Liz Sampey – Mountain Biker

Liz Athlete HeadshotIt has been said that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I have been riding bicycles for so long that riding now plays both roles for me: riding IS my comfort, and it is also my way to push past comfort and into challenge.

I started my cycling career as a young girl growing up on a farm in Minnesota. For me, riding my bike symbolized freedom, adventure, and independence as I used it to get out on my own. When I got my first “real” mountain bike in high school it quickly became a passion. At university, I rode nearly every day, but it never occurred to me to try racing. I became focused on backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, and rock climbing. In the mountains I gained valuable mental skills while learning to make smart decisions in serious terrain, and overcoming fear to meet challenges on all levels.

In 2007, I injured my knee and had to take a hiatus from running. A good friend suggested I get a road bike, and the rest is history. I started racing a week after I got my new bike, and though I had no idea what I was doing, I was in love. I raced a few times that year, and the next year I won the state criterium championships as a category 4 racer. I was hooked. I went on to ascend the ranks as a road racer for the next few years, under the direction of an amazing coach, Alison Powers. Alison taught me how to train, how to win, how to present myself as a “professional,” and most importantly- how to be a holistic athlete. She is still my coach to this day, and I can’t thank her enough for her influence in my life.

Liz racingIn 2011, after four years of focusing my energy on road racing, the mountains called to me again. I toed the line of a mountain bike race for the first time, and it was there that I found “home.” Since then, I have raced in nearly all offroad disciplines: cross country, enduro, super downhill, and ultraendurance. I earned my professional license in 2012, and turned my focus to the marathon and ultramarathon events; races over 50 miles. I love these races for the adventure they bring, and for the way they challenge me in all aspects of being an athlete.

I love racing my bike for the amazing friendships I have made through the sport, for the connection I feel with nature when I ride, and for the freedom and adventure it still brings me after all these years. I love to experience the world, and myself, on my bike. I love racing for the personal challenge that it gives me, and the inner and outer strength it has brought to my life.

Most of all, I love racing for the opportunity it gives me to connect with people; to inspire and to be inspired. Riding is a perfect platform for people of any ability to learn about themselves and the world, and to challenge themselves in many ways. It is this human connection we can all share through something as simple as riding a bicycle that inspires me to keep pedaling.

I am incredibly grateful to my sponsors, who support my racing and allow me to live this crazy dream. Heights Performance, ALP Cycles, Griggs Orthopedics, Skratch Labs, Pactimo, Rock n’ Roll Sports, Mad Alchemy, and Mountain Khakis- thanks for the love. It has been an honor to promote such great people.

If you want to check out more stories from the road and lessons learned along the way, check out my website, www.speedy-lizard.com. I would love to connect and share stories, a bike ride, or a beer. Happy trails!