Sophia Ervington, a 17-year-old qathet region cycling racer, will be joining the Enduro World Series and downhill world cup as a competitor this year.
Last year, she placed second at the enduro nationals and claimed the overall junior BC cup downhill title, as well as placing fourth in the downhill nationals. She has been picked up by the Blueprint Racing team based in Squamish and will make three trips to Europe in 2023, as well as racing here in Canada.
“In the past years, I’ve worked my way up the rankings in enduro and downhill, so this year I was invited to go on a racing team overseas,” said Ervington. “By getting invited onto this team, I will have the opportunity to go over there and try my best to perform.”
Ervington’s Blueprint team will involve three athletes – her and two junior men. She said the team owner, the athletes and a mechanic will travel around Europe together and race. She said the team is sponsored by several brands, so she will be receiving products to help her race career, including bikes.
“This year will be my first year with pretty much free bikes, which is very exciting for me,” said Ervington. “We also get a racing kit, such as clothing, to train in, and components for our bikes. I will be getting an enduro bike, which is like a normal mountain bike, and I’ll also be getting a downhill bike this year, which is extremely exciting for me, because I’ve never ridden a downhill bike. I’m going to be focusing on downhill this year.”
Ervington said last year she was invited to go to the world championships, but she did not have a downhill bike, so she decided not to go.
“This year I will have a downhill bike and I think it will bring me an advantage in my racing,” said Ervington.
She said she is going to be heading to Europe three times in 2023. The first will be at the end of May, which starts with an Enduro World Series race in Italy, followed by a downhill world cup event in Switzerland, and another one in Austria. It will be a three-week trip.
Ervington will come home and graduate from high school. In the beginning of August she will be racing in Scotland at the world championships in downhill. In the beginning of September, she will return to Europe for three weeks to race in France, where she will compete in three more world cup downhill races with her team.
“I’m extremely excited,” said Ervington. “I’ve never been to Europe before, or racing at this level. It will be a new experience, but I’m focused and putting in the work for it.
“It’s the off-season right now so there is no racing. I’m riding a lot on my bike and I’m spending a lot of time on an indoor trainer bike doing intervals and really working on my fitness. I’m also going to the gym to do weight, strength and mobility training. Downhill is a very physical sport so you have to have a strong upper body and core to be able to take the hits.”
She has been riding locally near Inland Lake and has also travelled to Squamish to get some time on her bike in appropriate terrain.
Ervington said in addition to paying attention to her physical training, she also wants to have a mental coach this year to help her get in the proper mindset for racing, so her mental game will be “on-point” for the races.
“It’s quite a lot to zone in and keep yourself together,” explained Ervington. “Last year I struggled to find a routine. I’d get so nervous before a race that I wouldn’t eat and I’d end up messing myself up. This year, I’m going to have the routine and the mental strategies to perform my best.”
Ervington said she is now training every day.
“Honestly, I really enjoy training,” said Ervington. “It doesn’t feel like work to me. This is what I do and I really like it. I devote a lot of my time to it.”
In terms of her status, Ervington will still be classed as an amateur while racing on the world circuit.
“I’m not paid yet but this will be a stepping stone to eventually reaching the level of getting on a factory team, where you are paid to race,” said Ervington. “People can see who I am on an international level, and hopefully next year, I’ll get paid. That’s the big goal.”
Ervington said it’s also her goal to hold onto a racing career as long as possible, but she acknowledges that an athlete’s career is short-lived. She hopes to go to university while racing, studying something such as sports psychology, because bike racing is not a sustainable career for the rest of her life. She eventually wants to work with athletes.
“For the foreseeable future. I’d say racing is what I am focusing on,” said Ervington. “This will be my third-year racing competitively. I absolutely love racing so much. It’s so much fun and it gives me a purpose.”
To help her live her dream, a GoFundMe page has been launched. Go to GoFundMe.com and enter Ervington in the search bar, which will take visitors to her page called: Opportunity to Race on the World Stage in Europe. She is hoping to raise $22,500 to help with travel, accommodations and other items for her three trips to Europe.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Ervington, “to have an athlete going overseas representing a small town.”