Despite being an olympic athlete, Jill Moffatt is relatively new to cycling – her journey onto the bike was expedited when the announcement that the Olympic Games was going to be postponed and Rowing Canada made the decision to shut down training at the lake on beautiful Vancouver Island for the athletes safety. This meant that Jill was no longer able to row, either on her own or with her teammates. Jill decided to try road cycling to keep her training volume up and supplement the time she wasn’t on the water.
IRIS catches up with Jill to find out more about her journey into cycling and her love for finding a new sport!
You only recently started cycling in your preparation for the Tokyo Olympics amidst a pandemic. What prompted the move to start cycling and how did you get started?
We went from showing up to practice one day, to not knowing if the Olympics would even happen. Our training venue was closed on on beautiful Vancouver Island. With rowing training off the cards, my only solution was to start cycling.
Luckily my teammate and close friend, Kristen Kit, let me borrow her speedy road bike for a couple of weeks until I found one. However, everyone in the world was seemingly in the market for a road bike which led me to buy Kristen’s older cyclocross bike, and we set it up like a road bike and I fell in love!
I didn’t realise how much cycling apparel actually went along with cycling… call me naive but my mind was blown. Kristen once again graciously gave me many of her hand me downs, I bought her old helmet, borrowed her extra bike pump, and even grabbed some extra shammy cream from her! Needless to stay, Kristen Kit lived up to her name and helped me fall in love with cycling.
How has cycling benefitted your rowing and how do you incorporate cycling into your training program?
Oh it has helped so much! Immediately I noticed the benefits. Although my rowing race is typically around 7-8 minutes long, we spend most of our time doing aerobic work and working on improving our V02 capacity. But the downside to rowing is that you can only train for around 2-2.5 hours before you fall apart technically, and it begins to put you at risk for injuries. Meanwhile with cycling I was able to get in way more continuous volume than I could rowing. Plus exploring Van Island on my bike was such a nice mental escape that it really made each session extremely enjoyable.
During the pandemic-period, I would use biking as my main source of training, and then I would do a couple of workouts on the indoor rowing machine. When we got back into training on the water with the Olympic team and things became more ‘normal’ we would spend our first session of the day rowing, and would cycle for cross training sessions.
Once we got 5 months out from the Olympic Games I moved to indoor cycling training. My training partner and I didn’t want to risk falling, so we played it extremely safe and spent some mind-numbing hours indoors on the stationary trainer!
The Tokyo Olympics was your first ever Olympics, how did it go and what was your most memorable experience?
It was more than I could have ever expected! With the pandemic I wasn’t sure what the Games would be like, but they were magical. It was almost surreal after not racing for two years and the Olympics didn’t disappoint. In terms of my own personal result, my boat came in 12th, which was really disappointing for us. We just couldn’t get into our groove and it really felt like we weren’t able to row to our capabilities. It’s hard to describe it, but I walked away knowing that wasn’t my best showing, which was really difficult to swallow. That was the first time I had experienced a result in that way, but I think it will be something that I look back on as a learning moment. It really fuels me to train for the Paris Olympics and to leave a Games knowing I put everything out there.
My most memorable experience… That’s tough because a lot of it was amazing. My most memorable moment would have to be after the racing was done. My boatmate and I got together with all of our competitors (I am in a two person boat), and we spent the night together swapping stories about the last 5 years of training, our personal goals after rowing, the ups and downs, and everything in between. It really felt like a sisterhood in that moment and it is something that I will cherish for a long time. We spend so much time competing against each other, that to hang out in the way, like nothing separated us anymore, was really special and made me realise the power of sport. At that moment I really understood how the Olympics bring us together and the beauty in that.
The Olympic Games were magical. My most memorable experience was after the racing was done. All the competitors got together, hung out and swapped stories about our journey’s to Tokyo.. it felt like a sisterhood. Nothing separated us anymore and it made me realise the power of sport. At. that moment, I really. understood how. the Olympics bring us together and the beauty in that.
You volunteer for Fast and Female (a Canadian charity whose mission is to keep self-identified girls aged 8-14 healthy and active in sports) – can you tell us a little more about your role?
Fast and Female is amazing! I joined the organisation many years ago as R.E.A.L Role Model, which stands for Relatable Empowered Active Leaders.
Pre-pandemic Fast and Female hosted an event on Vancouver Island that I was able to attend in person (they host events all around the country). My R.E.A.L role was to be a leader of a group of 8-10 girls, and lead them through different events that introduced them to various forms of activity, such as field hockey, rowing, scuba diving, and dance. I also answered any questions they had about sports and I would just chat with them about anything they wanted!
My role is to show young girls that being active and engaging in sports isn’t just for boys and men. I, and the organisation, really believe in the impact of seeing women in sport. Young girls drop out of sport at such a higher rate than young boys, and I/we hope to interrupt that pattern by introducing them to women who are involved in sport and inspiring them to continue – at whatever intensity that is.
We actually just hosted an online summit for the last 5 weeks, open to girls aged 8-14, and myself and a Paralympic swimmer acted as the MCs. It was so great to meet these young girls and chat with them about being active, mindfulness, and body positivity. I love every chance to be involved with Fast and Female and can’t say enough great things about them!
What do you love about IRIS cycling apparel?
EVERYTHING. Specifically I love the design/quality. I am usually a hot pink kind of person, I love sparkles and my fashion icon is Carrie Bradshaw – aka anything goes.
I love the designs that IRIS – I Ride In Style has. They are so unique, yet you can rotate various pieces and they go together. They have a playfulness that makes me feel special when I am riding.
When I first dipped my toe into the cycling apparel world I was using mostly hand me downs. And as an amateur athlete, I don’t have a big budget for workout clothes. When I bought my first pair of new bib shorts, I knew I had to go with IRIS – I Ride In Style. They are so comfortable, the quality is fantastic, and I love the length. I just knew that the quality would be there, and I could trust them to deliver, ride after ride.
Anything else we should know about that makes you unique?
When I’m not spending my time on the water or on my bike, I am usually in school! I have completed my undergraduate degree, masters degree, and I am now part of a Fellowship in Global Journalism. I hope to do a lot more writing, and the stories I am focusing on usually centre around women and equity in sport.