Back in March, Chrome Coffee barista and Destroy Bikes team rider, Veronika Volok slayed it at the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race across LA. Next weekend is the 6th Street Drag Race, the final event in the Unified Title Race Series and things are looking pretty good for Ms. Volok. We caught up with her to hear her thoughts on riding fixed, philosophy on racing, and why testosterone is highly motivating.
NAME: Veronika Volok
BIRTHPLACE: Pacifica, CA
BIKE CLUB: FWOD
FIRST BIKE: Bight pink Bianchi Fremont
DAY JOB: Barista at Chrome SF & Cento
FAVORITE SUPERVILLAIN: Jafar from Aladdin
3 SONGS ON YOUR PLAYLIST: Mariah Carey "You'll Always Be my Baby," Daft Punk "Around the World," Sabertooth Zombie "Curly Lox"
How did you get into bikes? Have you always ridden fixed?
I got into bikes 'cause one of my friends was riding fixed. He was actually the person that sold me my first bike and I thought it was a weird concept at first, that there's these pedals that can't go backwards, they just go forward. I got into it as a way to get around in 2008, I never thought I'd get so seriously into it.
What bikes do you have in your stable? Your track frame is USA made, isn't it?
Cerberus Pro made by Destroy Bikes, who I currently bike for. My second bike is a Look K6386 road bike, that I'm currently building up. The Cerebus is made in Redwood City. I don't like keeping a lot of bikes around my house if I'm not going to use them, so I limit myself to those two.
You crushed it at the Marathon Crush, and are ranked #2 leading into the final Wolfpack Hustle event. How did you get so damned fast? Have you been racing for a long time?
I actually haven't been racing long. I feel like the reason why I did so well is because I ride with my boyfriend who is not easy on me, so he helps me push push my limits. I feel like even though I'm in a bike club full of women, it's nice to challenge myself riding with men who are hell of a lot faster than me. I feel like that's the only way to improve myself is by riding with people that are faster than me.
It was rad to see you and your man cross the finish together at the WPH Marathon Crash race, how was that? Most people don't get to race with their partners.
Honestly, it was a really overwhelming and heartfelt moment. I didn't know if I won at that point. It felt good just to know that, not only did I finish, but we both had been able to finish together after pushing so hard.
He was with me 80% of the way, we lost each other at some point, but I was able to catch up with him. At the end, he was on my tail saying "go go go", and pushing me to go faster. I didn't even realize he was there with me, I just was looking at that finish line thinking "I want to get this done, let's go let's go!" My legs were so tired.
What type of race do you like best: Sprints or Endurance?
I used to hate endurance because I thought sprints were easy, you just had to get from Point A to Point B. Lately I've been doing a lot of endurance, not just races, but riding. With sprints, it can go either way, either you do really well, or you don't. In the beginning, I loved doing sprints, because it was easy, but now I love endurance because it's such a challenge. You need to not only be physically strong, but also mentally strong. It's not about starting the race, it's about having the mental strength to finish it.
How do you think you’ll do this weekend at the WPH 6th Street Drag Race?
Oh man! It's coming up! Honestly, I feel neutral about this weekend. My mentality is "can't stop, won't stop." When I do something I'm not in it to win it, I'm in it to do it. If I can finish in the top three, that will be amazing for me.
I hate having the mentality of being #1, because if you don't reach that goal, you're really crushed. I like not having any expectations, playing it by ear.
We’ve heard you’re in an all-girl bike club in Oakland called Fixed Without Dix (FWOD).
We're helping the community by inviting women and transfolks to go ride to go have fun to feel like you're a part of something. The bike industry is so male dominated, so it's awesome to have this group of girls that gets together once a week and just ride bikes and doesn't give a f*ck.
How has riding in a dude-free environment increased your skills?
It's different. It's really relaxing. It's fun to have a girls night out, because there's no competition, you're not trying to impress anyone, you can just be yourself. That's the best part. I feel like sometimes when I ride with guys, they're all showing off. It makes you have to ride even harder because there's these dudes full of testosterone trying to beat the next light.
It feels awesome just having a group of women who have the same interests and hobbies and are united by their two wheeled vehicles.
Having won a #CovetedJersey by winning the WPH Marathon Crash race, what advice do you have for dirtbags like you who aspire to greatness?
You can't have the mentality that you're going to win it. You just have to have the mentality that you're going to do your best, try your hardest, and if you can get that jersey, then eff yeah, but if you don't get it this time, there's always next time. There's always next year.
The fact that I was able to win the race and get the jersey, it was like the angels were singing to me.
You’re a barista at Chrome Coffee in SF, go to school in SJ and ride with a FWOD in Oaktown. How do you do to find balance in your life?
I don't even know. My bike is able to give me the balance of doing everything I have. My bike helps me get from Point A to Point B. My boyfriend also lives with me, so that really saves on time, because I don't have to make plans with him, I'll see him in the end. I think the coffee helps a lot too.
You ride for Destroy Bikes, how long have your been riding for them?
I've been riding with them since 2011 or 2012. My second track bike bike was the Lady Death, but it was too big. The Cerebus Pro was actually a prototype, and the first time I rode it was the Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash and it was so comfortable. With guys, size doesn't matter, but with bikes, it makes all the difference.