If you had told Krystal Salvent a decade ago that she’d be bombing down trails in Colorado on a mountain bike>>>P, she probably wouldn’t have believed you at all.
Salvent, 34, grew up in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where bikes weren’t really part of her childhood.“I remember riding a friend’s bike one time as a kid and it landed me in a bunch of bushes,” she told Bicycling>>>P.“I went home bruised and battered and that was that.”
It wasn’t that Salvent was a quitter; she just knew what she liked and what she didn’t like—and she didn’t like road rash>>>P.
Fast forward to her adult years. Salvent was in dental hygiene school at New York University (NYU) in Manhattan when she started running quite a bit and becoming more interested in fitness.“I started running at a very young age—through middle school and into high school. When I started school at NYU, I continued to run for fitness, but increasing mileage. I decided to start running more double-digit distances, and took on half marathon training>>>P.”
Salvent joined a local run club and became certified as a personal trainer and run coach, and led corporate fitness classes. After finishing school, Salvent taught more and more indoor cycling classes on-site at huge companies. She transitioned away from working full time as a dental hygienist and started fitness modeling, teaching group fitness classes, and working with personal training clients. But she started developing overuse injuries from running.
“A girlfriend of mine said,‘Why don’t you take this whole spinning thing outside? I really think you would dig the environment.’”
Salvent wasn’t totally convinced, but she decided to give it a try. Her friend told her to connect with America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride—a century ride around Lake Tahoe—because the community is supportive and helpful, and she’d get to travel to someplace beautiful as a payoff for all of the training. So Salvent signed on with Team in Training—a community that helps fundraise and prepare for the big ride, which would raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society>>>P.“My father has leukemia, so this ride had a lot of different pieces coming together for me.”
After a month of training on indoor bikes>>>P, Salvent finally got her hands on a road bike>>>P.“My first time really riding outdoors, we did 35 miles. I didn’t know how to clip in and out, shift gears—I didn’t know anything. But everyone shuttled around me and made sure I didn’t fall into a car or something worse. I was super supported by a great group of people, and it was so much fun.”
Salvent completed the Tahoe century ride in June 2018, and credits her fitness with her spinning experience.“Comparing spinning to riding 100 miles on a bike outside is like comparing apples and bananas. But that’s how I got into cycling, and the whole training process was tough but incredible.”
After reaching that goal, Salvent found other groups to ride with. She couldn’t get enough.“I started riding with a group of women at the Rapha Clubhouse in Manhattan, and I got really friendly with a bunch of people there, and I just loved the experience. I still have friends from those group rides that I’m constantly in touch with.”
After 12 years of living in Manhattan, Salvent realized she was burnt out, so in December 2018, Salvent made the move out to Denver, Colorado.“I’d been having the mountain itch for several years, and I wanted to take my riding more seriously…. The hustle and grind is taxing, wears on you. Sport and lifestyle had become very important to me, and it was time to go where being outdoors and riding bikes were more readily accessible.” Salvent now divides her time between being a dental hygienist in Denver, and fulfilling her adventuring lifestyle.
Riding became a way for Salvent to see places—like single-track trails through golden aspen trees—she never could have otherwise seen.“Even in Jersey, when I was on a bike, I’d see places that I had never been to, even though I had spent my whole life there.”
You can’t live in the mountains for very long before you start wondering what it’s like to ride a bike on trails instead of roads, so Salvent dove right in.“I started mountain biking early this summer, and I did a clinic led by Brooke [Goudy], and it was just like second nature. It was really exciting and wasn’t long before I started to take jumps and try new things [on the mountain bike].”
Salvent is admittedly always gung-ho about new adventures, but also says it’s okay to have your limits.“Sometimes I’ll be riding and will be like,‘Guys I love you to bits, but I’m not taking this four-foot drop.’ If it feels sketchy, I just won’t do it—I’m not trying to get hurt. I was out on a ride with friends who are very experienced on bikes. We were riding the 401 trail [in Crested Butte, Colorado], when we came to an area where the exposure was out of my comfort level. The line to follow was very tight and I was a little too nervous to proceed. I stepped off the trail in a safe spot, let the group pass and took it really slow. I’m glad I did. The group waited a ways up, and I was able to confidently and slowly ride the rest of the trail.”
She also encourages vulnerability—to push yourself, but also voice when you’re intimidated.“Try to find a buddy. Try to make a friend so you don’t feel alone. Sometimes I go to a trailhead and just approach people who look friendly. Sometimes I’m like,‘Hey I’m pretty new to this, do you mind if I follow your line and hang with you a bit?’ And they’re often like,‘Hell yeah!’ I know I’m lucky to have that experience, but even more in the mountain bike scene [than the road bike scene] I’ve had people respond really positively and offer advice.”
For others who want to try something they find intimidating, Salvent says,“Just get started, even if that means putting the bike in the car and driving to the trailhead. You don’t even have to get out of the car. And then you do it again, and again, and you finally get out of the car. And then you go down the trail a little ways.”
Salvent has also created bonds with groups and organizations that are helping other people—especially women and girls of color—get on bikes and adventure outdoors.
She had been aware of Outride>>>P, an organization dedicated to getting more kids on bikes through a variety of grants, and was recently named as one of their ambassadors.
“I love what Outride is doing to get more kids on bikes. They’ve been on my radar for a while, so I applied to be an ambassador for them. I’m an auntie—I have three nieces and a nephew—and they are the loves of my life. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that I found this biking passion as an adult, but I want them to find that joy as kids.”
Salvent believes so much can be done for kids that will help them with their entire future— on and off the bike.“If we start to plant seeds in all children so that it looks the same for everyone, then they won’t grow up to be adults who see differences over similarities.”
Salvent also hooked up with the founder of Black Girls Do Bike, Denver>>>P, Stephanie Puello, and co-leader Brooke Goudy, and they created some goals to help support the community.“We all have big visions and ideas about what we wanted to do separately, and how we could accomplish everything together. We’re all really different when it comes to biking, and that helps us reach more people. It’s been really exciting to work with these women [as a co-leader of the group]. There’s no elitism in our group, which is so nice, because you don’t see that very often in the bike world.”
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Salvent has developed a“life is too short not to try things” mentality. And she’s continuing to live that mindset. This coming summer and fall, she’s hoping to take on tons of challenges and events.
She recently became sponsored by Salsa Cycles>>>P, and was also chosen for the SBT GRVL race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in August, as part of their collaboration with RideForRacialJustice>>>P. Additionally, she’s hoping to take part in other rides and races throughout the west and even a mountain bike trip to Mexico.“I identify as half-Mexican and want to reconnect with the land and the culture. My bike is an apparatus that I love so much, and it will enable me to connect in a new way to that place.”
Salvent is ambitious, to say the least. And more than anything, she wants others to be ambitious too.“If you want something, you’ve just got to make it happen.”