When Annie answered my call last September, I was struck by her positivity and enthusiasm. It wasn’t quite the tone I expected from a bike racer whose planned break-out season started with fracturing her hand riding home from work.
“I think it could really be a good thing,” she says “I’m going to get some good rest and focused training done now, and start racing later this season. It’ll mean that at the end of the year and at Nationals I’ll still be focused and hungry.”
Based on her athletic history, that hunger never seems to have been in short supply. In college she ran track and cross-country for D1 powerhouse, The University of Oregon. After graduating she jumped into road bike racing and immediately excelled. But balancing those long hours of training and racing with her career was a challenge. Adding kids to the mix was a deal killer.
Then she discovered cyclocross. Like many working racers she appreciated that races lasting only 60 minutes demand less time. Plus, Portland, Oregon’s festival-like ‘cross scene is welcoming for all. With her husband racing in the morning and their children in kiddie races bike racing became a family affair.
Still, Annie’s competitive fire burned bright. Not content to clean house locally, she stepped onto the National circuit.
Photo: Sellewood Cyclery owner and Cyclocross legend Erik Tonkin of Team S&M supports Annie with a quick tune before the Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup.
“At end of the day, my goal is really just to put it all out there,” she says. “If I’m in the top 15 at nationals, I want to be digging just as hard for that 15th place as I would be to win a race at home. It’s not easy, mentally, to be in the pack and still giving everything you have, but that’s what it’s about. I want to measure myself against the best.”
It is a noble goal indeed, and one which we all do well to keep in mind. Rather than settling in our comfort zones, we can always seek out further challenge. For Annie, motherhood fuels that drive. She wants to show her kids the value of pursuing excellence.
With her hand now healed she’s back to doing just that. She nabbed 2nd place at the Oregon State Championships of Cyclocross right out the gates and is on track to crush UCI races for the remainder of the season. Watch for her racing for Team Fast, Fun, Nice. She’ll be making the national rounds with world-renowned Team S&M CX. She’s out there with the “working- class cyclocross racer, reminding us that it’s never too late (or too early) to push ourselves to the next level.
Photographer: Drew Coleman