The track and road star plays in the dirt
Jasmin Duehring has been a key member of the current generation of Canadian track cycling team since riding as part of the bronze medalwinning women’s team pursuit squad at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. After eight years of nearly non-stop training and competition cycles, Duehring stepped back from things in the summer of 2017 to finish up a B.SC. in mathematics from Simon Fraser University, and enjoy an extended offseason filled with different flavours of two-wheeled fun.
You took a step back from competition in 2017 year. What led to that decision? And what did you do with your time?
I had it in my mind to mix things up a little bit. I went back to school full-time after the Rio Olympics in 2016. The following fall and all 2017 involved a lot of juggling to do the school work and still race on the track in select events and on the road with my team. It did catch up with me about midway through the season. I wasn’t really getting the results I wanted on the road so I was feeling pretty stressed in general. I made the decision to hang up my road bike in July. For two or three months straight, I rode my mountain bike every day. I got into ’cross this past fall and it’s been absolutely amazing. What could have been a low point on paper in my career has instead been great. I don’t think I have ever ended a year feeling so motivated and excited and grateful that this is my job. I get to wake up every day and choose which bike I am going to ride.
What has that taught you about keeping mentally refreshed?
I think you have to be really smart in using what time you have available to get some of that recovery. My off-season might normally get compressed to one week between the track world championships and when I want to start piling on the road miles. I’ve been doing that for the better part of the past eight years. That’s part of why I think it caught up with me a bit in 2017. It’s a very full schedule. I think I have always managed quite well, but I think I made the right call to take a step back and really get that overdue off-season, and all the fun that goes with it.
What were some of those fun highlights for you?
I’ve fallen head over heels in love with mountain biking. I lived in North Vancouver right in the middle of the Mount Seymour and Mount Fromme trails, and I think it’s some of the best mountain biking in the world. Squamish was just up the road so it opened my eyes to this whole new discipline that I’d never really pursued. Every trail, every obstacle is a new challenge that you try to figure out. It’s so rewarding. I am definitely going to stick with it. The benefits of the technical skills are obvious, but if you’re climbing a steep, rooty trail, that’s a really good workout. Once I put the road bike aside, the mountain bike became my new daily.
It’s the same thing with ’cross. I definitely got my butt kicked into shape there, too.
How did the return to student life affect you?
I’ve been studying mathematics. The whole motivation was to put my head down and get it done so I could come back to being a full-time athlete sooner rather than later. It ended up proving to be a big challenge. I had taken a few years off from my degree in the lead up to Rio, and it was not easy going back. It was definitely one of the toughest challenges I’ve had. Being a high-performance athlete, you get used to being good at things and competing at the highest level. Going back to school and feeling like it was so much harder for me than all my classmates who were also much younger than me, it was a lot to wrap my head around at first. I am so grateful that I went back. It took my family and friends encouraging me to go back and finish to help make it happen, but I am so glad to have finished it.
What’s ahead in 2018?
I’m excited to jump back into training. I’m moving to California to join my husband. It’s a bit of a life change for me. I’m sad to leave North Vancouver, but there’s a lot of opportunity to ride down there, too. I’ll keep working away on these new disciplines throughout the next few years: do some mountain bike racing and continue with ’cross. There’s no expectation. I just love it.
“For two or three months straight, I rode my mountain bike every day.”