After winning an Olympic medal, Georgia Gould found herself re-evaluating her outlook on mountain bike racing.
The 36-year-old Fort Collins resident went all out after her bronze at the 2012 Games, competing through the following fall and winter without taking a break. Then her results began to falter. She was going hard, training harder than ever but not finishing at the front of the pack. She toyed with the idea of retiring.
"The thing that kept me going was that my training was really good. I knew I was making progress. It was a hard thing mentally to separate that from results," she says. "I had finally made it to the top. I thought, 'I deserve to be here,' instead of thinking that you have to earn that every single race. You have to earn it every time."
The psychology major has since arrived at a Zen-like attitude toward competition. She trains hard, goes hard and feels good knowing she's done her best.
Coincidentally, she's maintained her spot as one of the top-five cross-country riders in the U.S. for the last two years and is diving into the 2016 season with aspirations of landing a spot in the Rio Games.
"Going into this Olympic year, I don't have the anxiety that I've had in the past," she says. "While I'd love to go and represent again, if it doesn't happen, I'm OK."
When she's not out crushing a trail somewhere, you can find her decked in beekeeper garb "geeking out" over her hives.
"Don't even get me started," she says before launching into a detailed, 45-minute long discussion on the art and science of beekeeping.
The amiable Colorado transplant (originally from Maryland via Ketchum, ID, where she fell in love with mountain biking) is also not afraid of disclosing her training secrets.
"Everything is public on Strava–my heart rates, circuits, trails … everything. I like to help people as much as I can. I never think of that stuff as proprietary."
Oh yes, Gould also loves to cook. She believes in no restrictions and keeps her diet pretty loose.
"That's something I've done in the past, the low-carb, high fat-burning plan. That was a disaster for my body," she says. "My conclusion over the years is that a sensible diet is the best thing for me. The majority of pros I know have a philosophy of eating more healthy things and less crap. It's not that you can't eat any crap…just less. It's not like I can't have a piece of birthday cake, or enjoy a cookie. You can have a bacon cheeseburger sometimes."
Gould comes into the 2016 GoPro Mountain Games fresh out of the Southern Hemisphere, where she kicked off the UCI World Cup season. With top-three results in the last two GoPro Cross Country races, including missing the win by a mere 0.19 seconds in 2014, the Olympic medalist will be gunning for the podium again as well as trying her two wheels at the inaugural Enduro race.