RICHMOND, Va. -- Born in England and raised in countries like Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Sweden, Emma Langley lived a somewhat transient childhood. When her family moved to the United States during her middle school years, Langley's upbringing lent itself to more solitary sports.
A swimmer at first, Langley was competing in triathlons by the time she was in high school.
Three disciplines are not for everyone and Langley soon discovered she had a favorite, cycling.
"I loved how much further you could go on a bike," Langley said. "Sure, on a run you could see a couple of miles of a place. But on a bike? You can go 50 or 100 miles."
Langley studied Kinesiology at William and Mary. She chose the Williamsburg college for its size and its cycling club.
The club was the impetus she needed to focus on cycling as her primary sport.
She performed well enough locally and regionally to begin pitching herself to professional cycling teams in the same way any prospective employee goes searching for a job.
"Despite being new, I showed a bit of raw talent, and then also a lot of enthusiasm and room for development," he said. "If you're coming in and saying I've already done all of this and already covered every inch and this is where I'm at, then maybe that shows a little less potential in some ways."
She eventually latched on with EF Education TIBCO SVB, a team based in California. And it didn't hurt that she had traveled to the national cycling championships as an unaffiliated solo rider and finished 7th all by herself.
"You have to take a chance, you have to put yourself out there," she said. "You have to show up to the races and essentially not be afraid of failure. Some races you go to and things don't go your way. Some you go to and some maybe you even win."
And win she did.
In 2022, with her new team and teammates, Langley brought home the USA Cycling Women's road race national championship.
She crossed the finish line in Knoxville, Tennessee not exactly sure of what she had just accomplished.
"I truly mean it when I say any of us could have won," she said. "We were a super strong squad. We went into the race just wanting one of us to win."
There is no telling how much further the sport might take her.
World caliber women's cyclists are racing well into their 30s, which gives Langley at least another decade to be competitive, provided she follows the advice that she gives all females considering watching the world from the seat of a bike.
"You can't go out for multiple hours a day on your bike if you don't have a passion for it. Protect and cultivate that passion and then work hard too. So much of your destiny is up to you," she said. "
"Follow that passion, whatever that sport or calling is and it will pay off."
And as is the case with most endurance athletes, doing the same thing for hours at a time will lead the mind to wander. Langley's strangest thoughts have centered around the weirdest things that she would consider eating.
"Sometimes when you're just absolutely cracked and you've been out there for five or six hours already, anything sounds good," she said. "I think the weirdest thing that I've actually thought about is pizza with ice cream on top of it. Eating it at the same time."
Langley spent the summer in Europe as members of her team took part in the Women's Tour de France. She raced some smaller events through the Pyrenees and in Belgium.
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