When you think of your 7th grade experience, it likely brings back memories of sleepovers with friends, summer camps, and school field trips. Most women do not take up cycling until later in life; college years or beyond. Pumping tires, kitting up and pinning race numbers isn't a typical part of being a preteen.
Ivory Furnari is showing us that we did it wrong by waiting to step into the cycling world. At just 13, she's already been racing for a solid year and shows no signs of slowing down. After joining a swim team, Ivory's coach suggested triathlon. She was hooked, but after deciding running isn't her favorite, she naturally started gravitating towards the bike. "Cycling is just different, it's fun and easier to focus on the one sport", comments Ivory. Buying a race bike isn't in every 7th graders budget, but that didn't stop Ivory. She earned money by setting up a lemonade stand next to a golf course and combined with her savings, was enough to purchase her first race bike. Starting to feel like your childhood was less productive and focused than it could have been? Yeah, me too. However, Ivory isn't out to brag. She's extremely down to earth and understands that being a young athlete isn't all fun and games; it takes focus and discipline. Training on the bike (along with some swimming, weights, and running for cross training), takes a big chunk of her schedule. "If I have a ride to do, I can't always hang out with friends" she comments. This adolescent sacrifice hasn't phased her. "I don't feel like I'm missing out because I really like cycling, so it’s okay ya know?", she simply shrugs it off.
Ivory hopes to inspire other young girls to take up cycling like she has. Mostly because she wants more competition. Just like other women's cycling field sizes, junior’s races see small entry numbers. "I'm very competitive, I like racing against others and I want to win", Ivory says about her drive to race in larger fields. One thing that has helped her motivation in the sport has been racing for Welland Racing Team. Welland Racing has a strong juniors development team of nine athletes, 2 being female. The Welland team has worked hard to provide focus, support, social networking and training for young talent in hopes of developing future success. Ivory enjoys having the ability to interact with a big team but keeps an emphasis on racing being social and fun. In 2018, the team added a Domestic Elite Women's roster of 6 strong female racers and this has provided needed inspiration for young Ivory. "I was watching the DET (Domestic Elite Team) at the pro races and they’re really fast! I want to be that fast!" exclaims Ivory when asked about how the addition of the DET has affected her racing. She also acknowledged that the older, elite women allow her to see her own future of racing and gives her a support group to ask questions and get assistance.
Hesitant to start cycling? Ivory's best advice is "Start slow, practice often, get better and just keep going". Who said older is wiser?
Good luck Ivory! Thanks for being an inspiration to women in the sport and youth everywhere.
Written By: Lori Nedescu, MS RD CSSD @CadenceKitchen