“I’m a cycling nerd and I don’t care who knows!” These are the words of world-class runner and cycling superfan, Aisha Praught Leer. You may recognize from the 2016 Summer Olympics when she competed in the steeplechase for Jamaica. Or perhaps you saw her win gold in the same event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. How about the time where she boldly switched things up and finished second in the 1,500 meters at the 2019 Pan American Games? Needless to say, Aisha is versatile, adaptable, and to put it in cycling terms, an all-rounder.
We caught up with the cycling-obsessed runner who has a lot of insight and knowledge when it comes to both sports. Plus, she shares her hopes with us on her desire to become an avid cyclist one day.
“Cross-training is not in my repertoire on top of all the training. I’m tired enough at the end of the day.” She runs on average 85-96 miles per week, including three gym sessions. That said, there’s no doubt she would excel at it. After all, there’s something to be said about runners who turn into cyclists, right?
Leer first got into racing as a child when she saw her dad’s involvement and passion for the sport. “He raced crits in our hometown when I was young. My memories vaguely revolve around baking on a camping chair in the hot summer sun. At the time, I wanted to either leave or have more half-melted popsicles,” said Leer. However, she got back into cycling much later in life when she moved to Boulder in 2017 and befriended a neighbor who was a regular contributor to VeloNews. “I joined his Tour de France fantasy league and began watching races on TV,” said Leer.
The runner became an EF Pro Cycling fan in 2019 after she traveled to the start of the Tour de France in Brussels. “I was racing in Leuven, Belgium, which was only 17 minutes to the team time trial,” said Leer. She hopped on a train with her friend (who was a college teammate with Mike Woods) and watched that stage in awe and admiration. “The Tour is tied with the Olympics as the most amazing sporting event I have ever attended,” said Leer.
When it comes to cycling for fitness however, Leer says that she’s strictly a cycling fan and wouldn’t go as far to call herself a “cyclist.” After all, she’s pretty busy with her professional running career (Leer is at training camp right now). “I do envision myself as a climber when I eventually transition to riding,” said Leer. For now, Leer enjoys using the bike as a means of transport and lives in the perfect town to tandem in with her husband (also a professional runner). “I usually hop on the back — and provide all the power — with him to grab a glass of wine on a nice day,” said Leer.
When asked if cycling has improved her running, Leer says it has in more of a mental way. Plus, she enjoys it as a means of recovery, but not in the way you’d think. “I find the races so complex and interesting. I’ll typically sit down and watch a race while I rest my legs after running,” said Leer.
The running pro believes her love for cycling is quite unique, especially since she lives in such a prominent cycling town. “I think I’m the only person in Boulder who cares a lot about cycling, but doesn’t actually cycle at all. I have only ever climbed Lee Hill on foot. It is a very hard workout, I do not recommend it,” said Leer.
Yet, just because she’s not a “cyclist” doesn’t mean she can’t draft a great fantasy team for the TDF or isn’t catching up on some of her favorite cycling podcasts. Plus, she even ranked her favorite races for us before she went back to her training:
1. Tour de France
2. Liege-Bastogne-Liege—I have spent many summers in the Flanders region of Belgium and love seeing the familiar landscapes!
3. The Dauphiné (I like to check riders out here to get insights for my TdF fantasy team).
And her honorable mention?
4. Strade Bianche—so beautiful!
Thanks for your time and for being a fan, Aisha. We’re excited to see you running in 2021 and can’t wait to see your draft picks for the 2021 Tour de France.