Rider Profile: Jen Morral
Tell me a little about yourself. What’s your background?
I grew up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania on a farm! There are actually no red lights in my hometown, quite a departure from New York City traffic. I was a “tomboy” growing up. I was constantly rolling around in the dirt and exploring. After graduating high school, I attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania and studied Biochemistry. I thought that I would become a scientist on the cutting edge of research, however, I found that it wasn’t a good fit for me. I eventually landed in NYC, and have lived here for 6 years as of April. Now I’m studying for my master’s in public administration at NYU while also working for NYU.
How did you get into cycling?
An ex-boyfriend’s mom got me into cycling. I met Sunny close to her 50th birthday and she was so fit and full of energy. I had gotten into running in college, but it hurt my knees and I decided that cycling might be the way to stay fit and healthy long term. The following summer, on a borrowed bike, she taught me the ins and outs of road cycling in the hills of upstate New York. We still keep in touch and do plan to ride again someday in the future!
What was your first bike race like?
My first unsanctioned bike race was technically Cranksgiving. It was fast paced and frenetic and fun. I enjoyed the alleycat aspect of it if you chose to ride that way. My first sanctioned bike race was the International Omnium at Kissena in 2016. I had no idea what I was doing haha. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fuel up properly before, and I had only ridden my new bike about three times. I definitely learned a lot and that there are more tactics than than “go fast, turn left.”
What is the best moment you have had on a bike?
Cycling on Highway 1, and riding through Big Sur in California. The most beautiful thing ever.
How have owning and riding bicycles changed the way you interact with your community?
Shortly after moving to NYC, I bought my first bike and then went on meetup.com to find groups to ride with. I found a social group and was rapidly introduced to so many different people and from the different boroughs. I don’t know if I’d have been brave enough on my own to ride in Brooklyn or the Bronx, or do half of the stuff that I have done. Riding bikes has also introduced me to people of different ethnicities and cultures which led me to learn more about myself and my friends. Learning and seeing the differences across different cultures and the different struggles that people face, daily, is what led me to pursue my current degree. I’m specializing in advocacy and political action.
What kind of racer do you want to be? Who’s your inspiration?
I think I want to be a track sprinter, but I’m honestly still figuring it out. I definitely want to learn more tactics and “race smart.” I think my inspiration is Evelyn Stevens. She had an innate knack for biking and did double duty while training and working full time in NYC. I can resonate with that kind of craziness and feeling like you have three jobs. She made it work in the end, and I’m trying my best too.
How would you define success for the 2018 season?
Once I get my cat 3 upgrade in track, I’d like to still be a competitive force in the Women’s 1/2/3 or 3/4/5 fields at Kissena. Ideally that would result in podiums haha. Be great if I could get my cat 2 upgrade this year. I’d also like to finish top 5 at a Trexlertown race. For road cycling, I’m considering trying out the Bear Mountain Classic, my success may be just to finish that one. I’d also like to return to the Ambler PA crit in August and place top 10. Lastly, I want to try out fixed gear criteriums, and participate in the Fyxation series. Success there may be to keep it rubber side down because I’ve never done fixed gear crits!
What superhero power would you have and why?
To fly. My bike does a good job, but to be able to fly effortlessly and gain altitude like a bird would be really something. I think flying is the embodiment of freedom.