Coryn Rivera blog: Who am I?

'I take a lot of pride in being American and a Californian – 'merica!'

Happy New Year everyone! I'm excited to be doing a blog with Cyclingnews this year! I think it will be cool to be able to entertain you and elaborate on women's professional cycling with my own thoughts. I want to take the first blog of the year to tell you a little more about myself and give you guys the chance to let me know what kind of blogs and topics you want to read about throughout the year! And heck, maybe I'll even dabble in some vlogs too! 

So – who am I? My name is Coryn Rivera; I race professionally on the road with Team Sunweb. I was born and raised in Southern California. Orange County will always be home to me, and when people ask me where I live, I say California even though I spend the better part of the year travelling and racing in Europe and all over the world. I take a lot of pride in being American and a Californian – 'merica! I love both flags and hearing the Star-Spangled Banner play. My family is also from the Philippines, both my parents were born there, and they met in the US. I'm also very proud of my ethnic background as it is very much a part of who I am. I have only been back to the Philippines twice; once when I was a baby and when I was 11, and I'm excited to go back at some point and see what it's like now that I'm older.

I'm going to be 26 in 2018, and I find that hard to write! I'm usually one of the younger riders on the team, but times are changing, and now I can't believe it when I hear some of my teammates or other racers are born in 1999 or 2000, and I immediately think I'm old as dirt!

When I was younger, I was always super active and competitive. I loved playing at recess when I was in grade school. I learned how to ride a bike with no training wheels when I was four years old. I distinctly remember the moment because our family was on summer vacation with the motorhome and my dad was trying to run beside me on a gravel road, and of course I crashed! Baptism by fire! My parents always taught me to be tough and after a few falls I eventually I figured it out. Nowadays, my first bike has been passed down from my sister to my cousins as their “first bike”. A little purple Mongoose still living its legacy seven kids later! It still has some of the original stickers I slapped on it when I was a kid. I also learned how to snowboard when I was four and started playing soccer, too.

Snowboarding is one of my favourite pastimes. We used to go to Mammoth every winter for a week, and I used to get a walkie-talkie and was free to roam the slopes as I pleased. For soccer, I typically played midfield or forward. I loved running the ball, stealing the ball back from the other team, and setting up my teammates for a score or taking a shot myself. I played soccer until I was about 11 when the bike started taking over my life!

Third place went to Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb)

My dad, or more famously known as Wally, had always been on two wheels. He used to race motocross in the Philippines and when he first came to the US. I guess I used to cry as a baby when he would start up the dirt bike! He later raced downhill MTB and won the 1999 Big Bear Amateur Cup. The next year he got hurt, and he eventually found himself on a road bike. I came into the fold of road riding when I was about nine years old or so. He and my mom, Lina, had a tandem they rode together, and I was finally big enough to ride stoker. It just started as a fun family thing to do together. Doing group rides with my parents' friends, and then doing organised half-century rides, then we eventually did metric centuries and full centuries. Always loved stopping at the SAG stops for a donut! I remember my dad and I did the Palm Springs Century, and I even laid my head on his back and fell asleep for a moment! But if I remember correctly we finished in 5 hours and 45 minutes … not bad for a dad and his kid that even fell asleep for a moment!

I eventually grew big enough to get my own road bike when I was ten years old. But I do remember it was a small mountain bike with slick tires and a pair of drop bars. We later found a proper road bike which was a 650 Cannondale, which I still have. My boyfriend, Nathan, turned it into a flat bar single-speed to cruise around on – it was a lovely surprise complete with Vans grips!

One of my dad's friends dared me to do this Shimano kid's race that went on during Redlands Bicycle Classic. The course was one-lap of the criterium course. He said if I won he would give me 20 bucks! I was excited, motivated, and always loved a good competition. I took off from the start and never looked back. I was stoked! One year later, we continued riding on the weekends with my parents' friends, doing organised group rides and grand fondos, and then went back to Redlands for the same race. One lap and another win later, I was slightly frustrated that I had to wait a whole year to race again. It was then that I entered the gauntlet that would shape the rest of my life. I got a racing licence, got junior gears, and got into real sanctioned races.

I remember my first real junior race was the LA Circuit Race where, together with the boys, I finished second in the sprint and cried that I didn't win, even if I was the first girl across the line. I raced the next weekend and made sure I beat that one boy – haha. Crying about a loss when I was 12 years old clearly meant that I was passionate about competition. Racing every weekend led into the state championships, then driving in the motorhome with the family to the national championships during summer vacation.

Coryn Rivera (USA) with her game face on

I also raced track and cyclo-cross national championships when I was a junior, but my main love was road racing. Something about being outside and the speed of the roads that I loved. By the time I was 17 and 18 years old, I had focused on going to junior world championships where I ended up getting a bronze medal in both the road race and the track Omnium in 2010. But before then, it was when I was about 13 or 14 years old when I would watch the full replay of the Tour de France on TV late at night - that's when a dream was born to someday race full-time in Europe.

The bike has brought me so many amazing opportunities. I have travelled all over the world and met so many people thanks to two wheels. But it hasn't always just been about bike racing for me. After my junior racing years, I attended Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana with a cycling scholarship. I'm happy to say that I graduated in December of 2015 with a Bachelors degree in Business Marketing with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I love what I do and I'm so thankful for everything that the bike has given me.

Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this blog or on any of my social media accounts: Twitter @CorynRivera, Instagram @corynrivera, Facebook page www.facebook.com/CorynRiveraRacing. I would love to hear what tickles your fancy!

Coryn Rivera is a professional cyclist racing for Team Sunweb. She was born and raised in Orange County, California, and entered her first bike race at the Redlands Bicycle Classic kids race. Rivera had a break-out season in her first year with Team Sunweb in 2017, winning Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio,Tour of Flanders, Prudential RideLondon Classique, and the team time trial at the World Championships.

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