Elle Anderson is no stranger to bike racing. The 28 year old Vermont native has spent time in Belgium, raced for US based programs and now returns to professional cyclocross with her own program. She talks about her lead up to the season, her time working remotely for Strava and what has her fired up. Where are you now and how are the final weeks of cross prep going?
In Stowe, VT spending time with my family, racing gravel races, building a CX course in my backyard, eating home-cooked food.
Why did you decide to build your own cyclocross program this year? Your team last year was a bit of your own creation as well, what’s different this time?
I’m committed to Euro scene, not the US scene, which makes it hard to find a place on a US team. In Europe, there are limited opportunities with women's cyclocross programs. So instead, it’s a great opportunity to be able to work directly with sponsors like SRAM, Velocio and Roti Cycling Services. USAC helped a lot last year, but that’s not the case this year so I had a lot of new challenges to overcome. But I also had the whole spring and summer to work on it. So I iterated on what I liked about my situation last year, and came up with Elle Anderson Racing.
Walk us through the last few weeks of your prep:
Flights, AirBNBs, rental cars, mechanics, licenses, logistics, equipment management, working with sponsors. Building and prepping all equipment with Roti Cycling Services. That’s been the bulk of it. Also, I’ve moved out of my room in Oakalnd, California and put my stuff in storage for the winter. I'll spend the next 6 months on the road working for Strava remotely.
What makes it hard for you to go this route, what sets your type of program apart from other teams?
Hardest part is the pressure I put on myself to make everything perfect. At the end of the day, I’m responsible for not only getting to the start line but making sure I’m perfectly equipped, prepared and have the support needed to perform when the whistle blows. It’s hard for me to represent myself and ask for equipment and support. I’m just not good at it, and a lot of times feel like I don’t deserve it! The little bumps and challenges encountered along the way, during the process of organizing the program, can feel like the end of the world if I’m not careful and don’t maintain perspective. I’m always aware of the pitfalls and hardships from some of my previous seasons in Europe, so that perspective is key.
I’m sure there are moments when you wonder why you chose this route, and when the responsibilities and pressure feels burdensome. But I’m sure there are great moments as well. What are the things, or moments, when you feel that all your work is worth it?
I remember past teams, like CalGiant/Specialized, or the Belgian team I raced for in 2014. There are a different set of challenges and stressors in those environments too. I like being able to choose the equipment I use and build my own relationships with the great people in the cycling industry. I like choosing the people I get to work with, like Oscar from Roti Cycling Services and Brad from Velocio. Having control over my schedule, and the logistics, is great. As hard as it is to manage my own program, each hardship can be rewritten as a reward, or a success, and that’s what keeps me sane.
Everyone is excited about the imminent cyclocross season. What gets you the most jazzed?
Just letting go and racing my bike! At the end of the day, it is more work and much more responsibility and stress to build my own program. But that’s just the small details. What stays the same year after year is the racing. There will always be a start line, and there will always be competition.