Our Athletes: Get to Know Ruby West

Dec 2, 2021

Twenty two year old Canadian, Ruby West, has been cycling for over ten years now having taken up the sport as a 12 year old after realising that chasing her father’s competitive footsteps in the pool wasn’t for her, and that she had some serious two-wheeled talent.

Although still only young, Ruby has achieved a lot in the sport and most impressively, she’s excelled in just about every discipline there is, trying her hand at all things cycling; from road to cross, track and mountain biking. Ruby’s dreams and focus now stand by her number one passion, Cyclo-cross, closely followed by Track cycling as she hopes to pursue her goal of competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and ultimately, the 2024 Olympics in Paris after being recruited by the Canadian Track cycling squad late last year.

We are incredibly proud to announce that we have combined forces with such a budding talent and vibrant personality, welcoming Ruby to the #FactorFamily as a Factor athlete for the remainder of the 2021 season, through to 2022.

Since coming on board, Ruby has been clocking kilometres on the Factor SLiCK, dialling her time trial and sharpening her track speed. She’s also recently received her custom LS, carefully designed by our team to showcase the things that are most important to Ruby, with a fun but sentimental flair, highlighting her farm lifestyle and her great love for animals.


Read on to discover more about Ruby’s custom LS, joining the Factor Family, a bit about her and her big ambitions in the sport.

 

Photography by Michael Chan, Inspire Athlete Management

THE FACTOR CONNECTION

When Factor was connected with Ruby earlier this year, CEO Rob Gitelis was instantly interested in collaborating. Having put a stronger focus on the development and support of women’s cycling in recent years, through partnering with a number of women’s teams and athletes, including; Parkhotel Valkenburg and InstaFund La Prima Racing, Ruby was the perfect fit to continue our commitment to women’s cycling and break into several new disciplines with her specialties lying in Cyclo-cross and Track cycling. Thankfully for us, her enthusiasm to join the Factor Family was reciprocated:

“Factor was a really cool opportunity this year. When my agents got in touch with Rob, they had an initial conversation with him and he sounded really enthusiastic right off the bat. Factor has been working with more and more women recently, looking to provide opportunities and support women’s sport. All of the efforts and energy they’re putting in to supporting more women’s teams and female athletes has been really exciting for me and it just seemed like a great fit. It feels good to be aligned with a brand that sees women and female athletes as important and seeing just how excited they were right from the start made me too. In that first chat with Rob he said, ‘let’s do custom bikes and let’s do this and that’. The enthusiasm he had was cool and that carried all the way down the line from everyone I’ve worked with at Factor. So far, the entire team have been super kind and excited about the project. I’ve had a great time working with them. It’s a huge company but also a small one and everyone I’ve worked with has been very personable. It’s really made me feel like I’m part of a family. I’ve worked with some bigger bike brands before and you feel like more of a number there, so It’s really refreshing to know a lot of people within the company and to have those personal and meaningful relationships with the people you’re working with.”

Ruby’s instant connection with Factor led to her swiftly joining the team, where the excitement about having her on board was shared with company Graphic Designer and Creative Director, Jay Gundzik, who got to work to create something special for Ruby’s custom LS. Custom at Factor doesn’t mean just simply putting together different colour schemes and patterns. It’s all about the personal touch and creating a design that is significant and meaningful to the rider. So, following several conversations and Pinterest boards later, Ruby’s dream bike came to life…

“The first time Jay called me, he asked me so many questions and wanted to get to know me as a person and that was really interesting to me because when I heard custom I just thought, ‘oh I don’t know, they’ll just decide what they want to do and it will look awesome,’ and obviously I was excited about that, but I didn’t know that custom really meant whatever I wanted it to be. We made a Pinterest board of the things that are special to me in my life and the overarching important part of my life is that I live on a farm and so I’ve grown up outdoors, loving nature and animals. I had one picture of a sunset of the farm I live on and that’s kind of where the colour inspiration came from. It was this beautiful sky of the sunsetting and that’s why we decided on the orange and blue. And then all of the animals on the bike are little critters on our farm here. My cat, Simba has a heavy feature which I love and is so special, then there’s a blue heron on top of the bike and that’s kind of a spirit animal per se that has always been a sign of good luck for me. My donkey and some chickens also feature! It’s playful and fun to look at but also really meaningful and important to me, so it’s nice that it has a few different meanings aside from just the great aesthetics,” shared Ruby. 

While we were thrilled to hear that Ruby loves her new bike and its carefully thought out design, we were also curious to find out how she’s enjoying riding it. Having just received her new LS a few weeks ago, here she shares her first reaction: 

The LS is a rocket ship on and off the road. From my first ride, I was shocked at how responsive and snappy the bike felt under me. Any amount of power I put down translated directly into the bike zipping along the trails. It’s hard to describe because it really feels like a road bike on the road, but also an off-road race machine. I guess it can just adapt to whatever is thrown at it! I’m  absolutely in love with the LS, it is lightweight, yet sturdy under you off-road, it handles like a dream and responds beautifully to whatever terrain it’s given. It really is the perfect bike!”

Although just getting to know her LS, Ruby has been on the SLiCK for a number of months, sharpening up her time trial skills and aiding her Track cycling conditioning.

“I love the SLiCK. It had been a while since I’d ridden a time trial bike and it’s crazy because normally they’re miserable machines that you’re really just meant to suffer on, but this bike is so much fun. The first time I rode it, it just felt so fast and it made me feel fast. I’ve only had the opportunity to ride and race on it a few times but I’ve loved every second on it. It sounds fast. It looks fast. I love the colours and the design on it and it just feels incredible to ride. It feels so smooth and you just in a way feel one with the machine, like it’s helping you out there on the road.”

BACKGROUND, BALANCE, SUCCESS AND A BRIGHT FUTURE

Having grown up playing just about every sport there is, when Ruby eventually chose cycling, she embraced her all-rounder abilities by taking up almost every cycling discipline in the books. Not only down to her talent and go-getter attitude, but due to her versatile training grounds from her home on a small town farm in the Dundas, Ontario area in Canada. The ideal location for hitting the forest for some mountain bike shredding or Cyclo-cross, with quality roads for road riding and the only indoor regulation sized track in Canada a convenient 40 minute drive away.

“Over the years, it’s really been about staying true to what I enjoy the most. I did road a lot when I was a junior and when I moved into the elite category, I decided to step away from that a little because I didn’t really see myself wanting to pursue that as much, so I leaned more towards the track, and mountain biking for fun. For me, it’s always been about keeping things interesting.”

In more recent years, Ruby made the call to solely focus on her biggest passion, Cyclo-cross where she has ridden to some great success in the junior and U23 categories, including a credible 9th place at the World Championships in 2019 and 1st place at the Panamerican Championships that same year, among a string of impressive UCI victories. Currently amidst the thick of the cross season, she has been keeping busy racing abroad through the USA and is now back at home in full preparation mode for the Canadian Championships and the World Championships in January. 

“It’s my first year in the elite category at the National Championships, so I’m really excited to see what I can do there. Obviously the goal is a jersey but we have some pretty steep competition on the women’s side, so it will be a battle for sure. And then the World’s at the end of January are up in Arkansas in North America, so I’m curious to see how I can perform there on a North American course against all the Europeans.”

 

Her palmarés don’t just lie out on the cross field, but also on the road and track. Having dabbled in both disciplines since her junior years, she’s proven her strengths in all areas, this year surprising herself by winning the Canadian U23 National Championships. 

“It had been a while since I raced on the road leading into the Road Nationals and I kind of went there not knowing what to expect. I focussed more on the time trial in preparation and I was a little bummed when I finished second there, so the road race was a nice surprise for me.”

Ruby’s hard work across multi-disciplines didn’t go amiss as last year she was recruited to the Canadian NextGen program, focussed on building and supporting a team of athletes with the end goal being the 2024 Olympic Games, and for Ruby, the team pursuit. 

“After Tokyo most of our elite women’s team retired and that team had been together for five to ten years, so there wasn’t a lot of room there to break through. Now that there’s been a shift in the program, it seemed like a good time for me to pursue it and the next Olympics is only three years away, so it’s a very motivating opportunity to try and see if that’s something I can pursue. I committed to the team last November and have trained and competed with them this year, but definitely will be putting more energy into that in the new year and going into the World Cup season next year.” 

With her efforts now spaced out between Cyclo-cross and Track cycling with the National team – for Ruby, it’s all about finding the right balance and juggling her calendar wisely to avoid overdoing it and to stay motivated for each discipline. 

“It’s been interesting preparing for both because they are so different but I kind of enjoy that because it keeps things really fresh. I can go from a very structured, data driven, high performance environment at the track that gets me extremely fit and fast, to something fun like cross. During the last few track camps, I really needed it. It was the perfect escape for me. I would go and do these super focused track days and then on my recovery days I could ride my cross bike in the forest. So, for me it’s a really good balance of fun, focus and high performance, but also just really enjoying riding my bike and I think that that brings out the best in me.”

Ruby is clearly incredibly passionate about riding her bike, no matter what the occasion or terrain. Here, she elaborates on what she loves most about bike riding…

 “One of the reasons I do so many different kinds of riding is that I love the variety that it affords, like just getting out and enjoying. Where I live we have some amazing trails and roads and obviously the track is nearby. So, I love the opportunity to ride all sorts of different bikes. For me, it never gets boring that way and I can see the beautiful scenery and be in touch with nature and it’s kind of a grounding experience. No matter what’s going on in the world, if you just go out and ride your bike in the forest, everything feels a little lighter, especially this last year during the pandemic. It’s been really important for me, especially when racing was taken away to still be able to go out and ride my bike anytime. It gives me a real sense of freedom. I also love the people that I’ve met through cycling – some of my closest friends, my boyfriend and a lot of the most important people in my life I’ve met through the sport, so it’s definitely a social thing for me. I love going on group rides and training with my teammates, going to races and being on those projects. The sense of camaraderie and all the amazing places we get to travel because of cycling. I love it all!

Follow Ruby on Instagram to keep up to date with her adventures and cheer her on during her eventful race season: 

Instagram

 

Ride the Same Bikes as Ruby: 

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