself, and I.”
Favorite Athletes to Watch: “My brother, Kathy, Marianne, Art and Ellen, everyone I ride with, really. They all amaze me. Each one has his/her own specific strengths. There are many athletes outside of cycling I love to be with and/or watch, in snowboarding, climbing, and so on. I suppose any individuals who put their heart and soul into what they are doing, I like to watch them.”
Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Love, because love is the center for nearly every other admirable quality — honesty, humility, determination, empathy, selflessness, and the opportunities are endless.”
What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “The people it allows me to be with, the new souls it allows me to meet, and the places it gives me the opportunity to explore.
“I also love seeing how far I can push myself physically and mentally, something I know I am only at the edge of, with much further to go. What we can do with confidence is amazing. Riding is one, of many, ways in which I can express how thankful I am by living out my passions.”