Lincoln mountain biker nearing a shot at the World Cup

WINDHAM, N.Y. — Lincoln resident Alison Zimmer placed second in the downhill race at the Windham U.S. National Mountain Bike Race here on Sunday, almost certainly qualifying her to try out for the 2013 UCI (International Cycling Union) Mountain Bike World Cup — the most elite series of mountain biking competitions in the world.
Just one day earlier she handily won the Super D race, which includes cross-country and uphill stages but does not have a world cup championship.
“It’s really intense to be doing two races on one weekend when most of my competitors on downhill are just doing one … that poses some extra challenges just in the sense of pushing yourself hard and being really exhausted,” 33-year-old Zimmer said on Monday.
“The course was really gnarly in the beginning because it was a lot of really, really deep mud that I could just barely pedal through because it was up to the hubs of the wheel in mud in a couple sections.”
Zimmer, who has no sponsors, has only been mountain biking competitively for three years. On top of weekends filled with races, she holds down a full-time job as a physical therapist at Porter Hospital and she was instrumental in opening a new outpatient rehabilitation clinic at the Bristol Internal Medicine practice last month. She’s also raising her 10-year-old daughter with her husband.
The success Zimmer has seen among pro bikers often a decade younger than her has been unprecedented; she’s won dozens of regional races. Windham was her first national competition.
Competitive mountain biking is divided into four categories: downhill (or gravity), Super D (a blend of downhill and cross country), cross country and endurance. Endurance, which is Zimmer’s specialty, comprises three to five stages that mix downhill, cross country and uphill.
“The idea of an enduro is to get an idea of the best all-mountain rider versus someone that only rides the lifts and only rides downhill,” she said, referring to the method downhill riders ascend the mountains they careen down. “I’m pulled to that because I don’t ride the lifts that often … I like to ride trail and I like to earn my descent by climbing up as well.”
She found out recently she would be eligible to compete with the best enduro racers in the world in the first Enduro World Series race ever held in North America, which she will run the weekend of Aug. 10 in Colorado. Enduro racing has been very popular in Europe, but is just taking hold in the United States.
While waiting for the Enduro World Series, she decided to go to Windham, considered the national championship for downhill mountain biking, to see if she could qualify for the UCI World Cup, which has only a downhill competition.
Zimmer just started riding downhill last year (which uses a completely different bike), but appears to have easily qualified to try out for the World Cup by placing second with a time of 4 minutes, 40.52 seconds — less than four seconds behind the woman’s division winner. If the UCI awards Zimmer 20 points, which they almost certainly will, she will travel to Mount Saint Anne in Canada for the North American leg of the cup (it’s eight races in eight countries) where she will first need to pass qualifications to enter the World Cup races.
Next weekend she will head back to the mountain to complete in the Independence Day E*Thirteen East Coast Showdown at Platehill Bike Park in Roxbury, N.Y., to compete in a downhill, Super D and Enduro race over three days, for which she can win an overall award.
Zimmer is aiming for continued success.
“I’ve been pretty conservative this year with my downhilling. I haven’t pushed really hard because my goal is to get through the season without any injuries,” she said. “And I was really happy with the result (at Windham). I really enjoyed the camaraderie. There were 10 pro women racing, which is a lot for women’s class, and I was just really psyched with my second place finish.”
Writer Luke Whelan is an intern at the Addison Independentthis summer.

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