Rider Profile: Sofia Torres
Interview with Sofia by Tayler Rae Dubé, Photography by Sofia Torres
I first met Sofia when she started working as a mechanic at my friend Brendan's bike shop, Silk Road Cycles, in Brooklyn. It took a while for us to get to know each other, but once I got to know Sofia I was blown away by her knowledge of bikes and parts. Her bike builds are completely drool worthy classics with a bit of a twist and, if that didn't make her cool enough, she rides them all primarily on dirt! Get to know Sofia more in our Q&A below!
How long have you been riding bikes and how did you get into the sport?
I had a bike growing up and I remember being fond of it. In college I borrowed a bike to get around on because it was quicker than walking. Toward the end of my senior year I started going on short exploratory rides just for kicks and discovered some fun dirt trails. It wasn’t until I was living in New York in 2010 that I decided I should probably know how bikes worked and I took apart and rebuilt my Peugeot commuter. Then I bought a frame and all the parts and built an extremely 2010-looking fixed gear. Then I just kept researching and building and learning but I didn’t start putting serious miles in until a couple years after that.
You ride a lot of dirt. What is your favorite bike for this type of riding? What bikes do you own?
Nearly all of my rides here in San Diego include at least a small bit of dirt. I have a 10 mile pavement commute to work — which I do on my cross bike — and when I have time I extend the trip so I can ride some trails in Balboa Park before or after work. I also have a favorite loop for my days off that has everything from climbing on pavement, a long washboard dirt descent, and some pretty good singletrack. My CAAD9 CX bike has been the favorite for a while… though I also currently have a 650b’d mid-eighties Trek and a single speed Vicious Cycles MTB.
I am always envious of how cool and retro (that rainbow cable housing!) your bikes are. What inspires your bike builds?
That housing is pretty rad! I think that my bike builds are generally experiments to try different approaches to the same idea: bikes that are fun off-road without compromising too much of their versatility. I got into bikes through working on older stuff (like early 80s steel) and I am still into square taper and rim brakes, though most of my builds merge styles and time periods for the sake of function. For example, my “road” bike has TA cyclo-touriste cranks with a 9-speed XTR drivetrain.
You moved from Brooklyn to San Diego in the past few years. Why the move? What do you miss most about NYC?
I got to a point where I was no longer enjoying my job and didn’t see myself moving forward if I stayed in New York. I also really missed the West coast, in an abstract way. I grew up in San Diego but New York feels more like home. I miss a lot about NYC, especially friends and Cunningham and Glacier Ridge and Rocky Point. I was able to spend a few days in the city last week (after moving a year ago) and it was awesome. I got to see all my friends and some of the Silk Road CX boys and I rode out to Cunningham and it was great even on my rando bike.
I always love seeing the adventures you and your pup Flynn get into. What is the best part about your travel companion and do you have any tips for going on bike adventures with dogs?
The best part is probably that he’s down for whatever. He’s been on two cross-country road trips with me totaling over 12,000 miles. When we lived in New York he’d ride to the park in a basket on my bike, but other than that my adventures with him are without a bike. I’d love to tour with him at some point, but for now we’ll stick to hiking. He’s a tiny terrier (sprinter, no endurance) otherwise he might have gotten trained to go MTB-ing by now. My only advice would be that if you have the good fortune to raise your dog from puppyhood, get him used to all modes of transportation asap.
What do you wish more women knew about cycling?
How much fun it is off the road! No pavement and no cars? It’s almost too good to be true.
What are you dreams for the cycling industry?
I’m not sure what my dreams are, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes after disc brakes.