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You’re close with pros like Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer. In fact, you seem tighter with cycling stars than stars here in Hollywood. Why?
We all came from small towns, broke away, and had success in our professions. It’s nice to have that community, that fellowship. I never feel like I totally fit in here. Hollywood is always posturing; it’s a place that doesn’t allow people to open up because others will prey on it. (Read more about Patrick Dempsey’s collaboration with pro Tom Danielson.)
You hang out and train with those guys, and help each other at charitable events. Have you ever seen them race in person?
Yeah, I went to the US Pro Challenge last summer, and I couldn’t get over the pace. I got a much greater appreciation of the beauty of the sport. There’s a poetry in it, when you’re that close to so many competitors and you’re dancing with them.
You already own an auto-racing team. Would you fund a cycling team?
If I were a team owner in cycling, it would be a women’s team. There’s a great story happening and it’s just not being seen. They need bigger sponsorship and more events. And it’s important for women to see other women racing.
You seem pretty serious as a rider—you’re leaner, training with pros, shaving your legs. Do you have goals as a cyclist?
Yes, leg shaving has done wonders for my riding; now that I’m celibate it’s easier to focus on my training plans. Seriously, I want to ride a century; that’s my goal. My longest ride so far is 75 miles.
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You’ve got a lot going on outside your day job. What’s next?
I’d love to open a bike shop in Malibu that’s a hangout for cyclists. There’s nothing like that out here. Tommy, Levi, and I have fantasized about it; I just need to find a space that would allow me to break even. I really want to create some community for local cyclists.
A lot of these projects seem to be about building community—whether it’s for riders or people with cancer. What’s behind that?
Since I was young, I’ve loved belonging to something. You can get that on a bike, especially if you’re riding for a cause. There’s a huge desire for community and purpose—so many people feel alone and isolated. In my case, I need to do something positive with my visibility. Getting involved in cycling and the Dempsey Center was a turning point for me. My life has had more direction after that.