We catch up with the Dutch girl-wonder
Not heard of Anneka Beerten? Why not? She’s been ripping up the 4X and DH tracks at World Cups for the last couple of seasons now and that’s been rewarded this year with a full factory deal with Specialized. We caught up with the Dutch downhiller to see how she’s getting on…
MBUK: Let’s start with the basics – name, age, where are you from etc?
AB: MY name’s Anneka Beerten, I’m 22 years old and I live in Holland
MBUK: How did you get involved in bike racing?
AB: When I was a little kid, like two years old, I was always riding a little bike around the house and a friend of my father said, “hey, you should take Anneka down to the BMX track”. My Mum and Dad took me there and since then I’ve never stopped riding a bike – ever. Always kept riding my BMX bike and then over to my Mountain Bike.
MBUK: So you started off racing BMX?
AB: Yeah when I was four years old I did my first race.
MBUK: What’s good about BMX if you want to race mountain bikes?
AB: It’s so good for your skills – jumping, riding – especially if like me you race a lot of 4X – they’re quite similar.
MBUK: Is BMX racing still popular in Holland?
AB: Yeah it is, we have a Dutch Federation and they have 14 riders and there are girls as well of course.
MBUK: What’s your garage like at home?
AB: Oh God, my Dad repairs cars but like half the garage is bikes – bikes, tyres, spare parts everything.
MBUK: What bikes do you own?
AB: I have a BMX bike, an XC bike, a road bike, a DH bike a 4X bike and I have a mini-bike, just 50cc.
MBUK: Just a mini-bike, no full on moto-x bike?
AB: No not any more, I had a 125 but I sold it a couple of years ago.
MBUK: So are you good mechanic?
AB: (Laughter from the team manager ensues) Yeah, for the last three years I’ve been working on my own bikes because I didn’t have a mechanic to do it anymore.
MBUK: When did you last get a puncture?
AB: Oh, at Mont St Anne. I don’t fix tubes anymore – just get a new one.
MBUK: Do you have to push yourself everyday you ride or do you go out and just have fun some days?
AB: Yeah, I have a schedule I do every week and I try and get my training done really well but there are some days when you’re like, uggghhh, and I’ll just go and ride my BMX or go to a DH park and try and do some more fun stuff, not only the hard work.
MBUK: Do you have to work out in the gym a lot?
AB: Yeah, I go about three times per week now.
MBUK: And gate practise?
AB: Yeah, since the middle of February, and riding on the BMX courses too.
MBUK: Are there a lot of BMX tracks in Holland?
AB: Yeah, even where I live there’s four tracks within about half an hour, and pretty good ones too.
MBUK: What’s your biggest strength as a racer?
AB: Hmmmmm, I think my technical ability.
MBUK: Are you an athlete or a bike rider?
AB: Athlete I think. It’s such hard work and you live for it. It’s the only thing I do now.
MBUK: Do you ever turn up at a race and get scared by the course?
AB: Yeah! Sometimes, yeah. Not always the whole course but sometimes there are sections in it that are really steep or really technical and the guys are like “woaahh, look at that!” and your like “ohmygod, I have to go down there?” but once you’re on the bike and you did it, sometimes it’s like peanuts, like at 4X courses, like the one at the European champs last year. There was a 50m gap jump and I was walking the course thinking “hell no! I can never do that” and the guys were saying “just think of it as a table top you know” so after all I did and there were only two or three girls who did and you impress yourself you know, you’re like “yeah, I did it!
MBUK: Will there be a time when girls get invites to events like the Red Bull Rampage and the Bike Battle?
AB: I don’t think it will look that good. The Rampage is really extreme – I don’t know if we’d look good on the bike and if that would be good for the sport. We’re able to race on the same courses in DH which is pretty cool because in skiing girls are on separate courses to the men.
MBUK: What would your ideal course look like?
AB: It would be fast and technical with some big jumps – for sure.
MBUK: What are you like at races – do you get stressed and quiet or are you approachable?
AB: Yeah I’m approachable and chilled. Sometimes I get stressed like if I have to work on my own bike or I get a flat or fix part of my bike because you know I’m still gonna do my training and stuff but sometimes you’re just like argghhh!!! I need to fix this now!!!
MBUK: So this year you’re on a full factory deal with Specialized. How is that working out?
AB: Good, I’m happy to be over here (in the UK) – I did my first race last weekend. It’s going to be better because now I’ll have a mechanic and everything’s being taken care of – my travelling and it’s going to be less stressful for me so I can just concentrate on my riding.
MBUK: Do you get to go to all the North American World Cups?
AB: Yeah, I did them last year too. Last year I had a Dutch sponsor as well – I just got bikes from Specialized – so I was able to do the world cups as well.