AUG 23, 2023
Ruby West x Factor
Racing since she was 12, Factor-sponsored athlete Ruby West takes us behind the scenes to get to know what helps her stay grounded and happy. Home, family, and furry friends all help keep her cycling career in perspective. It’s all about self-fulfillment and the pleasure of being out in nature and on two wheels.
Finding the right mix of security and freedom when developing a cycling career has never been easy for any athlete. Ruby West discovered that while pursuing her ambition to be a top-flight cyclocross racer on the World Cup circuit in Europe.
The freedom to ride
Coming home to Canada after an intensely unhappy time racing cyclocross in Belgium, Ruby had to pause and take stock of what she wanted out of her career. “In the summer of 2021, I was at a transition point in my cycling career, I’d been on a lot of traditional team structures, but I just hadn’t found a team that I felt had my needs and goals in mind.”
The landscape of cycling in North America was changing drastically during the COVID years. Road racing for all genders nearly disappeared, while the gravel scene was going from strength to strength. Ruby saw a way to keep her career on course while taking back control. “In the summer of ‘21 I decided for the cyclocross season starting that fall I was going to start my own program. It was very last minute that first season we put it together,” Ruby said. “I was working with a sports management company, Inspire Athlete Group, and they got in touch with Rob (Gitelis), who was immediately interested and so supportive. I think the buy-in immediately and the belief he had in me was important”
Keeping things interesting
With her cyclocross season a success after having had the chance to race Worlds in Arkansas in front of what felt like a home crowd, Ruby and Factor combined forces to expand their working relationship. “I had reached a point where I wanted to try something new and different,” Ruby explained. “I like to do everything, it felt like when I was choosing those trade teams, they were holding me back in some ways and not allowing me to do all the different disciplines that I wanted to.” So Ruby joined the Canadian track team with the goal of making their team pursuit squad for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Being a privateer
Taking back control, removing herself from toxic situations and environments, Ruby had the freedom to rekindle her love of the sport and expand her own skills. It also gives her the chance to choose her equipment according to her specifications. “One of the primary focuses with doing the privateer set up was that I could be selective and pick and choose what I wanted. When you’re on a trade team you are just given a bike and whatever components and told to deal with it even if it’s not great for you.”
In the privateer universe, the rider is responsible for finding all sponsors for equipment, nutrition, and maintenance. All the things that are usually the job of trade teams. Even if it’s extra work, it offers so much more freedom that it benefits both parties. “Being a privateer is a lot of work but it’s a higher reward I find because you have so much more personal buy-in to what you are riding,” Ruby explained. “Having the gear choice is critical. I feel very fortunate and know that the bikes I ride are dream bikes for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And it’s great to be able to say honestly that the equipment I ride I feel is the best out there and I wouldn’t change it if I had any other options.”
At 23, Ruby is still very young with a long career ahead of her. But her relative youth belies the amount of top-flight racing she has already accomplished. “If I hadn’t gone through that experience on that team in Belgium, I wouldn’t have pursued this privateer set up. I came home and had to take stock and ask myself do I even want to race my bike anymore,” Ruby revealed.
“It was a big moment of reevaluation for me and where a lot of this desire to take ownership of my career, work with brands I want to work with, do these events for the fun and the community and reinvigorating those things I love about cycling because there was a point where I was a little lost.”
Finding a personalized team setup gave Ruby the outlet she needed to express herself on and off the bike. She’s keen to help grow the community, especially as it concerns young women who may be interested in following in her footsteps. “Every time I meet a young woman or a little girl, I can see myself in them when I was a little girl and would meet women professionals. I would look up to them and be inspired, and I hope I can do the same for other little girls.”
Ruby’s custom LS
Getting her cross-ready LS customized also added a special level of inspiration and motivation to her racing and training. “Working with Jay Gundizk, Factor’s Creative Director from the Comox Valley, on the custom LS bike was the first thing we did when getting me ready for the cyclocross season. The custom LS is definitely my favorite bike that I have because it is just so personal and even my cat’s picture is on that bike and it’s so special to me,” Ruby said. “It was just such a rewarding process to be able to work on that with Jay. It just felt like he really wanted to make it something that I wanted, which was so special.”
As a multi-discipline professional, Ruby has access to the full gamut of models Factor produces. For her road and time trial racing, she loves the O2 VAM and the SLiCK. And for 2023, she’s looking to make a move to mountain bike racing as well. “I’m getting a LANDO XC this year as well. I did road nationals the first year on Factor and actually won the U23 race, so they gave me a SLiCK as well for the time trial nationals,” Ruby explained.
“Factor has been so incredibly supportive, so when I said I wanted to do the Canadian mountain bike marathon nationals this year, they said they’d get me the LANDO. It’s the first time Canada will be having one, and it will be up in the northern territories. So, it is going to be such a cool experience. So, I was like, can I please have a bike so I can go do this race? I can’t wait!”