Lincoln rider sets sights on national titles

LINCOLN — After a successful first year of professional mountain bike racing that brought victories in both downhill and enduro categories in 2013, Alison Zimmer of Lincoln is racing well this season and hopes for a smooth ride for the rest of the summer.
Zimmer ended last year — her first back after fracturing both of her arms in 2012 — with strong performances on the national and international stages. In addition to competing at the Mountain Bike World Cup at Mount Saint Anne, Quebec, where she competed against riders from Great Britain and France, Zimmer also won all three stages of the Triple Crown Enduro — the first series of its kind on the East Coast with races at Burke Mountain in Vermont, Mountain Creek in Vernon, N.J., and Highland Bike Park in Northfield, N.H.
While the 2014 race season isn’t as busy as last year, Zimmer has not been without success. She said she originally intended for this season to be less downhill riding and more focused on the enduro side of her competition — the latter of which includes more climbing sections. But after two strong downhill performances at the Mountain Creek Spring Classic in New Jersey and the Eastern States Cup Atlantic Downhill Race in Plattekill, N.Y., Zimmer decided to see how far (and fast) she could go.
“I was doing really well and I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could go after the title,’” she said. “That would be awesome.”
In pursuit of that goal, Zimmer traveled with a teammate on a two-week trip to Beech Mountain, N.C., and Snowshoe Mountain, W. Va., where she competed in two more stops on the 2014 Professional Mountain Bike Gravity Tour. the Pro GRT, as it is known, is the most prestigious downhill gravity riding series organized by USA Cycling. After winning at Beech Mountain and tying for first at Snowshoe, Zimmer leads the professional women’s division by almost 30 points over the next rider in the series.
Zimmer has also achieved success at home. Over the Fourth of July weekend, she won a three-race series at Killington in Enduro, Downhill and Super D divisions. 
“It was a really beautiful weekend,” she said of the race series. “It was really fun to be on the race course and to have my husband (Dan) with me.”
Zimmer competes as a member of Vermont Gravity Racing, the official team of Mountain Bike Vermont, an online multimedia site and advocacy group for all things mountain biking in the Green Mountain State. Zimmer’s other sponsors are widely known Vermont companies including the Champlain Valley Apiary, the Alchemist Brewery, TreTap Beverages, Green Mountain Bikes, Sugarbush Resort and the Middlebury Bike Center.
This past weekend, Zimmer was due in Quebec to compete at the UCI Downhill World Cup at Mont Saint Anne. This coming week she competes in another stop at Windham Mountain in Windham, N.Y. Zimmer plans to round out her downhill riding season with the final stop in the Pro GRT series in September at the Kamikaze Bike Games at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where her goal is to claim the series title.
For the enduro side of her riding, Zimmer plans to compete in the Triple Crown Enduro Series, a three stop series of races in New Hampshire, New Jersey and ending at Q Burke in East Burke, Vt.
After last year’s success with regional races, Zimmer said she never intended to follow her racing as far as North Carolina or West Virginia. Traveling and competing are difficult to juggle with her other commitments as a mother and a physical therapist.
“I’m a mom and a professional and I have gardens and a house to take care of,” she said. “It’s hugely challenging to try and fit everything in to do it.”
Zimmer, 34, said she expects this will be the last year she competes in the downhill racing, choosing to focus instead on enduro.
“Part of the reason I really focused on downhilling was to improve my enduro skills,” she explained. “I’m a really good climber and I’ve got a lot of stamina, but because I haven’t been downhilling for very long I wanted to build on that skill.”
Zimmer said she’s unsure how much competing she’ll do next year as she is also considering working as a physical therapist or a trainer for professional mountain bikers. She also has plans to open her own physical therapy practice in the fall. Her practice, titled “Synergy In Motion,” will be based out of her home and will also make house calls. 
However, she said she’s proud of her accomplishments in a relatively short period of time.
“I thought that if I could go for the overall title in my last year and only my third year racing downhill ever, then that would be pretty phenomenal,” she said.  

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