An interesting trend I’ve noticed in doing these rider profiles for almost 5 years now is the number of Seattle-area competitive cyclists (especially women) who discover previously unknown athletic abilities later in life–after college or even well into their professional careers. Jocelyn Setter is a fledgling biochemist whose cycling was limited to commuting. After a couple of attempts at racing it eventually clicked for her and with only two years of racing in her legs she has quickly risen through the ranks.
As I was working on this post I mistakenly read Jocelyn’s name as “Jet Setter” a couple times. To the extent this blog has the credibility to give nicknames, this one is probably appropriate!
Place of Birth:
Wichita, KS, but grew up in Manorville, NY
B.S. Biochemistry from the University of Washington
I’m a research associate at a biotechnology company in Bothell; we work in developing novel chemotherapy drugs for cancer.
Specialized Amira (race bike)
Specialized Transitions (TT bike)
Specialized Roubaix (winter training/rain bike)
Giant TCX (cross bike)
Specialized StumpJumper 29er (mountain bike)
an old Trek mountain bike (my first bike and the one I commuted on in college)
Kestrel RT700 (old race bike)
The last 3 bikes I bought I purchased from Woodinville Bicycle; they are the best bike shop!
Tell us about how you discovered bicycle racing:
I had been commuting to work and classes on an old mountain bike in college, and eventually bought my first road bike (an old steel KHS frame) in 2008. At the time I was working with Brook Nunn, who is a really talented athlete and cyclist. After riding with her on occasion she inspired me to stop picking on the commuters and try my hand at racing. I entered my first race in 2008 on my steel commuter, having no clue what I was doing – what was drafting? Look at all the fancy outfits and bikes! On the first hill I got dropped, and finished 2nd to last place. After that I kind of lost interest in the whole racing idea and just continued commuting to work, but in 2009 Brook sold me a carbon frame and I decided to give it another shot. This time I felt stronger and had a better idea of what to expect, but managed to crash 1km from the finish and again finished 2nd to last. After that I had a fire lit under my belly and decided to take it more seriously and join the Hagens Berman cycling team for the 2010 season. The women on the team were very talented and supportive, and I think it made a huge difference in my success after that. I had a lot to learn, especially considering that I had never really been a serious athlete before.
How do you balance all of your athletic pursuits with work and the other aspects of your life?
It’s definitely a challenge to balance training and racing with the rest of my life. I have a pretty full and inflexible work schedule, and I’m also a wife, home-owner and mom to my (very energetic) golden retriever. Luckily my husband is really supportive and has been amazing in helping me pursue my goals! I don’t have nearly as much time to train and recover as I would like to, but that just means I have to make what time I do have really count. I have definitely had to make sacrifices, I don’t have nearly the social life that I used to, but luckily I’ve met some pretty great friends in the cycling community. I also have the best support group: a great family, a great bike shop, great training partners and a great coach. They have all really contributed to my success and been a huge help.
What is your training schedule like?
Right now I’m enjoying some off-time from serious training and I’ve been having a lot of fun getting out on the trails on my mountain and cross bikes. Pretty soon I’ll start back up on the road bike more consistently, and generally I train in the range of 10-15 hours a week. I tend to have shorter, more focused workouts on the weeknights after work, and get my longer rides in on the weekends.
Tell us about your work with biochemistry:
I work in a research group that focuses on developing novel therapeutics for cancer. I spend a lot of the day in a chemistry lab, sporting a lab coat and goggles. A typical day involves setting up a reaction in the lab, then analyzing the data by a technique called mass spectrometry. It’s really interesting work, and of course it’s very fulfilling knowing that your work may one day contribute to saving lives.
As far as cycling goes, what are some of your racing highlights? What have been your most memorable races? Why?
My proudest accomplishment in cycling definitely has to do with how quickly I rose through the ranks. I started the season in March 2010 as a Cat 4 with no upgrade points, and 2 months later I was a Cat 2. By August 2010 I won my first race in the Cat1/2 field. I had a stellar start to my season this year and by April 2011 I was a Cat 1. I finished the 2011 season 2nd in the WSBA rider rankings, I am pretty proud of that!
Some of my favorite racing highlights from 2011 are:
-1st Sequim Road Race #1 and #2
-1st Independence Valley
-1st Walla Walla Criterium
-1st Wenatchee Omnium GC
-1st Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium
-3rd LWV #2 (Gig Harbor)
This was my first full season in the Cat1/2 field and it was filled with a lot of ups and downs. I learned a lot about how to race, about myself and what I am capable of, and I took something valuable away from each race I did. Those are some very memorable races to me, for different reasons.
By far the highlight of my season was when I traveled to the east coast in June to race. I was a guest rider on a DC-based elite women’s team, CAWES (who are really awesome girls), and got to compete in the prestigious Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, PA. For my first time going to a bigger race, this was pretty huge. It was a UCI-level race, the peloton was stacked with pro’s from Europe, as well as multiple current and past National/World/Olympic champions. I was excited and scared out of my mind, and got my butt thoroughly kicked. But hey, I got to bump elbows with the rainbow jersey, and descend through the caravan after I got dropped, so I felt pretty pro, especially considering I was a Cat 4 the year before! The next weekend I participated in the Air Force Cycling Classic, 2 NRC criteriums in Washington, D.C. We are pretty spoiled in the Northwest as far as the heat and humidity goes, so I suffered greatly during those races in that regard, but really had an amazing time racing at that level. I also garnered new respect for professional athletes, the time zone changes and travel really affected me and my performance, I am not sure I could do it full time! But after competing at that level, I am really hungry and motivated to go do more.
What competitions are you looking forward to next year?
I still am deciding which races I am going to focus on for 2012. As I mentioned I am really motivated to compete in more regional and national-level races, but I have to choose carefully as I have to balance how much time I can take off work to travel, so I am still putting a lot of thought into it. I’m also looking forward to racing with a new team for 2012, Keller Rohrback. They are a good group, with a lot of experience and talent, so I’m excited for next season. Locally I hope they bring back more criteriums on the calendar in the summertime, I love crits!
What’s your favorite Seattle-area ride?
I love training in the hills around Bothell/Woodinville/Kirkland, but I think my favorite ride is out past Duvall up to Lake Margaret. The riding out in the Snoqualmie Valley is really beautiful.
Do you have advice for other women thinking about getting serious about cycling in general or bicycle racing?
I would say if you have any interest at all, reach out to some of the women on the local teams. It can be an intimidating sport for a beginner, but getting some mentoring through a team is really helpful. It helps to have people to ride with as well, getting the motivation to ride in the Northwest winter can be a challenge and having a fun group can make all the difference! I would also say check out the WSBA website, there is a whole section devoted to women’s cycling. We definitely need more women racing so if you or anyone you know is interested, we hope to see you out there and definitely reach out!
Also I think it’s important, especially for women, to make the time for themselves and for riding. We are often busy juggling a lot of responsibilities, but making time to get outside and exercise should become a daily priority – and riding a bike is a fun way to accomplish that! Find ways to make the time – adjust work schedules, get up earlier, cut out TV time – it can sometimes be stressful trying to make it happen, but in the end it’s worth it.
We are a really friendly group; we are competitive in the races but we are all good friends, too. It’s a great community. I hope to see more women out racing, it really is a fun sport.