Downhill mountain biker Miranda Miller began her first senior professional season by winning the opening Fluidride Cup race in Port Angeles, Washington on April 5.
Miller, 19, finished ahead of Whistler’s Katie Holden and North Vancouver’s Danice Uyesugi with a time of three minutes and 14 seconds to get a good start on the small American race series while preparing for a big season that includes Canada Cup and World Cup races.
The course was fast and required good endurance, she said. It wasn’t very technical but it required strong pedaling, which she has been working hard to improve.
“I’ve gotten quite a bit better and out of every corner I’m taking a pedal stroke,” she said.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve got a new bike and everything and I feel my riding is pretty solid for the beginning of the season.”
Miller attracted sponsorship attention after placing fourth at the Junior World Championships in Italy last year. Santa Cruz supplied her with a new V10 frame and Squamish Savings is contributing $15,000 over three years through the Growing Champions program. Local clothing company Dincus Apparel, BC Cycling, Team Squamish and Mad March Racing are also supporters.
“That’s pretty cool. It’s always been self-funded and mostly still is but that really helps,” she said.
The 2009 season is jam-packed with races, and that means full of expenses. Miller is competing in the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California this weekend. Last year she placed 14th in the Pro Female category.
She will be away for the month of May, busy competing in her first European World Cups in France and Andorra before racing her first U.S. Open in New York.
Miller said she is taking her first elite season in stride.
“I’m pretty much the youngest elite rider so I’m trying to be realistic with my 2009 goals. I don’t want to be unrealistic, but I still want to feel I’m moving ahead and achieving,” she said.
Coach Shaums March said Miller is coming into her own and has worked extremely hard to develop a personal riding style out of her natural talents. The intense traveling will certainly be a test for her as she’ll have more than just competing on her mind. Something as common as keeping up a nutritious diet in foreign countries becomes a challenge, but March is confident Miller will be adequately prepared.
“Miranda has had a lot of help and is doing really good right now with her training and she’s really independent. It doesn’t take other people to motivate her,” he said, before setting off on a ride with Miller.
“Riding with her and talking to her, I can tell she’s on her game.”