Thursday, July 31, 2008

August's Featured Rider: Neven Steinmetz

Neven Steinmetz is one of the USA's few dedicated mountaincross racers. She has been to the World Championships twice and regularly competes at World Cup events. While her riding is impressive, her time spent off the bike is even more incredible. Neven is currently working on her PhD in Tissue Engineering at the University of Colorado. In addition, she's campaigning to become an athlete representative to USA Cycling for gravity sports. Luckily, Neven is sponsored by a coffee shop, because we’re not sure that she has time to sleep.--FF

Name: Neven Steinmetz
Home: Boulder, CO
Age: 31 (But seem to think I'm about 23)
Favorite type of riding: Racing mountaincross and dirt jumping
Why you ride: The challenge and the cool people
Sponsors: Yeti, Hayes, Maxxis, DT Swiss, ODI, e.13, Fox Racing, Smith, Nema, Totally Wired Cyclery, Rocky Mountain Roastery

I started out racing cross country. I quickly learned that my skills were much better served descending rather than climbing. After running my fully-rigid Trek 820 into the garage (it was on the top of my car), I decided I needed a full suspension bike to replace it. I got a Yeti ASX and headed out to Angel Fire, NM for my first downhill race. At registration, I was asked if I wanted to sign up for mountaincross in addition to downhill. I asked what mountaincross was, and was told, "It's free." That didn't really explain what it was to me, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I did the race on my cross country bike and took a huge crash, but I ended up doing pretty well and I was hooked.

I really enjoy riding and racing downhill, but mountaincross is definitely my passion. I love the head-to-head competition. And I really love the feeling of putting together a run that has sprinting, jumping, manualing, and cornering all packed into 30-45 seconds. There's no room for making a single mistake.

When I'm not working on my PhD, you can find me riding at our local dirt jumps or at the BMX track. The two things that I have worked hardest on to become successful at mountaincross racing are power out of the start gate (lots of lifting in the gym) and dirt jumping. Next on the list, though, is definitely improving my cornering!

I turned pro 3 years ago and decided my goal was to make the US team for the World Championships. Last year, I was able to attain that goal and joined the US team in Fort William, Scotland. There were 45,000 people there watching mountaincross, including some who had climbed trees to be able to see! We raced under the lights, and it was live on the BBC. This was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life! (Neven also raced mountaincross at Worlds in Italy this year!-FF)

I ride and race because I love the rush of the adrenaline, but also because I have made the most amazing friends and visited some amazing places over the past 6 years of racing. People who ride bikes are often very passionate, and I enjoy spending time with passionate people!

No comments: