Interview w/ Meaghan Harris 2.0
Damn, it's been a long time and thousands of miles since our first interview. A ton has happened in your life since we last spoke or should I say since I last interviewed you?
Last time we talked you had just left your job as a teacher to start something new....working at a bike shop. Is working at a shop everything it's cracked up to be?
Ha. Well, I will focus on the positives here and say that I was able to meet and form great friendships with some really awesome people. It was good to spend a year in the bike industry and get a glimpse into how a shop is run (and realize more about how a shop should be run); in addition, my friend/ co-worker Paul taught me a lot about basic to intermediate bike mechanics and really the importance of understanding how things work, Without that time in the shop I probably wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to be an athlete ambassador for Liv/Giant- an experience that also afforded me the opportunity to meet more awesome people, race triathlons all around the country, and get more females interested and excited about bikes.
What would you say is this best and worst part about working in a shop?
Best: Well- I was working around bikes all day which was great. I really enjoyed my experience as a professional bike fitter, and learning the ins and outs of different systems. I liked always being informed on the industry and new product, which kind of just came naturally working at the shop, between talking to vendors, researching new great/ product, and reviewing new catalogs from different companies.
Worst- ah... lets not get into that right now. Lets just say "it wasn't the right fit."
Obviously you are no longer working in the shop since I haven't seen you in almost a year. Where are you calling home nowadays?
On January 1st, 2013 I packed up all that my vehicle could hold, and as YOU would assume- plenty of ride snacks, and headed west. Along the way I stopped to ride with a friend who lives in Arizona, I chilled out for a few days with Dan Empfield and some Slowtwitchers, and then eventually landed some where near Santa Barbara, California. I currently live in the town of Carpinteria- the area is great for riding, running, hiking, and basically being active out doors. If I swim it's outdoors whether it be in a pool or the ocean... fortunately we don't run into the lame restrictions that always seemed to plague popular open water swimming spots in Long Island. It's kind of understood that "hey this place is awesome and you should take advantage of that..."
It seems that every athlete, cyclist, runner, swimmer wants to head west. Is the West coast the best coast for training?
You're flipping right it is. I can't even explain it- but I think YOU understand it a bit- didn't you live out here at one time? I know you've raced and trained out here... it's just beautiful. And as a cyclist you can't really ask for more- cycling traffic is built into the infrastructure. While I often find myself on mountain roads while on a road bike as I like to get away from the hustle and bustle (and just people in general), the busier local streets have wide bike lanes- for heavens sake they HAVE BIKE LANES!
I know you were signed up for Ironman Lake Placid, your first Ironman, but you weren't able to toe the line. What happened?
Well, speaking of bike lanes... maybe sometimes they aren't all they're cracked up to be... at least when people aren't paying attention. On April 29th I was going for a short morning ride before work and, while riding, was struck by a car. We were riding side by side, her in the traffic lane me in the bike lane, and she just made a right hand turn into me to park on the side of the road. Never even looked, just turned her Lexus right into me. I ended up smashing most of my right side into the curb. There were cops and an ambulance, a police photographer- the works. Aside from the scrapes, bruises, blood, and busted up bike wheels, the greatest injury that I sustained was a tear in my meniscus. It was a really dark time for me- being immobile is not something I am used to- well, I guess no one is USED to it. But being an athlete and being active is just such a big part of who I am- it was hard to have that taken away even for a short time.
Despite having your triathlon season cut short you still managed to do an amazing amount of pedaling. Can you talk about your cycling season?
Well, once I got over the huge disappointment of not being able to run for quite a while, I racked up plenty more miles on the bike. There are so many awesome places to ride here so that's exactly what I did- I rode pretty much every day. Climbing mountains all the time you'd think by now I would be a better descender! Anyway, in August I completed a 2 day stage race called The Everest Challenge- 208 miles of riding with 30,000 feet of elevation gain... dubbed the hardest two day stage race anywhere. It was a pretty awesome experience. I felt surrounded by dedicated athletes- I felt at home!
Through the amazing pictures you have sent me of the roads and vistas I have noticed your stable of bikes has increased. Do you still have a partnership with Giant or did you just max out your credit card?
Ha! I am on a tight budget these days and rarely use that plastic! I am still an ambassador for Liv/giant. Recently I started riding on the Liv/giant Envie Advanced 0. It is by far the best road bike I have ever ridden- not only is it fast, it's super stiff and SO nimble. The bike handles like no other. I have ridden plenty of road bikes- Specialized, Trek, Scott, Cervelo,... I have to say, I feel like this bike was built FOR me.
Besides pedaling what else have you been doing to keep yourself busy?
I was getting back into running but tweaked my calf a bit recently- I wanted to challenge myself to climb some stuff and go pretty long, but may have taken it a little too far. It was just one of those days that I was feeling awesome and didn't want the awesome to stop- so after running 8 miles out and ascending about 1800 feet- I still had to turn around and go home,... agh. I am wishing I had thought that through better but I guess hind sight is 20/20. I have also been hiking a bit. More than anything else I have become a little obsessed with mountain biking... and I have the cuts and bruises to prove it! It's definitely been something that challenges me both mentally and physically. I think bike handling skills has been my biggest limiter. Luckily I have some patient people that I ride with and teach me a thing or two... because I have plenty to learn!
Assuming you regain your health, do you have any plans to race next season?
I have some things in mind but generally have been keeping my race schedule to myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself and it's hard when other people start asking you about your upcoming competitions. Plus it really grinds my gears when people ask things like "so are you READY?" What does that even mean? There will definitely be some triathlons and bike races on the calendar for 2014.
Can we expect to see you on the East coast any time soon?
I don't have any plans to visit the east coast any time soon, but I really do miss my friends and family. It's weird to have left everything you've ever known. The friendships that I have with people from home aren't ones that can be replaced.
Best advice to become a beast on the bike?
Ride it like you stole it.
Shut up and pedal.
Overgearing is the sh*t.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable
Climb. A lot.
Anything else we should know about West Coast Meg?
Oh, please,... Forget everything you think you know about me... ;]
I am starting to believe that whole "everything happens for a reason" thing... Life is good.
I am still waiting for east coasters to come out here for a nice long training weekend... hint hint !!