Interview: The Women Behind The Art Of Cycling

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Q&A with the Women behind the Art of Cycling

In honor of National Bike Month, we met up with Kristen Phillips and Lisa Mazzola of Art of Cycling on all this cycling in NYC!  

Kristen is a USAC Certified Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher. She has ridden, raced, and coached all over the country giving her a wide range of experience to draw from.

Lisa is a USAC Certified Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher. She is a Category 3 road racer and CRCA Women’s Development Coach.

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PS: Thank you Kristen & Lisa for meeting with us today!  Tell us: What is Art of Cycling?  Why did you start it?

K: We started Art of Cycling because of a shared vision about how cycling can improve every aspect of our lives. We learned on many long rides together that our personal philosophies were aligned, and were shaped heavily by our backgrounds in art and yoga.

L: We both had some similar opinions and thoughts about how body, mind, and bike need to be in sync. It was really empowering for me to realize that there was someone else out there that felt as strongly as I do about the need for focused and supported practice and coaching, especially for newer riders to the sport. With that as the foundation, It all came together very organically and easily.

PS: Very true. What are some your best memories as coaches for Art of Cycling?

K: We create them every day. The business is evolving and we’re responding to what our clients need and what the community wants. As a coach, the most satisfying thing is to see my athletes meet and exceed their own goals. 

L: We are very lucky that we are able to see our athletes accomplished something they never thought was possible before. Seeing that level of excitement is something I can’t get enough of.  And when it then translates into other areas of their lives and they share that with us, it’s even better.

PS: What are your best tips for someone who’s new to biking?

K: The best thing you can do when you’re new to biking is learn handling skills. Make sure you know how to stop quickly, shift efficiently, and pedal smoothly. Learn to balance at slow speeds because we do a lot of that in the city.

L: Practice and consistency would be my mantra. The speed at which one can progress is directly related to the amount of time they spend in the saddle. Building muscle memory and endurance are key first steps. 

PS: Awesome tips - especially for biking in NYC!  We can definitely understand the stop and go.  What are some of your favorite training gear and accessories for cycling?

K:  I’ve been wearing Specialized shoes since 2002 and currently own 7 pairs of them. My favorite helmet is also by Specialized, and I love my Pearl Izumi bike shorts.

L: I am a recent convert to Specialized shoes and saddles, and I love them both! The Pearl Izumi Cyclone gloves are go to for bike commuting.

PS: What are some of your offerings at AOC that NYC bikers can take advantage of?

K: We try to offer something for every level of cyclist, from beginner to advanced. Beginners tend to benefit most from private sessions where we give specific advice on form and technique, and answer every question. We also offer personal coaching services for cyclists who are performance-minded and looking to meet specific goals. There are also group coaching classes on coaching topics that we run on a regular basis- check our website for details.

L: In addition, we also offer yoga classes and workshops that are designed to align with the different tempo and intensity of the season. In the early part of the year we are focusing on building strength, stamina and focus. As we move into the heart of the season, we highlight yoga postures that aid and speed athletic recovery.

PS: In addition to be avid cyclists and cycling coaches, you are both yoga teachers.  How has yoga helped you as cyclists?  How important is cross-training for someone who is cycling as a part of their fitness/training regimen?

K: For me, I credit yoga as the reason I’m still riding a bike to this day. Over the years I’ve been able to work out many injuries and catch new ones before they happen. In the winter I use it to build strength, and in the spring, summer, and fall when I ride a lot it becomes more gentle and restorative. Plus the sense of calm and clarity that naturally follows makes it valuable for everyone.

L: A consistent and responsive yoga practice really can take you through every part of the cycling season. My yoga is purely therapeutic at this point and brings ease and calm to my body and mind. Cross training is key to maintaining and rehabilitating the body as we increase the training stress. 

PS: There seem to be more women now paving the way in cycling.  What are some barriers you’ve seen for getting ladies on the road and what have you done to support the growth of this community?

K: We are both part of a large women’s cycling group here in NYC. The goal is to create a safe, welcoming community where there is something for every level of rider. We regularly lead rides and host events that are designed teach women what they need to know to be safer, more confident cyclists.

L: Cycling can be very intimidating.  We do all we can to support female cyclists whether it is leading rides or hosting workshops.  

PS: Where are your favorite spots in and around NYC to bike?

K: My favorite place to go close to NYC is River Road just over the George Washington Bridge. It’s a popular route for cyclists because it’s very scenic and has little traffic. It’s a great place to go for a weekday escape.

L: There is so much great riding just over the GWB. I love all the climbs in and around Nyack as well as some of the off road trails between Piermont and Nyack. I also love Central Park in late fall, on a crisp early weekday morning.

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If you want to meet the coaches and members of the Art of Cycling group, come by Paragon Sports for a Happy Hour & Cycling Info Session on Wednesday, May 24 at 6:30PM.  

RSVP HERE

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