I wanted to talk to 15-year-old Jett Jardeleza-Toole for a few reasons. She’s awesome on the bike, but she also embraces a ton of other adventures, including a recent winter camping trip that she did totally solo. I talk to a lot of girls on here who are very serious about racing, and while I love that, I also want to make sure that girls who just love to ride their bikes but are excited about a bunch of other outdoor adventure are also highlighted. Because there is no wrong way to enjoy riding bikes! (That, BTW, is a bit of a hint for Shred Girls book 3, so stay tuned…) But for now, enjoy getting to know the awesome Jett!
Tell me about your recent camping trip!?!
With COVID, our school year has been split up into quadmesters instead of semesters. So, between every quad, we have five days off. We were at my grandparents, and they live next to a small mountain, and it’s a hike up there. It’s definitely a trudge. Very last minute, I just knew that I wanted to go. Luckily, my grandparents do a lot of camping and outdoor trips. So their basement is almost like an outfitters place. It’s amazing. I went down there and my grandpa just gave me all this guidance, which was great, because I was totally lost, and I had no plans. My parents also helped me get ready. And then I left the day after my courses finished and hiked up the mountain. It was so snowy and so hard!
It took most of the day just to get up there. We had strapped all my stuff onto a sled, and I had a barrel on my back with my food. That first day was super windy, which was a bit scary when I was falling asleep, but I set up the tent and everything was fine. Then the second day, my first full day there, was really awesome. After lunchtime, there was a few hours of warmth, when the sun came out and the wind died down and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is even happening right now, this is amazing!’
So I laid all my stuff out to dry and I used that all that time to prep my firewood and stuff so that it wasn’t like the first night where I was tired and hungry. I was all prepped and ready, made my made my stew, ate it and went to bed.
The next day, I woke up in a snowstorm which was very convenient for packing up camp. But I managed and went back down. Did not smell very good.
How did you stay warm at night?
I brought a little shovel with me and I had to dig out an area for my tent in the snow. So then there was kind of snow all around the tent to insulate it. And then inside the tent, I had a sleeping pad, then I had two sleeping bags. And I also wore my puffy jacket and my long johns the whole time and I never took them off. And I slept with my buff and hat and mittens and puffy booties for my feet.
Did you get bored at any point?
I brought a book and a journal, which was really nice, especially when it’s cold and you kind of just want to escape. That was nice. I was never really bored because I was really just trying to conserve my energy and make sure that I didn’t, you know, freeze or anything.
And at night, were you not scared?
I admit, I was terrified there but mostly the first night because I was so tired and I had big day and whatever. And I heard the wolves. So I was lying in my sleeping bag thinking, ‘Don’t move don’t move Jett.’ So, I did not move. I knew I was being being totally unreasonable, but I didn’t move. And the wind was just howling the whole time. My gosh. But then the second night, there were no wolves, which was great. I kind of appreciated the wind the second night because it was more like, ‘oh, haha, I can hear the wind but I can’t actually feel it.’ Like when it’s snowing outside or raining outside, but you’re inside and you can see the snow out the window, but you’re cozy and you have some hot chocolate.
Best thing that you brought with you to eat?
My dad bought me shortbread cookies. They’re delicious, because they have so much butter in them. So they’re not gonna freeze. Those were lifesaver. I did make hot chocolate one of the mornings, which was amazing.
Let’s back up here: What’s your athletic life story?
Pretty much all my life, I’ve been running. That’s what my family does. My sister and I have always run with my parents and I did track club competitively for a few years. But I’ve always done every single sport possible, but the main sports in my house are running and cycling. My mom’s the cyclist, my dad’s the runner. But like everyone does some of everything. I got into cyclocross a few years ago and it was super fun. Oh, and my sister and I started playing basketball a few years ago!
In my grade nine year I managed to do a lot of sports: I managed to be on the basketball team and the cross country team. And I was also on the swim team, which has a billion practices, but I enjoy the practices. Swimming is just for fun, so when I go to the meets, I’m not nervous because I don’t care as much. But at a track meet, I care a lot.
Do you train a lot with your sister?
We do a lot more riding together than running. It’s really fun to ride together, but we have different running styles and preferences.
How did you manage to make time for cyclocross then with cross country and everything else?
Well, we missed a couple practices. There’s definitely a lot going on. Before this year, I had a pretty regular sleep schedule and went to bed early. I know if I stay up too late, I am a complete grump.
When you first tried cyclocross, what what what did you like about it?
I think I liked that there was never very much pressure. When I first I went to a practice, it was only adults and my sister and I were pretty much the only kids there. But everyone was just goofing around. It was so impressive to see what all these people could do on bikes. They weren’t even on BMX bikes or jump bikes, just these stiff cyclocross bikes, but people were hopping and this and that, and they were having so much fun doing it. So just seemed like a really, really fun sport.
And how was racing it?
Racing was pretty fun, too. Because for my first year, I was new to the sport. So again, there was no pressure because it’s like, “oh, well, it’s your first year, you’re not expected to do anything amazing.” The courses were so fun, and it’s never boring. You get to try new things, and especially things that I would not have tried if it wasn’t for a race. Like if I was just riding on my own, I would have got off walked, or just fully skipped certain sections. But when you’re in a race, you’re like, “Oh, well, I’m in a race. I may as well.” And then you try it and realize, ‘Whoa, I can actually do that.’
What was like the hardest part in cyclocross?
My course kryptonite would probably be the sand. I know you just have to keep pedaling, but I’ll often psych myself out, slow down and need to get off
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into cycling, but is super intimidated by the whole thing?
I would say start off small, I think because a lot of the cycling that we see because is these guys racing, and they’re all really intimidating and serious. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Start off small. Just go for a ride by yourself or with some friends, go for a short ride or long ride: it doesn’t really matter. And there are so many different disciplines of cycling, and remember that you don’t have to fit into just one. You can try a bunch, and chances are one or two will click with you.