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Interview with Molly Cameron: Vegan Cyclocross Racer

 A World Cup veteran and local superstar, Molly Cameron is a world traveling cyclocross racer. Founder of both a bicycle shop and custom bicycle studio in Portland, Oregon, Molly brings passion and energy to her racing, business and life.

Molly_Cameron

Why Vegan?
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I never liked meat. Even as a kid, I never wanted to touch the stuff. I went vegetarian in my teens, almost by accident. My family did not have a particularly healthy diet; fast food was all we could seem to afford. When I was able to make my own decisions about what I ate, I chose to eat veg.
 
How long have you been vegan?
Since 1999. Over 13 years
 
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
Not eating crap. My lifestyle is pretty minimal. Just doing my part to make the planet a better place.
 
What does veganism mean to you?
Taking responsibility for and being conscious of what I put into my body.
 
Training
What sort of training do you do?
Like all bicycle racers: lots and lots of hours spent on the bike. I'll include strength/core work, weight lifting and running in the off-season and pre-season. On-the-bike workouts vary during a race season from long unstructured rides to short and intense interval sessions.
 
How often do you (need to) train?
Daily! A PRO rides their bicycle every day, whether for active recovery or challenging workouts. 20-30 hours a week on the bike.
 
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
I do! I am a cycling coach and work with a range of clients from beginners to elite athletes. Writing up training plans, working on a daily one-on-one basis with athletes, teaching clinics and leading workouts and classes.
 
What sports do you play?
My speciality is Cyclocross racing. I also race on the road, track and do a little mountain bike racing when I can.
 
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
That the diet will hinder athletic performance, aka "where do you get your protein and Iron?"
 
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
My ability to consume lots and lots of food and not take myself too seriously.
 
What is your biggest challenge?
Finding the energy to cook really good meals when I am too exhausted to stand after hard rides.
 
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
Cycling is a pretty big "industry". For the most part, sure. Veganism is nothing new to the bicycle-racing scene. If anything, my shortcomings get attributed to my vegan diet and my successes are viewed as "in spite of" my vegan diet. Annoying, but I can't win everything.
 
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Friends and family? Absolutely. 
 
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
"Where do you get your protein?"  My answer: "From food."
 
Who or what motivates you?
Intense, driven people, that can still crack a smile and enjoy life. They motivate me.

Molly_C

Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - oatmeal, toast or pasta on race days. Coffee.
Lunch - usually on the bike food like bananas and PROBARS.
Dinner - Quinoa, Kale, beans, more greens!
Snacks (healthy & not-so healthy) - Chocolate. Love chocolate.
I don't eat in a typical 3 meals a day style. I'll eat food all day long in smaller portions to keep my blood sugar and energy levels consistent.

What is your favourite source of Protein, Calcium and Iron:
I don't know if I have favourites. I eat a lot of quinoa, rice and kale, beans, veggies, veggies, veggies and I'll eat a little fake meat stuff once in a while for fun. Though, I don't eat any soy. I try to stay away from heavily processed and manufactured food.
 
What foods give you the most energy?
I love veggies. Broccoli, Kale, I can't get enough of it! I should mention PROBARS. I love them, they are balanced, vegan, whole food bars with a lot of calories and great, simple ingredients in them. When training, I'll take a bunch of bananas and a few PROBARS to fuel me through a 6-hour ride.
 
Do you take any supplements? 
I have taken iron and a multivitamin in the past. Not really taking any supplements in the last year. I just kind of stopped last season, no reason. I try to keep the processed food to a minimum. I get my blood tested regularly to make sure I am getting everything I need.

Advice
What is your top tip for:
For other cyclists and bicycle racers, this is general advice:
Gaining muscle - Lifting weights and cross training in the gym is a start.
Losing weight - Ride your bike. Ride your bike. Ride your bike. Eat a couple hundred calories every hour you are on the bike. Never finish a ride hungry as that might make you overeat later.
Maintaining weight - Eat regularly. Small meals several times a day.
Improving metabolism - Exercise daily. Even a 30 minute easy spin on the bike will keep the metabolism going.
Toning up - Eat your veggies. Skip the processed carbs.

How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
By riding the best and hardest I can.
 
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Shoot me an email, visit me at Portland Bicycle Studio or, come say hello at a bicycle race.
 
 
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