Opening Minds and Doors on Mountain Bikes

April 13, 2021

Whether it was unsuspectedly following a downhill racer boyfriend, an impromptu purchase, bombing down trails on a hybrid, or hitting that first big drop, PEARL iZUMi riders, Brooke Goudy, Annijke Wade, Korey Hopkins, and Alex McAndrew each got hooked on mountain biking in their own way. Today, it’s easy to feel just as stoked as they are while listening to them talk about upcoming adventures and race agendas for 2021. Yet for these athletes, it’s not just about the next best ride or podiums. They’re also on a mission to make an impact in their community and the broader cycling world through their advocacy work and by inspiring the next generation of riders and industry leaders who will propel the sport forward in the years to come.

Annijke Wade riding the drops at the Trek Dirt Series Gravity Camp at Angel Fire in New Mexico in September 2019.

Getting Started

Riding was something Brooke Goudy did a lot of as a kid, getting her first bike from her father who she says, “painted it pink, put sparkles on it, and lubed up the chain for me. I rode it everywhere.” She was eventually reintroduced to riding after moving to Denver, having to commute back and forth to work. Thankfully, a road bike, “maybe a couple of beers” and time spent exploring helped her regain that sense of adventure she discovered as a kid. It was her first taste of mountain biking that took things to another level.

“I was hesitant at first,” Goudy says, “but that first ride was so much fun! But because my boyfriend at the time raced downhill, it was more about putting me on the trail and saying, “follow me.” I did some pretty gnarly stuff that a beginner wouldn’t normally do.”

By the end of her second season, Goudy had already been to the French Alps to do some downhilling and completed the 36.2-mile Monarch Crest Trail in Colorado.

Korey Hopkins started riding after picking up a hybrid in college to get around campus. Following graduation, Hopkins began road racing motorcycles while also looking for other ways to be active. After a few months on a road bike and spending time online in cycling forums, he stumbled upon mountain biking and a nearby trail network.

“I took that same hybrid I had in college out on the trails,” Hopkins remembers. “I attacked it like an overconfident 23-year-old and crashed my brains out more times than I could count. I sold the hybrid and found a used hardtail that same day. I was addicted.”

For Annijke Wade, her journey began with a work email asking if anyone wanted to join a mountain biking club. She’d already been looking for something faster-paced than hiking while she explored New Mexico, so, the next day she went online and bought a bike. She never did ride with the club, however.

“I ended up riding by myself, got super hooked, and started riding every day.”

Two months and one clinic later, Wade flew out to Utah for a work trip with her bike and went riding in Park City with a friend. “At that moment, I knew this downhill stuff was really exciting.”

Alex McAndrew racing downhill early in his riding days.
Brooke Goudy has taken to enduro racing these days.

Alex McAndrew’s first bike was a 24-inch Nishiki Hill Raiser that he’d ride around checking out local farm equipment. It didn’t take long for him to go “full nerd” about mountain biking as he claims, thanks to a “Keep It Real” VHS tape and paging through various riding magazines early on to learn everything he could. Talk to him now and he still remembers that first drop.

“I still remember hitting that thing,” McAndrew says, chuckling. “I did three in a row actually and after that, I was done with all other sports. It was all about riding at that point.”

At 19, in between his freshman and sophomore year in college, McAndrew competed at his first downhill at Attitash in New Hampshire. Riders were “really cool, taking me around, showing me how to practice and walk the course,” and he ended up taking second in beginners. It was the 2011 US Collegiate National Championships that really stoked the fire for McAndrew, though. He took the Division II title and beat out Joey Schusler of Yeti by 12 seconds for the Division I win that year in Angel Fire, New Mexico. Five years later, he was at his first World Cup in Austria and by 2018, came within six seconds of the top 60 riders. After a 2019 win to finish off the Eastern States Cup Downhill Series, he’s now signed up for EWS races this year, looking to finish in the top 20.

Alex and his wife, Ella, find their way to the podium often.
Korey working some slow tech in his backyard trails.

New Goals & Challenges

“I still do downhill, but I love enduro. You’re on the clock riding with your buddies all day on Saturday, and again on Sunday. I love the consistency over a whole day, not just putting it all on the line for one run.”

“Enduro is my jam!” Hopkins says. “I got into EWS Aspen on the lottery a few years ago and survived four days on the bike. That was a bit of a YOLO moment for me at the time, but it forced me out of my comfort zone. Since then, I’ve managed to grow and podium a number of regional races and just generally do better.”

He has big plans for 2021, too, hoping to jump up the higher ranks and “get back to scratching that racing itch,” depending on what things look like with the pandemic still looming.

For Wade, the thought of racing came after that initial skills clinic – the VIDA MTB Series in Durango. She’d fallen in love with the technical aspects of biking, which essentially drove her to take things even more seriously. So, her attention turned to the Sea Otter Classic in 2020, which was later canceled due to COVID.

“So, then I signed up for the two-day backcountry Revolution Enduro in Steamboat Springs. I didn’t do the greatest, but I finished, and it was super fun even though it was two of the most challenging days of my life. And that’s why I want to continue racing. I’d never been pushed that far before.”

Consequently, Wade is prepping harder in 2021. She’ll be racing gravel, enduro and downhill, an agenda that will include the FoCo Fondo and SBT GRVL, two enduros, and some downhills sometime in the summer.

Like her fellow PEARL iZUMi crew members, Goudy is charging into competitive racing this year, her first time on the scene. But before any of her other races take place in July and August, Goudy will be attempting the 2,745-mile Tour Divide in June. The idea was presented to her by a mentor, at which point she thought “no freakin’ way!” As time passed, however, she revisited the idea thinking not only of it being a great feat but how cool it’d be to have representation on that trail.

Annijke riding her first day of downhill at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah on August 2019.
Brooke armored up and all smiles.

Representing a Stronger Cycling Community

“I think people believe you have to be this athlete who is in movies or on podiums to do something badass. I like that I’m a person with a full-time job, doing advocacy work, and a no-name. I want people to see me out there challenging myself so they can see themselves represented, too.”

Representing, advocacy work, and mentoring is something all four riders have in common. Each understands the value in inspiring more people to ride no matter who they are or where they come from, while also creating a safe space for newcomers.

McAndrew approaches mentorship the same way he’s been doing since college, by showing kids the benefits of riding bikes outdoors. He started doing so at an alternative summer camp for kids having problems at home, essentially helping them to discover something other than the often troubling situation they knew. Today, with his wife Ella, who is also quite the badass on two-wheels, they coach young up-and-comers through Vermont Mountain Bike Tours.

“Out here, we really want to inspire people to get outside and experience the world firsthand,” McAndrew says. “Phones have changed the way we interact with the world and others, and MTB is a great way to bring youth from all walks of life together, to reconnect with the Earth, and do it in a cool and thrilling way.”

Korey racing enduro when he’s not shooting photos and videos or helping local high school racers.
Alex, racing in late 2019, also works on the bike to encourage and coach younger riders.
Annijke on a ride at the Dale Ball Trail System near Santa Fe, New Mexico, on her second bike ever!

In Hopkins’s case, last year he got involved with the Maryland Interscholastic Cycling League to become a coach. He’s also found an avenue for his photography skills, using them on social media to post about his life on bikes, both the good – hitting a gnarly feature – and the bad – breaking a part – “just to normalize seeing someone who looks like me in this space.” It’s something Hopkins doesn’t believe most media outlets do well.

“It is so much easier to get people to consider something when they see themselves in it. I think some companies in the industry have realized this and have made an honest effort to do better. So, being on the PEARL iZUMi team is really exciting because they’re using their platform for various storytelling opportunities, which is something that was of interest to me.”

Wade’s involvement in advocacy work comes from the challenges she’s experienced in the outdoor world, which can often mirror what’s happening in the workplace, or by just being a Black woman in America. She’s involved with Ride for Racial Justice who is sponsoring 25 BIPOC riders during the SBT GRVL this year. Also, she’s now an ambassador for VIDA MTB Series and working on their Impact Committee, helping to create a safe place for women and all BIPOC women in mountain biking.

Like Hopkins, she sees an opportunity in cycling to increase representation, both in marketing and the competitive arenas, and that’s a driver for her when it comes to partnerships.

“I’d like for new riders to say, “Hey, look! There are five people who look like me and they’re all doing really cool things.” So, for me, my affiliation with PEARL iZUMi is exciting because while they focus on sustainability and environmental issues, they’re also creating a more diverse setting with the group of athletes they partner with.”

Alex, second from left, and other Team USA riders in Europe for some racing.
Brooke now is a fixture at clinics for BIPOC and women riders.

Goudy’s opportunity to make an impact began while looking for other women of color to ride with, someone with similar lived experiences as herself. After linking up with the Black Girls Do Bike Denver chapter, she realized she had a lot to offer and began holding beginner rides. Goudy is now a volunteer leader.

She’s also an ambassador for VIDA, becoming a founding member of the Impact Committee she and Wade both sit on. Through that partnership, Goudy addressed a noticeable desire for her group of riders to learn mountain biking by bringing VIDA clinics to Denver. At the same time, she became a leader in the community, something she knew was truly needed.

“It’s important that our community see Black women as leaders, as coaches, putting on these big events, and sitting at the table. And that’s what I love about PEARL iZUMi, too. I get the opportunity to be a representative of the company and bring along my friends to really influence what direction the company goes in. It may be on a small level, but I’ll use whatever level of influence I do have.”

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