A Game of 20 Questions with Olivia Dillon

Its no secret that we absolutely LOVE Velocio apparel here at EmpowerHer Cycling... Of course, Olivia was one of the first people we thought of when we started the 'game of 20 questions' and we were so excited to get her answers!

Olivia is from Ireland originally, currently living in California. She used to be a pro roadie, but she spends a fair amount of time riding dirty on gravel these days. When she isn't riding her bike, she is the director of retail sales at Velocio, a brand that makes pretty amazing cycling clothing and is especially innovative in their women's line.

As a side note, if you happen to be in Vancouver, BC in late August, she will be hanging out at Bicicletta bike shop before and after the Bici Mount Baker ride (and will be doing the ride also) - we are sure she would love it you stopped by to say hi! 

Meet Olivia Dillon

Location: Fairfax, California 

Follow Olivia: @oliviadill  |  @velocioapparel

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1. How long have you been riding bikes?

Besides riding as a kid and a little commuting out of college, probably about 14 years

2. How did you get acquainted with cycling?

When I was living in NYC, I had a friend who was into cycling and at the same time the company I worked for offered a deal to employees on Raleigh bikes so I bought a Mountain Bike. Yes, in NYC, not ideal. I soon realized a road bike might be more appropriate.

3. What kind of riding do you do? (track, mtb, road, cx, all of the above, etc)

Road and off-road! The off-road is generally MTB or 'Gravel'. I tried track about 10 years ago and liked it but when you don't live near a track it is kinda pointless. I have raced a tiny bit of CX but it’s not really my jam. But I love supporting and watching that discipline.

4. How many bikes have you owned throughout your time cycling?

All the bikes I have ever owned? Actually it may not be that many since I raced professionally and did not own those bikes. I did own a Raleigh MTB & Road (crashed one so got another). Then a Cervelo R3 & P5 TT bike. A Jamis MTB. A Specialized Tarmac, actually two of those. Then a Scott Spark MTB. On teams, I have raced on Fuji, Felt, Specialized and Orbea.

5. How many bikes do you currently own?

I currently own 4 bikes - Specialized Amira, Diverge and Crux. And a Scott Spark.

6. What is your dream bike?

I would really like to try a custom steel bike at some point. A lot of super cool brands out there and I love the idea of it being custom fit to me. People rave about how they ride too.

7. What is your most memorable cycling experience?

That is a tough question because there are just so many and I continue to have memorable experiences. Cycling has taken me so many beautiful places and I meet so many amazing people. I suppose a highlight would be the Coast Ride that my wife Tayler and I do every year, or at least we did 5 years in a row and each year was different. Of those, the most epic was when we rode from Portland OR back to our home in Fairfax CA over 7 days with her Dad as our support! Those memories will last forever. And luckily she wrote a photo blog on each one so we can revisit them.

8. How many of your friends ride bikes?

It might be easier to count how many of my friends don't ride bikes. I would say that in the last 10 years most of the new friends I have made all ride bikes. It is my school, college and prior work friends that don't.

9. Do you prefer riding alone, in a small group or a large group?

It depends on the day and where I am at. Normally when Tayler and I are in the same place, we will mostly ride together unless I am not into what is on her training plan or if I prefer to go play in the dirt. But I absolutely love our local group rides in Fairfax and really miss them when I'm traveling. When traveling for work I'm usually riding with groups of all sizes too. When I ride alone I love to listen to podcasts.

10. Have you ever travelled with your bike? Where?

This is hilarious, I am currently flying to NYC from Barcelona and hopefully my bike is on the flight too. I have travelled extensively with my bike.

11. What is the biggest challenge you faced when you started riding bikes?

In a way it is hard to recall but I can imagine it was mostly that I knew nothing about it and there was just so much to learn both physically, mentally and the all the equipment.  I really had no idea what I was doing but thankfully i started to ride with people who did and I got lots of help and advice over time.

12. What are your cycling goals for this year?

I can't say I necessarily set goals anymore for cycling. I do usually start the year with the intention of doing as many races/events as I can. These are generally off-road gravel or MTB. We have a series in NorCal called the Grasshoppers which are mixed terrain pretty long races/rides and I usually try start the year doing a few of them. Now it is all about super fun events that involve camping and a weekend away with friends, so Lost & Found, Epic Rides etc.

13. What is your post-ride ritual?

Chamois off asap, shower and a recovery smoothie of some sort.

14. Bibs or non-bibs?

Bibs all the way! They are crucial to feeling comfortable on the bike. Given that Velocio makes the Fly Bibs with a zipper and the FlyFree Bibs peeing quickly with jersey on is easy. Bibs bring everything together so to speak and feel incredibly supportive. Shorts will move around more and can cause problems.

15. Do you believe that your socks should be at least 5” long, or, short?

I like to wear them long but some people hate tan lines so I'm not one to judge the length of people socks.

16. What is your hairstyle preference while cycling?

Braid all the way or a plait given that I am Irish. Only problem is, I actually am not very good at it so when Tayler is home that is another one of her jobs. When she is away my friends call me out on my bad bachelor braid.

17. What snacks are always in your jersey pocket?

Generally whatever food is in the house. I rather eat real food or bars on the bike. Baked goods are certainly preferred. May as well enjoy the food!

18. Cycling specific sunglasses or casual glasses?

Oh, I've never even considered wearing non cycling specific but if you like that look go for it. Cycling specific are that way for a reason though and I like them to fit with helmet and not be falling down.

19. Bar tape loud and bright, or black and classic?

Black and classic here mainly because I can't stand dirty bar tape. Leave the white for professionals who's race mechanics will change it as soon as there is a speck of dirt. There are some subdued designs though that are cool but the dark color is key.

20. What advice would you give to other women who are just starting out?

First, applaud them for getting started. Yay, more women on bikes! It can be overwhelming so really just start with shorter distances and gradually build time and distance. Don't be afraid of hills, they make you stronger. There are some key things that do make the overall experience more enjoyable and likely sustainable. Your bike does not need to be super fancy but you do need to have a bike fit and a good saddle. We are all built so differently and have different physical constraints or flexibility so having a professional set you up correctly is so important and then come back with feedback and they usually make further refinements. Also, clothing is important especially the Bibs. Invest in a  good quality chamois as it will go a long way to making you want to go out again the next day. Clothing that is breathable and fits you is important.

Also, ride with others of varying abilities so you learn from more experienced people. And hit up some skills clinics from basic to descending, cornering etc.

Keep at it, it takes a while to build up endurance but it will take you to far away places once you do


Stay tuned for next week's feature... If you want to be featured, fill in our ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE. We would love to feature ALL women who ride bikes, regardless of where they are from, their age, ability or experience level.