Fast Talk Femmes Podcast: Beating the Odds with Shayna Powless

Learn the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to sports to avoid burnout and injury from someone who conquered it themselves, pro cyclist Shayna Powless.

Shayna Powless ep 116 FTF webstie graphic

Lifelong multi-sport athlete Shayna Powless rides for DNA Pro Cycling and is gearing up to compete in the Team Pursuit at the 2023 World Track Championships and qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games. In this episode, Shayna shares her pathway to becoming a professional cyclist. We learn the challenges she faced and how she overcame them through adaptation, grit, and determination. She also offers advice to aspiring female endurance athletes based on her experiences. 

Shayna comes from a family of athletes. Her mother was an Olympic runner, her father competed internationally in triathlon, and her brother Neilson rides for EF Education–EasyPost. Their athletic experiences provided tremendous mental support and played a crucial role in her athletic career. Along with her fiancé, NFL athlete Eli Ankou, she is the founder of the Dream Catcher Foundation, which raises awareness for missing indigenous women and empowers indigenous youth through sports.   

Today, Shayna balances track, road, and mountain bike racing in her pursuit of receiving a World Championship Team Pursuit medal. Tune in to hear about how Shayna was able to develop a wide range of skills and mitigate the risk of injury and burnout. 

Catch up on previous episodes of Fast Talk Femmes and subscribe for episodes on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsOvercastSoundcloudSpotifyStitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts! 

Episode Transcript

Julie Young  00:05

Hi, welcome to Fast Talk Femme with Julie Young and Dede Barry. Our guest on this episode is Shayna Powless. A lifelong multi-sport endurance athlete who is currently racing bikes professionally for DNA pro cycling and training for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Julie Young  00:21

Shayna grew up in the Sacramento area and comes from an extremely athletic and accomplished family. Her mother competed in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as an endurance runner. Her father competed internationally with the US military triathlon team in Ironman triathlons, and also competed in cycling. Her brother Nielsen is a world tour professional road cyclist with the EF education cycling team. Shayna’s fiancee, Eli Hongkou, is a professional football player who currently plays for the Buffalo Bills.

Julie Young  00:56

In addition to her cycling and accomplishments, Shayna graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is a USA Cycling certified coach, and she is a member of the Oneida Nation. Shayna and Eli co-founded a nonprofit organization called The Dream Catcher Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering Native American youth through sports, focusing on football and cycling camps. It is also committed to bringing awareness to the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls pandemic sweeping across North America.

Julie Young  01:35

Our discussion with Shayna will focus on her background as a multi-sport endurance athlete and how her parents guidance through her youth athletics was instrumental in developing the mental and physical foundation that has allowed her to thrive and succeed at the elite international level of sport.

Brittney Coffey  01:55

There are more female athletes and endurance sports than ever before. Yet until recently, female athletes simply followed advice and protocols that had been designed and tested on men. This is rapidly changing and in our newest release from the Craft of Coaching with Joe Friel we explore the art and science behind coaching female athletes with expert insights and advice from the likes of Dr. Stacey Sims, Alison Freeman, and Lauren valet. Check out the craft coaching module 12 coaching female athletes at Fast Talk Labs today.

Julie Young  02:29

Welcome to Fast talk them are excited to have Shana palace. Join us today and we feel lucky to grab a little bit of our time and between a very demanding travel and competition schedule. And having lived in Sacramento where Shana grew up I I’ve known Shane and her family for a little bit of time now and had the opportunity to work with Shana as her coach, and we have a few things in common being UCLA grads, Shana. Welcome to Fast talk, Ben,

Shayna Powless  02:59

thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. Yeah. It’s

Julie Young  03:03

great to see you. It’s been a bit of time. Yeah, it’s been a while. Yeah, catch up.

Julie Young  03:08

Definitely. Shana. We touched on your background in our intro. But can you tell us a little bit more about your background and what you’ve been up to recently?

Shayna Powless  03:16

Yes, I was born in Florida, but raised in Northern California, which is where racing all kind of started for me come from a very athletic family. Both of my parents being athletes themselves for many years. My dad was an Ironman triathlete. My mom was a marathon runner, and also dabbled in triathlons, here and there. But yeah, yeah, I think having two parents who are very athletic, and then having them inspire both my brother and I, who’s also a professional cyclist for EF, which is a world tour team, both of us having our parents to look up to from young ages really just inspired us to start racing and trying different sports around the same time that we could start walking. But yeah, I’m just really blessed to come from a family that’s super supportive of both my brother and I, and everything that we do, whether it’s sports or other endeavors in life, no matter what it is. Our parents have always been our number one supporters. But yeah, so I’ve been racing professionally since I was 19 years old, but was racing well before then, through the junior ranks, did every sport from like triathlons to swim team Track and Field cross country running, basketball, volleyball, horseback riding gymnastics, soccer, tee ball, probably forgetting a sport or two. But yeah, so I didn’t really start focusing on cycling until high school years when I got into the Norco High School mountain bike League. So I started out doing that freshman year and then did that all through high school through senior year and that kind of is where it all started for me and had some success there. But doing well in a lot of those races, and then put my name out there with USA Cycling and help get me an invite to do some talent ID camps. USA Cycling and do some racing over in Europe on the mountain bike side. So yeah, that really catapulted me to where I am today. It was like a solid stepping stone. And then transition to racing primarily wrote in 2017, and have been primarily focusing on that since then, and then started doing track racing for the first time last year, which is still something that is I feel like it’s fairly new for me still, but it’s something that I really love and have grown to realize that it’s a discipline that suits me pretty well. So yeah, ever since last year, it’s just been like, back and forth with the road and track and trying to balance and navigate the schedule between the two, which has been crazy, but I’m blessed that I able to do both.

Julie Young  05:46

And I bet we’ll talk more about this. But I would imagine all those disciplines really help with the other play in your favor in terms of developing as an athlete.

Shayna Powless  05:55

Yeah, definitely. I mean, I also didn’t mention that I did race gravel for a while back in 2021. And was it last year as well, I think I might have done one race last year, maybe even in 2020. But yeah, 2021 That was like all I was doing was gravel racing. And also swift racing. Another discipline that I really found that I that I enjoyed a lot, especially during COVID, when there was a real lack of in real life racing. That’s all we had was swift racing at the time. But yeah, it was really cool, because I feel like it really swift racing really helped teach me to suffer like I had never done before. There’s something about racing on the trainer that is so hard mentally and physically. And I feel like ever since just diving headfirst into the Zwift racing world during COVID. I feel like it’s helped take me to that next level of learning how to suffer and push more on the bike. And then I feel like it’s also kind of like with track racing. It’s just such short racing, that you’re just going full gas the whole time, like is with grace, but even shorter. So yeah, I feel like the crossover is definitely there between the disciplines with the amount of suffering that you have to endure, I guess with braces are also shorter. But yeah, I feel like having that swift background, a background in mountain biking, which I feel like has also helped me with my bike handling skills, which of course crosses over to any other discipline pretty well, I think definitely has shaped me into the rider that I am today, just having all that different experience in the different disciplines. Yeah, track is something that I’m pretty focused on for this year. And then next year, going into the field Olympics goal is to make the team pursuit squad for the Olympics next year. And then on the road side, of course, I’ll keep balancing both road and track. But I think with road, it would also be great to qualify for the Olympics on the road. Although track is still my main focus, we’ll see what I can do on the road in the next couple of years. I’m still developing on that side as well.

Julie Young  07:57

Yeah, it’s so fun to have things that our new again. And just as you said, it makes so much sense like taking little bits and pieces from each discipline to make you a whole athlete emotionally and physically. So makes a ton of sense. So in today’s conversation, which I’m super excited about, we’re basically going to focus on China’s athletic development and career like the three different stages of of China’s career and development. And so just starting off like just as we’ve been talking like cycling is booming, has China said, you know, like, we’ve got so many choices now we’ve got gravel, Swift all these things, which I think there’s many factors contributing to that boom and cycling. But personally like I tribute Nika and Shana, you’d mentioned the NorCal League, and that’s for folks that don’t know about Nika. It’s the it stands for National interscholastic cycling Association. And I think Nika has been a big reason for the growth of the sport and bringing it more into the mainstream. I mean, I think Nika, will tell you that they’re pretty strong in their mission, that it’s simply getting more kids on bikes, they don’t want to be a development tool. And I think they’ve done a great job at really throwing that wide net and drying in big participation. And kids have just all interest in abilities. Some kids are there just to hang out with their friends, some kids are there to participate, some want to jump their bikes, I always feel for the coaches that are leading those programs, because they’re dealing with such a diverse set of interests. But anyway, I think even though it’s not Nike has intention to develop athletes, I think they’ve inadvertently become the best development tool and the best talent ID tool for USA Cycling. And Shane, I think you and Nielsen are proof of that. But anyway, I think that’s a contributor to the growth of cycling. I think, of course, better coverage. We’re able to see these races from start to finish now. really relate to the athletes and think obviously, there’s more opportunity as well. And what I’ve seen Shayna, and this is obviously just my opinion, but working with a number of you 23 athletes now, I do see this little league mentality creeping into sport, you know, and parents really pushing. And I think some of these parents may not have come from athletics as your parents did. Maybe they were very successful in the corporate world, which we know the formula for success in corporate world and sport is very different. I think a lot of times these parents may not have the respect and appreciation for the emotional and physical demands of sport. And they may not understand like the process and the finesse involved in that process, it becomes an art and science at some point to really work with that individual, like there’s no blueprint. And it’s not about just doing more or pushing harder, but just knowing when to work hard and when to pull back and change. Just having seen your family just from afar, and just watched you know what your parents did, and I just have the utmost respect for your parents. And I think they obviously they introduced you and Nielson into sport early. But somehow they managed to navigate this really tricky situation of keeping like your sporting life fun and productive, to keep you guys in it for the long game. And to ultimately succeed at that elite international level. All the studies show you guys beat the odds, there’s very few junior athletes that then go on to succeed at the elite international level. So I guess I’d love to hear from you like what do you think your parents did differently to beat those odds and keep you guys in sport.

Shayna Powless  11:42

Those are really great points you brought up. Like I mentioned earlier, both of my parents being athletes, I think my dad has done like 15 Iron Man’s or something like that. And my mom being literally an Olympic Marathon Runner who represented Guam in the 92 Olympics. I think both my brother and I just were like, very lucky to be born into a family where we had parents like that to look up to. And I know that’s not the case. For most kids out there. I feel like we’re definitely one of the very few who were just born into a family like that. I guess you can say like endurance sports is just in our DNA. Literally, I feel like that’s who we were born to be was like endurance athletes, both of our parents being endurance athletes again. Yeah, I think we’re certainly very lucky in both of our parents, even though they really encouraged and supported us and all the sports that we’ve done through our childhood. They also never were the type of parents to overly push anything on us. Of course, they always would push us and encourage us to do as well as we could and to put the work in and they were really always there to help keep us accountable, which was great. Technically, they were both our coaches all through our childhood, my mom, up until just recently, she’s just retired. But for 30 plus years, she was a track and field and cross country collegiate women’s running coach. So she coached both my brother and I in running in triathlons. And my dad, who’s a cyclist and triathlete for so many years, who coached not just my brother and I but had his own coaching business called endless coaching and worked with countless different athletes who were runners, swimmers, triathletes, cyclists, they were so involved in our lives, with all the different sports that we were doing, whether it was triathlons, track, and field cross country cycling, mountain biking. So yeah, we were definitely very blessed to have them and also very lucky to have them not be the kind of parents that would push us too much. They always were super focused on keeping things fun for us, we would always do fun workouts together. And if we just weren’t feeling up for a certain workout on a particular day, if we were just super tired and rundown from whatever the reason may be like they were never the ones like forcing us to do all of that. So yeah, I feel like they definitely helped to keep us well balanced, while at the same time still encouraging us and supporting us in whatever sport that it was time,

Dede Barry  14:06

Shane, I think it sounds like you have great parents. But I want to come back a little bit to to like how being a multi sport athlete has affected your development and even your relationship with your parents. There’s a lot of data to support the idea that being a multi sport athlete can help you mitigate injury and it can also help you develop a wide range of skills which you touched on earlier. You know, I was a multi sport athlete and started pretty young and I felt like it really helped me to mitigate the risk of burnout. Do you feel like that was the same for you?

Shayna Powless  14:41

Oh, definitely. Yeah, very true for me, having done countless different sports growing up and even today, mixing it up during the offseason with different sports like swimming and running. Even things like hiking and playing beach volleyball somewhere by the ocean. I feel like just a It’s not just physically important, I feel like it’s more so mentally important to keep things mixed up, especially as a professional athlete, where you’re just, you’re so focused on one particular sport for a huge part of the year, especially in a sport such as cycling, where it’s such a long season, I feel like it’s just so important to keep it mixed up whenever you can, especially in the offseason, if you’re able to, I feel like it’s also really good when you’re young to keep it mixed up as well, just because I feel like you’re so young, and you’re still trying to figure out what you enjoy the most, and also what you excel in the most. And I feel like me and my brother being exposed to so many different types of sports, I feel like it was just chance almost that both of us ended up becoming cyclists and that those were the that was the sport that both of us just ended up sticking with. Despite being exposed to all these other different kinds of sports. I still think it’s interesting to this day, how we both ended up being pro cyclists after all the different sports that we went through. But so far, so good. It’s worked out.

Dede Barry  16:03

Shana, do you feel like you both stuck with cycling? Because that was where your strengths slide or you are more passionate about the sport of cycling? Or did you just have better support in terms of like sponsorship, or like, how did that decision come about for you?

Shayna Powless  16:18

We had always been, like very involved in triathlons when we were younger road and mountain biking. We always did like all of the local triathlons in our area. And then we did some USA triathlons as juniors. And then we also did extra triathlons. And I feel like initially, that was the sport that both my brother and I gravitated towards the most in our younger years more than all the other different sports. And then once we were both in high school, and then started being active in the Norco High School mountain bike League, doing more mountain bike racing, and then have also having success in a lot of those kinds of races. I feel like that’s where we figured out that was the sport for us. And it was also the sport that we just happen to enjoy the most. And yeah, with triathlons. I feel like the bike portion was always the leg that I enjoyed the most and found myself making it more grounded on people. I was never really the strongest swimmer when it came to triathlons. I was decent at running, but also not the strong, strongest runner out there. But I feel like the bike portion was always where I knew that I was going to make up some ground on people coming out of the water. And then going into the run both on the XR mountain bike side and the road triathlon side. I feel like that was always where I would do the best. And then that was also the life that I enjoyed the most. So yeah,

Dede Barry  17:40

at what age did you shift your focus completely to cycling.

Shayna Powless  17:44

So in high school, all four years, I raced in the varsity High School races, but all through high school, I also did cross country running. And then I also did track and field running freshman and sophomore year. And then after sophomore year, because the track and field and the high school mountain bike season conflicted in the spring, I decided to stop doing track and field and then just focus on the high school mountain bike races in the spring. But then just continued with the cross country running season in the fall through senior year. So yeah, I would say high school is where I figured out cycling. And specifically mountain biking was what I wanted to continue focusing on just solely focusing on after high school. And then I’d say when I got into college, that was when I was just focusing on mountain biking, and then was dabbling and road racing collegiately as well. That’s great.

Dede Barry  18:38

So were you on the national team for mountain biking prior to race it on the road national team,

Shayna Powless  18:44

I guess just with the racing and like the world cups that I was doing as a junior in the U 23. I don’t think I was ever qualified to be officially on the national team, especially at the elite level. But I definitely did a lot of racing with the national team. Whether it was like Junior World Cups you 23 World Cups got to represent the US at a few mountain bike world championships. My first one being in 2012 as a junior and then going through 2015 as a you 23 And then that was my last time doing a mountain bike race at that level was in 2015. Yeah.

Ryan Kohler  19:24

Are you a student athlete that’s looking to up your game and look no further. Hi, this is Coach and physiologist Ryan Kohler at Rocky Mountain Devo and I have over 20 years of experience working with junior athletes. I specialize in a physiology based approach to training with a focus on finding improvements that can make the biggest impact on your end goal. I’d love to work with you. So check out more at Rocky Mountain

Dede Barry  19:48

So I’m curious I want to shift the conversation a little bit to your transition from being a you 23 athlete to elite because I think that when I look back on our career Julian eyes a lot of athletes struggled to make that jump to the elite level, but you seem like you exemplify what it takes as a talented cyclist to make it in the sport. And you seem to have made that transition really well. And you made it in an era where there wasn’t quite as much opportunity and like established pathway as there is right now, to the professional level. So I’d like to just hear a little bit about how that transition went for you and what it took for you to stay the course basically.

Shayna Powless  20:32

So yeah, up until 2017, I was just pretty much focused on mountain bike racing only. I would dabble in road racing here and there, like at the collegiate level, and then just doing local races. But it’s interesting because my brother was following my footsteps and was also primarily a mountain bike racer up until later on in high school, and then he ended up switching to road racing before I did, and then seeing him do really well on the road and then get invited to join some pretty big teams was super inspiring to me. And then I also ended up making that same switch a couple years after he did. And I think that was in 20. Yeah, 2017 was when I ended up switching from mountain biking to road but I guess backing up a little bit more geared towards your question going from you 23 to elite. It was interesting, because being a mountain bike athlete, all through my junior years, and then all through my youth 23 years. So like when you make that jump from being a junior to a you 23 I aged out of being 18 being a junior and then once I turned 19, I was 23. And then that pretty much auto qualified me to race as a pro, all the products, CTS all the US cups within the US. Yeah, I guess I technically got my pro license when I aged out of being a junior as a mountain bike athlete. And then I didn’t get my pro road license until 2017 When I switched from mountain biking to road and that was so I made the switch when I got an offer to ride with Team 2020, which was actually called show or 2020 at the time. And then just had a mutual friend put in a good word for me and knew the director of the team at the time. And and that’s when the team reached out and then offered me a pro license and offered me a spot on their team. And at the time, I saw it as an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. It was nice, because I know also at the time, I don’t know if the system is the same, but you have to of course you have to start as like a cat five on the road. Especially if you haven’t done a ton of racing on the road. But I guess I was lucky having that mountain bike background and being a pro on the mountain bike side I think helped me get that pro road license in 2017 when I switched. So yeah, I feel like it was definitely a big jump racing as a junior you 23 going into the elite ranks and then racing Pro on the road immediately after. Switching from mountain biking to road definitely was a bit of a learning curve. But at the same time, I feel like having that mountain bike background helped me develop those skills to to ride and race pretty confidently on the road and navigate myself through the peloton. And I feel like road racing can be almost just as chaotic as racing on the mountain bike. I feel like I had the right mentality going into it. Of course, the bike handling skills were there. And yeah, it was just it was a really fun switch. I’m glad that it happened the way it did no regrets.

Dede Barry  23:35

And what about sponsorship? Like has it been financially viable for you? Or have you had to supplement? Especially when you’re making the transition? Did you have to supplement by working other jobs?

Shayna Powless  23:45

Yes, I’ve done a various amount of different things for a second source of income, or even a third source of income. Like starting out, racing professionally. Like my first couple years, I wasn’t making any kind of salary pretty much all my years as a mountain bike racer, I was never making a salary. But it was nice because everything was covered. So expenses such as like travel, race entries, equipment, gear, all that stuff was covered, which was really nice. And also as well as my road teams that I was with choeur 2020. For the first couple of years, everything was covered, which was great, even though I wasn’t making a salary, but I feel like that’s pretty standard. Even in this day and age. I feel like if you’re a first year, pro, even a second year Pro, like it’s pretty normal to not really be making a salary or hardly anything at all. I know that’s not necessarily the case for everybody. But I feel like that’s the norm. But yeah, it wasn’t it pretty much wasn’t until my third year racing as a professional road racer where I started making something and then ever since then it’s been a little bit more each year, which is really nice. But yeah, especially those first few years not making any sort of salary like I would do any thing from driving Uber, being a Postmates delivery driver. I would also work in a PT clinic as a rehab technician for a couple of years, which is something that I’ve really enjoyed. And actually, I wouldn’t mind getting back into the PT field at some point in the future, maybe after I’m done racing. I’ve also been a coach since 2018. So that’s definitely another big source of my income is through my coaching. But yeah, so I’ve, it’s been interesting, the things I’ve done in the past, one of the most interesting things was definitely being an Uber driver, while living in Los Angeles for all of my years in school. And then even for a couple of years after graduating, when I was still living there, I was still using Uber driving as another source of income. It was interesting, because I got to meet a lot of very interesting people. And there was a couple of sketchy moments here and there, LA is not always the safest place to be in certain parts of La as an Uber driver. So I definitely learned which places to avoid as a driver, which places were a lot better to work as a driver. But yeah, it was something that I definitely enjoyed at the time.

Julie Young  26:09

Shane, I think you just from what you said, You really are an example of what it takes as a female cyclist in the US, because there are so few opportunities, and you just did whatever it took to make it happen. And we’re super scrappy, and determined. And I love those qualities. And I think like you said about being the Uber driver, everything is what you make of it, right. It’s like, oh, that was kind of fun. I learned different things. And I liked that attitude.

Shayna Powless  26:37

I was also a Lyft driver. So Lyft is basically the same as Uber, but I forgot to mention that. Yeah.

Julie Young  26:44

You mentioned swift and then just talking about like your skills going onto the road. And we’ve just interviewed Ashley momen Passio. And we were talking about Swift and what a important tool it was for her. We’re also talking about you can hit those numbers. But being in that pro peloton, there’s so many other factors that go into a successful performance. And especially when you get into Europe, where it’s pretty chaotic on the roads and those on those small roads and terrible weather conditions with 140 other riders. So I’m sure like, like you’d said before, all those things you’ve done in the past really added to your toolkit to make you that whole athlete to deal with all those different circumstances.

Shayna Powless  27:31

Yeah, like I mentioned, having that very well rounded background with all the different disciplines, different sports, different activities. Yeah, I feel like it definitely helped shape me into not just the type of rider I am today, but also the kind of person I am today. I feel like at this point, having that background and all those different disciplines, it almost makes me inspired to like, want to even try BMX, because BMX is something that I have not tried before, but it’s one of the disciplines that I have yet to try. But I feel like that could also maybe help take me to the next level when it comes to that punchiness on the bike and that bike handling skills. Who knows? Maybe that could be like my next venture at some point. But yeah, I actually know some track riders, specifically some sprinters who have that background in BMX and then converted to the truck. So maybe it could be the reverse for me at some point. Maybe I might want to get into BMX after retiring from track and road, who knows.

Dede Barry  28:28

Shana? What’s it like for you right now balancing track and road like, what is your season look like? And what’s it going to be like leading up to Worlds if you ended up competing in Worlds this year? Has that been a good balance? And I just like to know like how complimentary you feel the two disciplines are Yeah, it’s

Shayna Powless  28:45

a bit crazy, to be honest, I guess schedule wise, because they totally overlap with each other, which is a bummer. It didn’t used to be that way because the track season used to be late fall early winter time, which, of course is pretty much the opposite season of the road season. But now it’s very spring, heavy with all of the nation’s cups, which there’s three of their all in the spring, pretty much back to back February and through March, which is when a lot of the road racing is happening. Unfortunately, this year, it’s been especially tough because of doing all three nations cups. Last year, I think I only did two of the three. Yeah, last year and this year was definitely a bit tough. There was definitely some road races that I had to sacrifice in order to be available for all the track nations cups and then also available for all the camps going into and in between all the nations cups track is definitely a huge time commitment, especially with all the travel for the nation’s cups. The first one this year was all the way in Jakarta, Indonesia, which of course is on the other side of the world, not convenient to get to and then the second one was in Cairo, Egypt, which is also not the easiest place to get to and from and then And the third one was actually nice because that was in Milton, Canada. And it’s only like an hour and a half away from us here in Buffalo, which is nice. So that one was definitely the most convenient one to get to. But yeah, I think next year will probably be equally as crazy with the travel the time commitment, especially with it being an Olympic year. And probably, it’s going to be also a more intensive with the track camps and the buildup leading into all the track events. And then of course for the Olympics later in the summer. There’s also Panem champs, which is usually in the summertime, that was one of the races this year that I opted not to go to just to prep myself for road nationals, which is coming up next week. And just the timing didn’t work out super well with my schedule, unfortunately. But yeah, this year worlds is super worlds, which is interesting, because it’s all of the disciplines aside from cyclocross, I believe, in one place within 10 days of each other in Glasgow, Scotland. So worlds is definitely a big goal for me on the track side. And then I’d also love to qualify on the road as well, which I think will be possible, if nationals goes well, next week. So yeah, I mean, it’s definitely hard to balance both and just mostly in terms of the scheduling. But I feel like also doing a lot of track has helped me with develop that top end, punchy type power on the road, has helped me become more of a sprinter type, power person on the road. And then road has also just helped me develop that diesel engine type power, which also comes in handy on the track course for the slightly longer event, which is the team pursuit. And then the IP two, which is also considered an endurance event, even though it’s only like three minutes long, and the teepees only four and a half minutes long. But yeah, I feel like they definitely complement each other well, as long as you are mindful of how you’re doing the structured training and like how you’re timing the road events with all the track events and making sure you’re not doing too much all at once, which I feel like I was very close to doing this year with all of the track and road racing being so condensed in the springtime, was definitely feeling pretty tired after our spring block. I’m just so happy that I got to have more time at home this month, especially going into into road nationals. When you’re home. Do you have access to a track? Unfortunately, no.

Julie Young  32:24

And when you guys are at camps, are you always near a track? Yeah, so

Shayna Powless  32:28

our camps are always in Colorado Springs with the Olympic training center out there. And then yeah, right next to the Olympic Training Center is the Velodrome which is super nice. They’re only like a few blocks apart from each other. So we always just stay on campus at the AOTC. And then we’re usually there for like two, maybe two and a half, three weeks tops at a time for our camps going into races. Sometimes we’ll have offseason camps, like in the fall, winter time, more like kind of base building type stuff. But yeah, it’s a nice track. I mean, it’s not the smoothest track, it’s like an indoor 333 concrete track, which is definitely not the type of tracks that we race on. Typically what we race on are, they’re like 250 meter, wooden tracks, which is quite different than what we train on. But I do like the track we train on because I feel like it makes us stronger because it’s our altitude. And it’s once you convert from the track there to like the nice 250 indoor track. It’s just like riding on butter. It’s so nice, and you feel like you’re flying.

Julie Young  33:29

How was it for you like the first time you got on a track with those steep wall banks? A little terrifying.

Shayna Powless  33:37

It was really fun. Don’t get me wrong. From the start. It was always fun for me. But yeah, it definitely was a little bit daunting at first, you know, especially more so my first time on a 250 rather than the 333 meter, just because the 250 meter tracks, the bankings are like 43% or something like that. And you just walk up to it. And it’s like a wall. And it just looks like it’s a vertical, just wall. And yeah, it can be definitely a bit daunting at first, especially just looking at it, but it’s actually once you hop on the track, and then you actually start rolling around and get your speed going. It’s really not bad at all. And I feel like I was I picked it up pretty quickly. And yeah, I got used to it pretty quickly. Thankfully,

Dede Barry  34:20

Shayna, do you do any of the bunch of ants like the Madison or points or is

Shayna Powless  34:25

sadly not yet? No, I would love to at some point. I think it’s just a matter of time before I get that opportunity. But definitely at some point I would like to try it but for now I’ve just been a TCP IP person

Dede Barry  34:38

at some point where they’re in Buffalo you should come up and race and Milton because there’s racing almost every weekend through the winter, fall and winter.

Shayna Powless  34:47

Yeah, I considered that this past winter but I didn’t have a track bike with me at the time so I would need to I think this next winter we ended up staying in Buffalo I would definitely love to get up there as long as I can get a truck by to use and yeah, I would just I would think it would be great for Offseason training.

Dede Barry  35:05

Yeah, it’s a great place to train to. It’s such a nice facility. We’re really lucky to have access to it. Yeah. And

Shayna Powless  35:11

you’re right next to it being internal. So I’m sure you’ve been to it many times. Yeah.

Dede Barry  35:15

My my son races quite a bit out there. I don’t ride on it that much myself. But he’s out there few days a week. Oh, cool.

Dede Barry  35:23

What events? Does he do? A little bit of everything. He’s 15. So yeah, he does it all and enjoys it all.

Shayna Powless  35:30

Awesome. That’s good. It’s good to mix it up with all the events, especially at that age.

Dede Barry  35:35

Yeah. You continue to give back to the sport through your foundation. And I’d like to hear a little bit about the projects that you’re involved with, and who you support. Yes,

Shayna Powless  35:47

my fiancee, Leon Chua, and I, Ely being a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills. And also being a member of the Ojibwe nation and myself being a member of the United Nation both decided to start a foundation called the dreamcatcher Foundation, back in 2018, I believe is when we first started it. And that came about with the help of his football agents, and then also with the help of this organization called athletes and causes that partners with professional athletes in helping start their own nonprofits. And so yeah, they do a lot of work for us, like behind the scenes work, and then were really instrumental in helping us get the foundation started. But yeah, basically, through our foundation, we just aim to empower Native youth through sports, such as cycling and football. And then we also aim to raise awareness of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls crisis in North America, which is something that most people have never heard of. But it’s something that everybody should know about. It’s crazy statistics surrounding that. Native American women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average. And that’s just one of the few crazy statistics surrounding the MMI WG crisis in America and Canada. Yeah, that’s one side of this foundation. We just aim to raise awareness, whether it be through social media, we also host fundraisers, one to two fundraisers per year to raise funds towards donating to get to organizations actively combating them in my WG crisis. And then part of the funds from those fundraisers also go towards events that we put on for Native youth on various reservations. One of the events being a football camp that Ely and I hosted back in 2019, I believe it was in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada. And it was a huge turnout. We had 150 kids show up, it was totally free of charge for all the kids, just a one day football clinic. It was great. We loved it. And it was a huge success. So we would definitely love to host another camp like that in the future, maybe sometime within the next couple of years. And then we also last year hosted a bike rodeo event where we were able to raise enough funds to donate 100 bikes and helmets to the youth of the Seneca Nation, which is actually right up here in the Buffalo New York area. So we actually got to go out to the both the Cattaraugus and the llegan D reservations, both part of the Seneca Nation, and donate those bikes and helmets for the kids and then also get to talk to them about what it’s like being pro athletes, and then teach them about bike safety. I even got to bring my own bike and do a ride with all of the kids on both reservations, which was super fun. So yeah, we would definitely love to host another event like that sometime within the next couple of years. But yeah, as of right now we’re just looking forward to our next fundraiser that we’re going to host through our foundation, which is called the peace love art auction where we’re trying to gather a lot of different Native artists from both Canada and the US. And we’re gonna auction off a bunch of their art with part of the proceeds going towards our next event.

Brittney Coffey  38:57

Hi, listeners, we’re so excited that you’re here to check out fast talk them a new podcast series, it’s all about the female endurance athlete. Here at fast talk labs. We pride ourselves on being the pioneers of information and education in the endurance sports world for both athletes and coaches. If you like what you hear today, check out more at fast talk

Julie Young  39:21

channel we’ve discussed in previous episodes, the value of balance and an athletic life and that not all the eggs are in that athletic performance or that athletic career but having that balance and it seems to me that this provides you with that focus to throw yourself and your attention into this. And I always feel like these kinds of projects feel like you’re giving but then when you get involved you realize you’re getting so much more back. So do you feel like that helps you balance out your life and keep some perspective as opposed to just everything being focused on that cycling career,

Shayna Powless  40:01

oh definitely definitely helps me keep a clear sight of the bigger picture. Being Native also and being an athlete, especially at the professional level, I feel like it’s, it’s something that I mean I take a lot of pride in. And native people are arguably the most underrepresented demographic in sport, whether it’s cycling, football, whatever sport, you name it, I feel like it’s not everyday that you see Native athletes at that elite level, me and my brother, being Native athletes, it’s something that we definitely both take a lot of pride in. Same with really being a pro football player, we just feel like it’s something that we’ll always take a lot of pride in. And it’s also something that we always, always want to help inspire that next generation of native athletes, whether it’s to get into sports, get into sports at the elite level, or whether it’s just to lead healthier lifestyles, like we just really want to help inspire that next generation. And hopefully, one day we’ll see more native athletes in sport, especially at the elite level. That’s definitely one of my big goals. Aside from my personal racing goals, which there are many, I just really aim to inspire that next generation of native athletes.

Julie Young  41:10

I was thinking about that Shane, as as we were preparing for this episode, and we were talking about you and Nielsen and reaching that elite level. And to me, it’s just in my opinion, it doesn’t matter where kids take sport, I feel like sport is such a great venue to learn so much about yourself and to develop that character. And, you know, I just think about all those lessons we learn in sport, or we’re dealing with adversity, or we’re dealing with disappointment and discouragement and learning to pick ourselves up or, you know, we’re setting a goal, and we’re experiencing the ups and downs on the way to that goal. But we stay the course. And we reach that goal. And it’s such an incredible feeling. And I think, again, no matter where kids take the sport, those lessons are always going to be with the kids. And it really does translate over into real life. It translates into life after sport. I always love the idea of just like developing high performing humans.

Shayna Powless  42:06

Agreed. Yeah, me too. That’s also part of why I decided to get into coaching myself. I just feel like inspiring people, whether it’s to get more fit, or even playing a small role in helping them achieve their athletic and racing goals. I feel like it’s just one of the most rewarding things you can do. And yeah, I feel like even long after I’m retired from racing, I definitely want to continue my coaching and then also continue with my nonprofit work with Ely. And even doing more than what we’re already doing with our nonprofit work. I feel like I’ll definitely one of these days, I will have more time to dive headfirst into hosting multiple camps throughout the year through our nonprofit, and also camps with like athletes that I coach as well. Yeah, it’s something that I’m super passionate about and will continue doing for as long as I can.

Julie Young  43:00

Awesome. So what are your goals for the rest of the year? Specifically?

Shayna Powless  43:06

Great question. First and foremost, make the trek worlds team for Team Pursuit. That’s like the big short term goal at the moment. And then on the road side. Another big goal is to make the road worlds team for this year as well. I’ve been able to get some decent results on the road so far this year and had some decent results last year as well, which I think will help get me there. But yeah, another big goal is Nationals this year, which is coming up literally next week, I would love to win nationals in the road race as close to podium being last year, I think it was like six seconds off of third in the road race. I think I have a pretty good shot at at least podium being but also getting the win. I think if it comes down to a sprint finish from like a reduced bunch which this race normally, that’s normally what happens. I think I’ll have a good shot. There’s also normally like a breakaway that happens in the road race. So I think I need to be just extra attentive to that. And then knowing when to go and who to follow. But yeah, that’s like my immediate short term goals at the moment. And then yeah, long term goals include next year being at the Olympics. Nice.

Julie Young  44:18

Will you have team support at Nationals? Yep,

Shayna Powless  44:20

we’ll have DNA there. We’ll have our director there multiple directors and we’ll have two or three there. And then we’ll have our mechanic there one year and then we’ll have a full team of eight riders including myself, which is like a full squad, which I’m really excited about. I don’t think I’ve ever been at Nationals where I’ve had a full team of eight riders. It’ll be really fun and we’ll have a strong team there. So I think we have a good shot at pulling off some good results.

Julie Young  44:45

Nice team is everything and cycling.

Shayna Powless  44:47

Oh for sure. Yeah, of course. It always takes a village.

Julie Young  44:51

Yep. Yep. Shayna as we are wrapping up if there are three pieces of advice she could give to an aspiring female endurance athlete Sleep? What would that be?

Shayna Powless  45:02

I guess one of them being what I was just talking about setting short term and in long term goals for yourself. I think setting goals is so important, ultimately. So you can just help yourself stay motivated in the present moment. And while at the same time having your sights on the bigger picture. Yeah, I would say that first and foremost is a big piece of advice. I would also say, Never underestimate, rest and recovery. Think rest is always just as important as hard training and is just as essential to building and maintaining fitness as training hard. So yeah, never underestimate your rest and recovery. Like over the years, at least the older I get, I feel like the more I learned to appreciate, rest and recovery is just as important as the hard training. And yeah, I never underestimate it. I would also say, definitely maximise on every challenge and opportunity that presents itself without hesitation or fear of failure. Yeah, I feel like it can be so easy to doubt yourself, and have that fear of failure when faced with a big challenge. But I feel like you have to overcome that and still maximise on every opportunity that you get, especially when you’re young so that you never have any regrets, right.

Julie Young  46:15

Love those Cheyna. So good. Love your emphasis of rest and recovery and no regrets.

Dede Barry  46:22

Yep. Sure. No, thank you. It was really lovely speaking with you today. And we appreciate you taking the time to do this.

Shayna Powless  46:29

Thank you guys. I appreciate it. It was super nice catching up. And yeah, I had a blast chatting with you. Whoa.

Julie Young  46:35

That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme. Subscribe to Fast Talk Femme wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback and any thoughts you have on topics or guests that may be of interest to you get in touch via social. You can find Fast Talk Labs on Twitter and Instagram at Fast Talk Labs, where you’ll also find all of our episodes. You can also check them out on the web at For Shayna Powless and Dede Barry. I’m Julie Young. Thanks for listening!