Chloe Black - Professional Road & Track Cyclist
By Guest Contributotor Steven Ryder
What makes Chloe Black a high performance road and track competitive cyclist on the pro circuit in Canada and her winter home in Tucson, Arizona? Growing up in Peterborough, she raced for 27 years and retired in July 2013. She was inducted in the Peterborough & District Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
Chloe was a member of the National Team from 1995- 2000. She won a bronze medal while representing Canada in Cuba in 1999. She was the 1994, 95, 96 Ontario Sprint Points Race and Pursuit Champion. In 2013, she won the Elite Women’s 37.9 km race at the Ontario Criterium Cycling Championship in Toronto. She was the Chair of Ontario Cycling Association Development Committee from 2005 to 2007. She coached the Team USA Men’s Paralympics Tandem team to a World Championship and to a spot on the London 2012 Paralympics Team. Chloe has dedicated her life to the sport of cycling and in retirement, has transitioned from a pro cyclist to sharing her love and passion for the sport. As a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists, she gives back to the sport by providing skills programs and as a coach and mentor to cycling.
I asked Chloe about her first and last race wins. “My first win was the Tour of Robertsonville in Quebec. It was just east of Montreal and was an 88 km race. In my head I knew I wanted to win, but it was the first time I realized you have to have a plan. It may not work, but you have to have one. I got dropped on the first hill, chased back on and had so much momentum I went right through the field and won. My thought was that I don’t know how this is happening. I felt unqualified even though I had won the race. There were women on the National team there, so I felt like a fraud”, said Chloe.
She continued, “My last win was in Toronto in the one hour race at CNE CHIN Picnic in 2013. It was the last time I raced. It’s one of my favourite races. My dad asked to come with me and he had a great time. I remember being on the line and realizing that I was the oldest woman on the field at 44 years of age. I also remember thinking there are women there racing Masters that were young-
er than me. And I thought, why did I register for Elite? But it was too late, and it was an aggressive race. I was playing a conservative part, which isn’t like me, as I like to be in the mix. I really wanted to win. There were a couple of breakaways and I remember thinking do I participate in the chase? You only have so many bullets and I like to use them wisely. I was being very uncharacteristic in my conservatism. At one point, my dad said I was in over my head (she laughs). I won it in a photo finish. That last race, it was like every single thing I did worked, and that doesn’t usually happen.
Just over a month after that last race, I started getting pain in my leg and I thought it was an overuse injury. It wouldn’t go away. Eventually I saw a back researcher, and he assessed me. I had fractured my L3 vertebrae in a crash in 1993. I didn’t know it at the time, but it made sense looking back since it was an excruciatingly painful injury. I had broken my ribs during the same accident.
Racing for the National Team was an honour because you get to represent your country and they cover all your expenses to get to the races. For women and some men, it was a lot of hustling to get you out there. You were self-motivated and unapologetic about your drive. Back then, you did it because it’s in your DNA, you didn’t get much money. Even though you are doing it for way less money than you should be, the option of not doing it isn’t an option.”
If Chloe had not been injured would she still be racing? “There was a time when I would have been hands down yes, absolutely. When I was racing it was big it was because Steve Bower and Greg Lemond were doing good in North America and it was a novelty we hadn’t seen in quite awhile. I was really lucky to race in the 90’s because that was right at the end of their big wins. North America exploded with it for a while. And women in particular did quite well. Now it’s less about the competitive element and it’s more about being seen in spandex and they can sell you a $12,000 bike and get you going to somewhere in Europe to be part of a group where they can sell you more stuff there and post on social media. If I was purely money hungry I could try to go after that element of it, but I’m such a believer in the religion of cycling that it bothers me to capitalize and not try to move it forward as far as it’s soul. Just for the purity of it. The best parts of my memory of cycling is being out in Warsaw on a November day when the snow is starting to fly and realizing that my season is coming to an end and being the only person out there. It was more of an adventure. “
Chloe gives riders the tools to be safe and focused and get their results. “I call it a combination of coaching and driver’s education as you are training on the roads,” she laughs.
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