Laura Haraldson

Laura Haraldson

Salsa Project Manager

What kind of cyclist are you?
I am most definitely an experience-seeking cyclist, as there are still quite a few experiences that are as of yet to be had. I’m a cyclist who rides for fun, for exercise, for family, to get from point A to point B in a more enjoyable manner. I like to try most anything; I wouldn’t label myself a racer, but have raced on occasion.

How long has cycling been a part of your life? When did it become more than just “riding a bike”?
All my life I’ve been “called back to bikes.” As an imaginative child, I used to pretend my old cruiser was a trusty steed (yes, horse), to which I actually affixed a shoestring-as-reins to the handlebars and figured out how to ride “hands free.” In high school, it was a vehicle for independence before I got my driver’s license, and in a small Wisconsin town it was easy to travel anywhere in the same time on bike as I would in a car anyway. I brought a Big Box store- $99 brand-bike to college and commuted on it daily, even in Minnesota winters. But it was definitely a mountain bike trip to Moab, Utah, with my now-husband that introduced me to the thrill a bike can provide and the destinations it can indeed take you.

The cycling accomplishment you’re proudest of to date?
This seems like nothing in the scheme of things, but then again it’s all about the emotion, right? As someone who’s run multiple marathons, qualifying for Boston thrice and gutting out all of the conditions thusly associated, I am still most proud of a second-place finish in a lightly populated fatbike race that took me around a well-packed, rolling 5-mile course just three times, because my kids and husband were more excited for and proud of me after this endeavor than any previous.

Favorite place you’ve been on a bike so far?
Fruita, Colo., Moab, Utah, Bozeman, Mont.

Favorite place to daydream about that you haven’t yet ridden?
Virginia, Alaska, Hawaiian volcanoes, Italy/Switzerland/Ireland/New Zealand (trail to Mordor). I’ve been so few places, almost anything qualifies. Touring-wise, looking forward to circling all of the Great Lakes with my hubby.

How do you describe what the bicycle means to you?
The importance of taking the time to be there … then “there” transcends the bicycle saddle and equates to the broader “outdoors,” and “nature,” and “with kids/family/friends/loved ones” and “not distracted/engaged/present.” A bicycle is such an easy yet perfect metaphor for life.

How will your future as a cyclist unfold?
Pushing my comfort zone—basically saying “no” to nothing, when it comes to a ride. 

Who inspires you and your riding?
Everything I do is for my husband and my three baby girls: As the mother of daughters, I’m hyper-aware of society’s pressures on body image. While I don’t condone it, its reality, so I’ve been trying to figure out ways to lead by example to counteract the impact society will inevitably have on my girls. When I am close to “optimum” in my fitness, naturally, my self-esteem elevates; I carry myself with confidence, and my daughters see that. To my girls, I’m perfect and beautiful right now, and I will never intentionally let them know that I’m in any way trying to change, but I do want them to see that living a healthy lifestyle, an active one, is part of that beauty. They don’t have to be any one way that society demands, just healthy and confident in their own skin. So I’m inspired to inspire them, without them even knowing it, to buck societal norms by living beyond them in the day-to-day.

Favorite Salsa model and why?
This changes seasonally, but currently the hot new Warbird Carbon Rival floats my boat for its versatility. Much of my urban adventure riding is 30-plus miles at a time, making a comfortable and speedy ride a nice option—throw some road tires on that bad boy and you’re set. But living in Minnesota, especially on the edge of the metro, I’m just a stone’s throw from great and also hilly/challenging gravel, a genre of riding I’m still looking forward to explore.

Favorite pre, during, and post ride/race food and bevvies?
Always coffee with flavored creamer as a day-starter. During a ride, I prefer some sort of bar (homemade granola & peanut butter, Clif, Luna, Kind, I’m not picky) and also Clif ShotBlox for fast energy. I prefer straight water on a ride, but try to make sure I’m getting salt/electrolytes from something I’m eating. Post ride/race, depending on the distance, beer tastes pretty good (and I’m not a beer drinker). I like whiskey around a campfire.

When you’re not cycling…
I am likely running, either after my brood (which in addition to the kids includes two dogs) or for exercise.

What don’t you leave home without on a ride?
On solo rides, I’ve been known to enjoy some music for company; Mumford & Sons Pandora station off my cell phone generally does the trick.