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Sandra Walter

Name: Sandra Walter

Age: 36

Height: 157cm/5’1

Hometown: Coquitlam, BC

Current residence: Coquitlam, BC

Education: BA in Writing, University of Victoria

What age did you start cycling?  I can’t remember at what age I first learned to ride a bike, but I got my first mountain bike when I was 8 and I went on several family biking trips – mostly gravel roads, because mountain biking barely existed at that time. That year, we did a 3-day trip along the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan. I carried all of my own camping gear on my bike rack and I remember being very uncomfortable and hot in the blazing summer sun. Also, at the end of my trip, I experienced my first big crash while zooming down a long gravel road. My hands got tired from all the braking and I lost control. It was my first experience with “road rash”. I’ve acquired lots more scars since then!

What inspired you to start riding / racing? In high school, a group of boys who were into mountain biking invited me along on one of their rides. The trails happened to be basically in my backyard, so that was convenient as well. When I first started riding with them, I walked almost every downhill (and a lot of the uphills too), but when I started pedaling faster than the guys on the climbs and staying on my bike for the descents, they told me I was pretty good and suggested I should try racing. We convinced one of our high school teachers to take on coaching a bike team and take us to high school races, which he did and it was awesome! That’s where I got hooked on racing, because I was one of the best (and only) girls. I started setting my sights on the boys (passing them, not flirting with them) during races when I was way ahead of the other girls.

First bike? I’m not sure if it’s my very first bike, but I still have this 20”-wheel red cruiser bike with a banana seat. I seem to remember a smaller green hand-me-down from my brother, but it’s kind of a blur.

First cycling club or team? My high school team: Terry Fox Secondary in Port Coquitlam, BC!

Childhood hero? Elizabeth Manley – the Canadian figure skater who won silver at the 1988 Olympics.

Career highlight to-date? 3 Canadian championship medals in 3 different disciplines in 2014: XCO (bronze), XC Marathon (gold), and CX (bronze) – plus I earned my 4th Canada Cup Series overall title that season! And my best-ever World Cup result (13th in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada)!

Favourite place to train in Canada? Squamish, BC – although Bear Mountain in Victoria is catching up!

Favourite race? Favourite World Cup: Mont-Sainte-Anne; favourite Canada Cup: Baie-Saint-Paul, favourite XC Marathon: Just Another Bike Race (Squamish); favourite MTB stage race: Fernie 3; favourite CX: Winnipeg.

High sock or low? Mid? Because my legs are so short, even low socks look high on me!

Favourite food? Pizza!

Hobbies / pastimes away from cycling? Cooking, baking, travelling, drinking coffee, hanging out with friends and talking about cycling.

Favourite place to travel or race abroad? Racing in Europe is so amazing, because there are way more fans than in North America. And they make excellent coffee. It’s also a super-cool place to travel, because there is so much history and diversity. Last year I had the opportunity to do a training Camp in Livigno, Italy, which was awesome – there are so many trails and roads and the landscape is gorgeous. Then I got to train for a week on Alpe d’Huez and we had the most fantastic weather and it was just so beautiful – and talk about cycling history!

Favourite music? Indie rock. I enjoy bands like the Sheepdogs, Arcade Fire, Muse… but usually I don’t pay attention to who the artist is, I just like bopping along to the whatever is playing.

Favourite tv show or movie? I really enjoyed the first season of Jessica Jones – you know, a gritty, badass female lead character. As for movies, I like “O’ Brother Where Art Thou?” a lot. It’s super-funny, clever, and has a great soundtrack.

Interesting or little-known fact about you? I’m not really a redhead. Ha, ha, just kidding! I have three citizenships: Canadian, Swiss, and Austrian.