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Hangin’ with Anneke ahead of the first women shred!

Hard-charging Dutch transplant Anneke Beerten (36) has never been afraid to try something new. Her illustrious career saw her grab world titles in BMX and 4X, podium in the Enduro World Series and claim the Queen of Crankworx title. She also just crushed it at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. A badass on the bike, Anneke is laidback off the bike and always keen to share her passion for mountainbiking. We caught up with her before her visit to the inaugural women shred Festival in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Admittedly the added workload that comes with running your own team, like Beerten does this season, is often underestimated. However Anneke pulls it off with a smile and rode her Specialized to a blistering start in 2019. She’s currently second in the Queen of Crankworx standings and won the Sea Otter Classic enduro.

You must be pumped on how things are going this season?  
Anneke Beerten: 
“I am! I’m concentrating on Crankworx, one-off Enduro World Series and California Enduro Series events that I like to do and in general sharing the stoke about riding bikes. That’s through stuff like school visits, coaching women and kids, meeting fans and putting out my own content. It’s a lot of work, especially because I have to do everything myself with regards to my racing -from logistics to maintenance and dealing with sponsors- but my calendar is more about quality than quantity these days. I love how it has worked out so far!”

It’s crazy how you’ve went from one form of racing to the other with so much success. Starting all over each time must be tough? Beerten: “I like challenges. Nothing pushes you like diving into something new, that’s also where it really helps to have good people around you. For sure my training has changed quite drastically over the years. And switching from something as explosive as 4X to the Enduro World Series was huge. It’s like going from one extreme to the other! But I always liked road cycling so the endurance training was never a bore for me. There’s a lot of variety in a my current typical training week as well. Gym work in the morning a few days a week, two endurance rides on the road bike, mountainbike riding, pump track and BMX, even some motocross riding once a week.”


You have an amazing ability on the bike, combining loads of experience with great versatility. Some elite riders might neglect the obstacles beginners or weekend warriors encounter. Does it take a conscious effort to explain stuff when you’re hosting a clinic?
“Not for me. It goes automatically, I try to imagine what the other person needs to do or know to improve from their current level. It would be the same if you place me in a NASCAR race car! What are the logical next steps to get better? With the gestures I use and the skills I explain I adapt to the group that’s in front of me. It’s never about me showing how good I am on the bike! Kids are very inspiring to teach because they’re so fast to pick things up… and they’re fearless. So you got to keep that in mind as well! With a group of ladies it’s very different because they might have doubts or have a whole lot of questions before trying something.”

Your accolades are pretty impressive though, some people might be intimidated when meeting someone they’re looking up to. Or you might be a role model for them.
“There’s no need to be intimidated at all. I’m just a regular person and they can talk to me like they would to anyone else! The best thing I can do as a role model is just to be me you know. Social media is important for professional athletes these days, we're expected to act in a certain way. It takes a lot of our time (to manage social media) and so much is about likes and followers but I think it’s important that I’m always myself. I believe that you should dream big and if you work hard you can make your dreams come true!”

Who were your cycling heroes when growing up?
“Girls like Anne-Caroline Chausson and Missy Giove come to mind. Very different personalities but amazing riders!

You’re originally from Holland, one of the most cycling-mad countries in the world, where you grew up doing laps around the house as a toddler. What do you think of the cycling culture in the US?
“I’m living in California now and the riding is great here so I’m definitely not missing the flat Dutch countryside when it comes to riding! When I was 16 I started to race mountainbikes and it’s been fantastic to see how the sport has grown. Both in Europe and the US things are heading in the right direction: more riders, more events, amazing bikeparks, better bikes and equipment…”

The OZ Trails in Northwest Arkansas are pretty amazing. Have you ever been there?
“No I haven’t. But I have heard so many rave reviews about riders who have visited the area. Just seeing videos and pictures of that area I have to say it looks super cool. It seems that people are really embracing mountainbiking over there. To see that passion is awesome so I’m really looking forward to going there and riding myself during women shred!”


How do you see the state of professional mountainbiking and cycling for women?
“It’s getting better and better. For sure equal prize money has been a super positive step. Of course Crankworx made a big push to treat riders equally. In road cycling things are looking up as well, with women riding the same races on the same dates and more media exposure. When it comes to competition the evolution is mindblowing: bigger entry lists with really stacked fields. Whether it’s downhill or enduro, the level of the girls is insane these days. Girls are sending it, that’s rad to see!”

If you’re away from the bike because of an injury or illness like you had to endure in 2016/2017 it must feel like you’re missing a body part!
“That’s true. It’s funny how much you’re thinking about cycling even when you’re not able to get on your bike. Dealing with the virus was the hardest because there was literally nothing I could do. And when I tried some kind of physical activity I even suffered heart rhythm issues so I just had to rest and be patient.” 

That’s a kind of setback that changes your outlook on life?
 “It is. It also made me realise how demanding race weekends are. Physically and mentally. Especially where you’re combining different events. And you have to deal with sponsorship obligations at the same time. As a result I learned to deal with training and stress in a different way. You can grind hard all you want but recovery matters just as much. I learned to listen to my body even better and that’s also the reason why I’m taking off more time in between races now.”

What would Anneke Beerten do if she was not riding her bike for a living?
“Work in a shop like I did before I guess! Until I turned pro when I was 22 I worked in a record store. I did that for five years. I feel super blessed to do what I do and what I have been able to achieve.”

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We’re super excited to have you on board for women shred!
“You’re welcome. I’m stoked to go to Arkansas, finally ride the OZ Trails and connect with all the female shredders and the amazing pro riders like Caroline Buchanan and Lael Wilcox. I think the women shred program looks great, Kenny Belaey and his wife have shown before that they’re able to put together great events so it’s going to be a thrill to attend the first edition!”

Images: Sarah Viggers

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