IT RIDES...IN THE FAMILY
Growing up with a motorcycle racing dad, Rachel Strait didn’t have to go far to discover a love of two-wheeled speed. When she was young, her family followed the race calendar and all participated. After each race, dad would pin their number plates on their travel trailer door and have the kids write down their place, how they did, and their goals for the next race. Twenty years later, the same thoughtful approach defines Rachel’s way of training, racing, and living. She’s created an approach that allows her to take a holistic view of time on and off the bike.
A BALANCED PROGRAM
“I used to be all-in on racing cross-country, but as I get older I want to try new things,” says Strait, “At first, I focused on Enduro, but I’m branching out and trying other areas as well: Dual Slalom, Pump Track, Air DH.” Her newfound embrace of a broader range of riding has allowed her to put energy into one of her favorite things: progress. “I love the challenge of bringing my mental state in-line with my ability on the bike, and vice versa,” she says, “So often we hold ourselves back in our head when really, our bodies can achieve what we’re aiming for.”
Strait is no stranger to pushing herself to perform. But as she’s gotten a little older, her attitude has evolved as well, “I’m fortunate that my sponsorship relations are not all based on my results,” says Strait, “I have clear goals that I want to achieve, and I want to be stoked on how I ride my races, but not get overly worried about my exact placings. Inside, though, I want to make the podium every time I line up.”
REAL LIFE=REAL GEAR
Living a life around bikes means taking them places. For Strait, that’s even more true, given travel for training, racing, and just plain old playtime. “For daily use, it’s the Dr. Tray. I love that rack. It makes traveling with bikes so easy and convenient,” she says. When it’s time to load up for more extended road time, Strait and her husband, professional rider and two-time Red Bull Rampage champion Kyle Strait, kit out the vehicle to make things smoother.
“Longer trips call for a more detailed set-up,” she says, “When we travel, we’ve got the HangOver, the SkyRise HD, and the SlimShady. They make being on the road super easy. We did two Baja trips last year and brought boards and bikes. Having a mobile base camp makes it super fun,” says Strait, “And when we go to Whistler, we bring so many bikes that on the way home we always make a couple stops, just to ride and have some adventures. It’s so convenient to have the tent on top and just be able to pick your spot.”
2020 was on track to bring more of this to life, with another season competing on the CrankWorx tour. But then everything changed. Everywhere. For everyone. With the global impact of COVID-19 still unfolding, Strait’s schedule for the year is on hold. “This year, the CrankWorx events were pushed up a bit. We had less time to prepare and were a little bummed initially, but now in the scope of things we’re thankful for that. It meant we were lucky to get to do the first stop of CrankWorx in New Zealand, before everything shut down.”
As for what’s next, Strait is in the same spot as all of us: waiting. “For now, I have the same schedule planned, just a little postponed,” she says. For anyone who’s active, the current situation can take its toll. Being inside, staying away from favorite spots to ride and taking extra precautions is hard, but necessary. It’s no different for the Straits, “It’s been pretty hard. We’re making sure we’re really cautious any time we do ride. We live on 10 acres and can ride on the property,” says Strait, ”We’re trying to eat really healthy as well, to keep our immune system strong, and just trying to lessen our trips out.”
Off the bike, Strait’s also trying new things, “I’ve been tapping into my crafty side,” she says, “Which I didn’t know I had! I started to macramé, which is pretty cool. I don’t think of myself as creative, but it appeals to my analytical side.”
RIDE HARD, BE NICE
Now more than ever, Strait is spending time and energy on mental health, ”It’s easy to get down and feel depressed,” she says, “Riding is such a great way to keep your endorphins up and your system strong. Getting into some sort of routine makes such a difference, keeping up those connections however you can.”
Last, but most, she’s emphasizing something we can all rally behind in uncertain times, “Most importantly: Be kind. Even when you’re scared,” she says. For someone used to managing her fears as part of her profession, those are important words.
Rachel Strait | Yakima Rackpack’r | @rachelstrait1