Meet Caroline Washam

Pro Downhill Racer and Professional Mountain Bike Skills Coach

Mooresville, NC, USA

You might be asking yourself, “So, wait… she rides bikes for a living?”

Well, not exactly. I also think about bikes, talk about bikes and help create cool stories about bikes… for a living.

My life hasn’t always revolved around bikes, but for over two-thirds of my 33.5 years I have been obsessed with them. It started when I went all-in at 10 years old and spent my carefully hoarded allowance money on a BMX bike. I began rolling around the local track with one sole objective: beat all the boys in my age group. That developed into a love for gravity-fed mountain biking in college and led to a job in the cycling industry a few years later – driving a van full of bikes to events around the western United States for Liv.

Back then, I was just stumbling around saying, “yes,” to the things that made me happy. I never dreamed those yeses would lead to racing World Cups and World Championships, owning my own coaching business or working alongside a global team of inspiring people in the bike industry. I also never imagined I would have the opportunity to ride and train on a magical mountain bike that would allow me to float up to the top of a mountain with ease and ride laps to my heart’s desire – but here we are!

Caroline Washam, riding the Intrigue X E+

Throwback: 2017 was the year that catapulted me into a professional racing career when I stood on the podium next to my idols at the Crankworx Whistler dual slalom. Just a few weeks later, I rode an E-bike for the first time while coaching at an event. To be honest, I really didn’t want to. It was the early days of electric mountain bikes in the United States and I had inherited the negative perceptions that the majority of mountain bikers in my community held at the time: E-bikes were only for older people, E-bikes would cause trail-use issues, and E-bikes would certainly screw with my Strava QOMs. But less than a mile into our ride, me and my fellow coaches were literally giggling with excitement. The concerns and negativity melted away – it was just so freakin’ fun!

That first E-MTB was a bit clunky and there was an obvious lag between your initial pedal stroke and the motor kicking in, which made it less-than-intuitive. It was a far cry from the Intrigue X E+ that I ride today – it’s fast, stable, handles like a dream, and the pedal assist is so instant that sometimes I almost forget I’m on an E-bike… until I look at my heartrate and realize I just recovered on a climb.

Caroline Washam, coaching mountain bike skills

So yes, today my life revolves around bikes. It doesn’t always include riding, though. The majority of my time earning a living in the cycling industry actually involves sitting at a desk. I spend most mornings in the gym or on Zwift, most afternoons and evenings hunched over a computer, and most weekends either coaching, racing or exploring my favorite places. Just like everyone else, my time is short. I’m grateful for my E-MTB because it helps me make the most of my time. If I’m training for a downhill race and need to get more comfortable riding BIG jumps, the E-bike can help me get more runs, in less time, with less fatigue. If I need a workout, I can dial in the level of assist to match how hard my coach wants me to go that day, all while honing my bike handling skills. If I’m scouting a trail for an upcoming MTB skills clinic, I can familiarize myself with the trail and find features in half the time with none of the sweat.

And recovery day? Yeah, E-bike Mondays are a grin-inducing staple on my schedule.

All photos by Leslie Kehmeir.

Caroline Washam, professional downhill athlete

"I love that this bike comes with 140mm of rear travel and a 150mm fork – it’s a suspension setup that can really do it all. It’s fun on my local XC trails, but can also crush it at a place like Ride Kanuga, with technical downhill trails and big jumps!"

-Caroline Washam

"The Liv Shuttle Flats are the best flat pedal riding shoes I've ever had. I love the little pocket for the shoe laces, the sole which has just the right amount of grip and they are so comfy!" 

-Caroline Washam