Thursday, August 28, 2008

September's Featured Rider: Anka Martin

Anka Martin is one of gravity racing’s most charming characters. She has a positive outlook on pretty much everything, and it's contagious. If you go on a ride with her, expect an ab workout--you're going to laugh a lot. Anka handles customer service calls and emails for Crank Brothers, which allows her to travel and ride all summer with her husband Sven. She also designs clothing when Bend's trails are snowed in. You may recognize Anka from her recent Blog posts on, as well as her story about her Megavalanche experience.--FF

Name: Anka Martin
Home: Bend, OR and Cape Town, South Africa (when the white stuff gets too deep)
Age: 31 years young
Favorite type of riding: Trail riding, just getting lost in the forest for hours on end.
Why you ride: Freedom and pure happiness
Sponsors: Fluidride, Iron Horse, Fox Racing Shox, Maxxis, Troy Lee Designs, Oakley, Crank Brothers, SDG, Shimano, Sunline

My life used to be consumed by the fashion and advertising world. I got sick of watching Sven skateboard all the time, and of not having a hobby of my own to escape into. So, I bought a GT Zaskar hardtail for cruising the Huntington Beach boardwalk. This was in 1999, and I fell in love with riding the boardwalk. I eventually hit up some dirt trails and was hooked. About a year later, I entered my first cross country race at Big Bear, CA. Then I heard about downhill. Not having a clue what it was all about, I entered the downhill race on my little cross country bike. I ended up winning the beginner class with two over-the-bar crashes. It was out with the high-end world of fashion and in with chamois, knee pads and full-face helmets. I had fallen in love!

I have represented South Africa at the World Championships four times, which was an amazing experience. I did the NORBA points chase for about five years, when they still had like 40 women signed up for downhill! In those years we drove up and down and across the country to attend all the races.

The result that I am most proud of was when I first broke into the top 10 at the 2003 Durango National. I was racing with Missy, Fionn, Tracy Moseley, Leigh, Tai Lee, Tara, Sabrina, Anne-Caro, April, Elke—all the big names. So, it was super hard to get a top 10, and I ended up 9th. I was so stoked!

When I turned 30, I wanted to do something completely different, so I entered the Cape Epic multi-stage race in South Africa. I was getting burned out on the whole chasing-the-points lifestyle. I didn't want to go to the same venue again for the 6th time in a row to ride the same track for a week. I wanted to ride as many places as possible. I enjoy multi-day stage races and will definitively be doing some more of those in the future. I love riding, no matter what bike I am on. As long as I can ride, I'll have a big smile plastered across my face!

When you love riding, you learn things all the time because you spend so much time on your bike. Looking ahead, good braking and cornering techniques, and reading the terrain are some things that I find very valuable. Maxine Irving taught me how to ride a bike, and she used to shout to me to be “LOOSEY GOOSEY” and to “ATTACK THE ROCKS!” To this day, whether I'm just riding along or at some race, her words repeat in my head. Riding with guys and trying to copy them is also a great way to learn to ride your bike better, faster, and with more style. It's all about style, man!

1 comment:

Val said...

Anka, you are awesome! Thanks for the inspiration.