Achieve: Sofi, congratulations on a spectacular 2014 race season.
SM: Thank you. I wasn’t sure how things would go after an early-season hamstring strain that lingered throughout the year. It was definitely a struggle, but with the help of my coach I was able to make some major strides on the psychological side of the sport – which can never be underestimated. I was happy to come away with a few victories alongside top placings in CalCup and the NCNCA Prestige Series.
Achieve: I’d like to focus on your off-season training, However, before we discuss that, tell me a little about yourself. Who is Sofi Marin?
SM: I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask that question! I can tell you that I enjoy nature, coffee, exploring on the bike, practicing mindfulness and travelling.
Achieve: How did you first get into cycling?
SM: I started riding bikes while living in Philadelphia, commuting around town for fun. I dabbled in some bike touring but it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco that racing was even on my radar. Someone suggested I go to a “ride” in Golden Gate Park. Turns out it was a BASP cyclocross race and at the very last second I decided to enter my first-ever bike race on the crappiest bike imaginable with flat pedals and zero fitness. I did terrible, it was awesome and I was hooked. I also met my partner of 5 years at that race, so it was serendipitous.
Achieve: Have you always been involved in sports?
SM: Yes and no. I have always been very athletic – I remember setting a lot of records in elementary and middle school for push ups, pull ups, etc. I remember feeling very satisfied when the boys would get jealous. I was a gymnast in the earlier part of my life. I started the sport late (just like cycling) but quickly moved up the levels and was absolutely in love with it. Unfortunately I was pulled out of the sport just as I was entering my prime. It was heart-breaking. I sort of lost that part of myself as the years went on – I figured my athletic ambitions were over. Cycling has allowed me to pursue reaching my athletic potential and I’ve found it incredibly fulfilling.
Achieve: And what was it about the Folsom-Cervelo team that most appealed to you?
SM: We’ll be called Folsom Bike/Trek in 2015 – I’m really looking forward to new bike day! Erin Gorrell is a really inspiring team director, in addition to running Folsom Bike shops, she runs our elite squad and has spearheaded a movement to get more women on bikes. Our squad is small and powerful. We have some of NorCal’s most talented riders and I feel honored to be a part of the team. Each rider is capable of winning, which makes for some really exciting bike racing.
Achieve: How would you describe the women’s race scene in NorCal?
SM: Competitive. NorCal has produced some incredible riders over the years who have gone on to race at the top level of the sport in Europe. Recently, I was looking through photos of Team TIBCO’s pro squad at an NRC race. They were leading a small grupetto up the climb and I noticed that all of the other riders in the lead group were NorCal cyclists who I do road races with. To me, that says a lot about the caliber of racing here.
Achieve: Are there any particular events that stand out for you, either one that stands out from a results perspective, or one that you would like to win someday?
SM: I love technical courses and punchy power climbs, anything over 20% is my jam. Cat’s Hill is a favorite that suits me. But looking forward, I would love to win the Philly Cycling Classic some day. Great course, prestigious, and in Philly.
Achieve: You also decided to begin training with Achieve PTC and Coach Dana Williams.
SM: Yes, training with Coach Dana was absolutely necessary in taking my training to the next level. It’s actually unbelievable how much I’ve learned from him this year. Despite the early-season setback, I was still able to achieve my goal of contending both road races and crits. Not to mention the training is perfect for me – minimal time commitment, plenty of recovery and huge gains.
Achieve: Is this the first time you’ve trained with a coach? If so, describe the experience.
SM: Yes, it’s the first year with a coach and first year with a power meter. I only wish I had started sooner! It’s a big relief not having to guess my way through training. Coach Dana has created a very specific plan tailored to my goals and I definitely feel I am on a path to reaching my full potential. It’s great to have consistent feedback about my training and racing.
Achieve: Based on your results (P/1/2) 1st Foothill Circuit Race, 1st Colavita, 2nd Winters Road Race it would appear that the Achieve PTC training program has really worked for you. What is it, specifically, about Coach Dana’s program that most appeals to you?
SM: Yes, the program is great. I can’t recommend it enough. The guidance and feedback is unmatched. What has really worked for me is that the workouts are very specific – typically short and sweet. It’s easier to stay motivated when you feel accomplished after each ride.
Achieve: Let’s talk about the off-season. Some people use the early part of the off season to get away from cycling. How are you approaching the off-season, physically and mentally?
SM: I went a little stir crazy after a week off the bike. For me it’s more about living outside of the structure of training and racing for a bit. I’m also focusing on rehabbing instabilities and improving mobility. I’m goal oriented so I am happy to be in the gym for strength training. Bike rides are totally unstructured so it’s a healthy balance.
Achieve: Coach Dana is a strong proponent of strength training during the off-season. Can you tell me a little about his strength program and how you’ve adapted to it.
SM: This is my first year doing strength training and I’m super excited. The gains are pretty immediate which is highly motivating. I am adapting very quickly and can already feel improvement in certain instabilities and under-developed muscle groups.
Achieve: Do you enjoy it?
SM: I love it! It’s a confidence builder for sure.
Achieve: Do you take any time off the bike during the off-season? If so, how much? If not, why?
SM: This year I took a week off the bike completely and a month of totally unstructured riding for fun. Because I didn’t experience burnout this year, I didn’t feel the need to take much time off.
Achieve: Looking forward to next season, have you begun to set goals and/or target races? If yes, can you tell me which ones? If not, at what point during the off-season will you start thinking about target races?
SM: Next year, I would like to improve my road racing abilities. I am excited to try out some NRC races. Also, San Rafael is a hometown race I’d love to do well at. I placed 7th in the pro race this year and I think a slightly bigger sprint will get me there. I am sure Coach Dana can help me get to the level I would like to race at.
Achieve: : How is this different than in years past, if at all?
SM: From the beginning I have tried to dream big. But this year, I think everything is finally starting to fall into place with training, mindset, support. Everything feels possible in the off-season!
Achieve: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. And enjoy the off-season!
Sofi Marin lives and trains in the East Bay.