Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gravel Grinder & Commuter Interview - Kiatonda Oslin

I don't remember when I first met Kit. But she seemed to be just about everywhere I was riding. I think I actually knew the aura of Kit before I met her. There was always this rad woman who was at every group ride or event I was doing but crushing them. She was always there. Consistent and smooth. When you get to know her you find out that she likes heavy metal music, multiple shots of espresso at once, and all things Bianchi. And she is one of the most encouraging and inspiring riders around. But the best word that I think describes her is badass, in the good way. Here she is in her own words.

How did you get into cycling? 
My daughter moved away for college and I no longer knew what to do with all my free time.  I got a bike to ride just for exercise and to be outside and explore, however I have always played sports growing up so I found that I renewed my competitive streak and started wanting to find others that liked to ride and push themselves.  I took my bike to work one day and was going to ride after work and my boss saw it, and said, "I didn't know you rode?"  I told him just for exercise and fun.  He invited me to ride with him one day.  When we rode he told me I should be racing, and I said, nah, probably not race, but would love to meet other people to ride with and learn to group ride.  That Christmas he bought me a SPBRC club membership and the entry to the Beginner Race Program and my bonus for that year at work was an Orbea Onix.  This started all the madness.  ;)  I went to the beginner race program the 1st night with intentions of just meeting people to ride with and left there determined I would race that year and I did.  My first year of racing I did 47 races, I then knew I was addicted, but also knew it would evolve. 

Who inspires you to ride? Why? 
EVERYONE!  I love riding in general and find inspiration in every single person I get to meet and ride with.  Sharing stories, accomplishments, passion sets me on fire.  So, I have to say there is not one particular person really, I'm not really a fan girl of a particular pro racer, I find inspiration from getting new people (especially women) into cycling.  To meet someone (and this happens every year) that tells me, I ride by myself, but I want to ride in a group and feel comfortable.  This was me, so I get it and I know what it takes to get past the fear and be opened up to where cycling can take you and I love to lead others down this path, and am so grateful for opportunities through NOW Bikes Arden Hills to have the platform to do this each summer, by leading their ladies rides each summer. 

What is your fascination with Bianchi all about?
OH, now you are in trouble....  ;)  as I mentioned before I started riding on an Orbea, and actually my second bike was a Orbea Ora TT bike, and my 3rd commuter was a TREK Portland (which I sold immediately, it just did not connect with my body)   All of these except the TREK were bonuses from work.  Now, it was time for me to upgrade my road bike and I was still racing but also enjoying doing century rides all over the cities, so I wanted a bike I could race but also be comfortable on long rides.  And this time I would want to pick perfection as I was using my own money.  Fortunately I am still a member of SPBRC and racing for them through Grand Performance so we get some great club deals on bikes and components and Dan takes very good care of me.  So I was off, the 1st bike I rode was the Bianchi Infinito C2C and I fell head over heals with the way the bike felt like an extension of me, I felt like a little kid, I could play and be punchy but also would ride from morning until dark and want to get up the next day and do it all over again.  You just can't beat that feeling, especially at age 40.  But I didn't want to get carried away (surprise)  so I went out and test rode some other brands and models that compared to the Infinito.  Specialized, TREK, Cannondale, Fuji, etc...  but all I wanted was to go back to the Infinito and ride it again.  So I did, and again nothing compared to the ride of this bike.  Since that day, I have been adopted into an amazing Bianchi Family of Bianchi shop dealers, associates, and bike owners and I treasure these people with all my heart.  We truly are a family!  Since that first Infinito I now have the Infinito CV that I upgraded almost 2 years ago, I have the Bianchi Zurigo for my gravel/snow bike, and I have a Bianchi San Jose single speed for when I feel the need for steel.  I love them all, they all have their purpose, and I am always learning what Bianchi has coming next and making plans for what will be added to the stable.

What is your greatest accomplishment on the bike?
I'm still working on my big goal which will come in 2019, but to date my biggest accomplishment is probably the 16,000+ miles I rode last season, and completing my 1st 1,200K event last September.

What do you like most about bike commuting? 
Mostly just not being stuck in traffic, and free to just pedal and pass cars, meet up with friends.  You feel a sense of freedom, accomplishment and a smile that is hard to remove when you get home for the day.  It just makes you feel good.
**her commute is 20 miles one way. 

What is it you like most about gravel biking? 
It is very different than road.  It's very similar to the same reason I'll ride a 600K, but when I race I love to CRIT.  It's a shift mentally.  Long rides are about convincing yourself you are not tired, or sore and you can keep going, you are strong,  you can complete this.  CRITs and Gravel are more mental.  CRITS are me against what other people might do, how you can play and get away.  Gravel is about constantly finding that line, and staying on top of it. Then when you get to mix Gravel with Long Distance, like DaMN (Day across Minnesota) ...  HEAVEN!!!!

How do you convince/inspire women to move from spin class to outdoor riding?
For me, at times is it a challenge, because of the type of riding I do for myself, sometimes, if they don't know me, they are intimidated.  As if I couldn't possibly want to do a 20 mile ride or ride at 13-15mph.  But for me, I love those rides just as much.  I love talking to them while they ride with me and being able to physically show them an example of how to ride in a paceline, or sit on someone's wheel.   If I can talk them into coming out once, most always they are hooked.  And if they are friends of mine that want to try group riding, it's a piece of cake.  It's hard to hold in all the excitement and passion I have for cycling so I like to share it with everyone that feels it too, even if it's just a little bit, it grows like wildfire!

What is on your bucket list for rides?

My big goals this year are to do my 3rd R12 (200K a month consecutively in the state of MN,, my 4th and 5th SR (Super Randonneur 200, 300, 400, 600K- I want to do this twice this year)  and I will do another 1200K this year - Next year is my big goal of doing ParisBrestParis 1200K,  This only happens once every 4 years so 2019 is my year.   

What music playlist are you listening to now when you ride?

* I like an array of music much to peoples surprise, as I do listen to a lot of heavy metal, it's just something about the angry drive of guitars and double kick drum that gets me hyped up, but I also like Styx, Journey, Zeppelin, etc.  Even a couple of country songs, but not a big country fan.  So, I don't really create playlists that often, I just pick genres and roll with whatever comes on. It's all just depends on my mood for the moment.

What social media connections would you like to share?

I'm on all of them.  I am inspired by seeing what everyone is sharing and what they are up to.  If feels like a way to stay connected to like minded people when you can't always see them face to face everyday.  I do my best to stay surrounded on social media and in real life to positive vibes that aspire you to do and be more.  
         Kiatonda "Kit"  Dawn Oslin - facebook 
         kito1968 - Instagram
         @kiatonda - twitter
         Kit Oslin - Strava

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