Carving the Way: Author, Athlete, + Influencer Hayley Diep

Hayley Diep, author
Hayley Diep, author

Q: What age did you first ride a bike?
A: My parents got me on a bike when I was about 5. I had one of those pink/purple “girl” bikes that I’d ride up and down my street. We lived on a hill, so I had some fun scrape-ups, but I stopped riding bikes after elementary school and didn’t get into biking again until my senior year of college. At first, I was using my bike to commute. I didn’t start riding for fun or as a sport until I was 23. My husband and I got into doing triathlons, and so I learned how to do road rides. I didn’t even know mountain biking was a sport that you could do until I was 25!

Q: What is your favorite style of riding?
A:
It is so hard to choose between road or mountain biking! I love them both. They each have their fun and challenges, but right now, I have been really enjoying mountain biking. I like being on trails and learning new skills. It’s the most satisfying feeling to come back to a trail and conquer obstacles that I couldn’t do before. I feel like with mountain biking, I can see my progress. Also, I don’t have to worry about getting hit by cars.

Q: What was one of the most challenging rides you have ever done?
A:
A 121-mile bike ride (road ride) with a little over 8,000 feet of elevation gain total. Five thousand feet of the elevation gain was in the first 20 miles. It was the longest ride I’d ever done, and it took a lot of mental willpower and food to finish it. 

Q: What is your dream ride trail or destination?
A:
I don’t know if I have a dream ride trail, but I’d love to try mountain biking out in Moab, Utah. I’ve seen photos and videos. The trails out there look beautiful. I’m just not sure if my skill level is there yet.

Q: What or who influenced you to write your book?
A:
I was inspired to write my book after a bike ride with friends. My two friends and I had been the only women on a trail. I drove home that night with the line in my head, “If you give a girl a bike, she will ride and ride and ride.” Then, my book was born. I thought about the other male-dominated sports that exist that I enjoy doing and figured that my character could do them all!

Q: Why did you choose The Be Good Foundation as one of the recipients of your book proceeds?
A:
The Be Good Foundation is one of six foundations that will receive proceeds (only if the book is bought directly through my website, though). I chose it because I love its mission and all of the good that it is trying to accomplish. It is removing unexploded ordnances in Laos that were left behind from the Vietnam War. My family is from Vietnam and escaped after the war, and so I know how the war has directly impacted people who live in those countries. My family was lucky enough to leave. It is unfortunate that not everyone has that opportunity and that their homes aren’t safe due to these unexploded bombs. I love that the Be Good Foundation is trying to make these places safer for the people. I also love that it supports other cycling-related nonprofits to help get more people on bikes.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away?
A:
I hope that all readers, young and old, will be inspired to get outside and try any of these sports. I also hope that all girls, but specifically minority girls, will see themselves in this book and know that they are capable of doing these sports. 

Q: Why did you select Braden as your book illustrator?
A:
I chose to go with Braden because I liked the dynamic movements in his art and his characters’ silly facial expressions. When I saw his art portfolio, I knew right away that I wanted him to bring my book to life. He is such a talented and creative illustrator. Also, I love Star Wars, and when I saw his drawings of Star Wars characters, it was a done deal!

Q: What are your plans as an author?
A:
I am currently working on a picture book biography and a middle-grade novel. I’m going to try to be traditionally published next. We’ll see how it goes!

Q: Who is your female athlete idol?
A: I have several female sports idols. Ayesha McGowan (IG: @ayesuppose) and Brooklyn Bell (IG: @badgal_brooky) are both cyclists who are breaking down huge barriers for women and women of color, which is so inspiring to me. Rebecca Rusch is another idol of mine. She is an incredible cyclist who is doing so much good for the world through her foundation and way of life. Last but not least, Sky Brown. She’s a 12-year-old skateboarder who is fearless and flies up halfpipes! She’s a superhuman kid!

Q: Where can people buy your book, If You Give a Girl a Bike?
A: My book is available in local bookstores and Amazon, but it is preferred if people order it through my website www.hayleydiep.com so that 10% of proceeds can be donated to charities such as the Be Good Foundation and National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA).

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