Former Fort Lewis College student and DEVO super fan Vanessa Hauswald has just completed her first race season as Executive Director of the model high school mountain bike race league in the country, Norcal. Here is what we asked and she answered.
Q: You lived in Durango for some years, what brought you to Durango and why did you leave?
A: I came to Durango to go to school at Fort Lewis College. I had lived in northern California my whole life and wanted to live, learn and play in the mountains.
Q: How did you become the Executive Director for the NorCal League?
A: Well, when I moved to California I learned about the League and thought what they were doing for teenagers was fabulous. I started a high school mountain bike team at the school where I teach, then I joined the NorCal board of directors to get even more involved. 5 years later (in 2010) the position came up and I took a leap of faith and applied: here I am.
Q: What are your roles? Whats the favorite part of your new job thus far?
A: Many! Race organizing, promoting and directing; coach training, certification and management; fundraising, event planning, wilderness first aid training, trail work and trail advocacy, public and media relations management, staff training and management, and much more. My favorite part is definitely riding with the kids, oh, and watching them race is awesome too!
Q: You coached a HS team for some years, What team did you coach and what was a typical practice week like for the kids?
A: I’ve coached the Casa Grande High School MTB Team for four years. It has been my favorite “job” I’ve ever had. Our team practiced twice a week (either on the road or mountain depending on the weather) and then had a spin class on Sunday evenings. We also do a lot of casual weekend rides because I am just as interested in introducing kids to sweet singletrack as I am in helping them to hone their racing techniques.
Q: Where is your favorite riding location in California? Is there any Cali towns that remind you of Durango?
A: I love mountain biking in Tahoe, and of course, anywhere in Sonoma or Marin Counties. Durango is such a unique and amazing spot, I honestly don’t know if there’s any towns here that remind me of it. It’s hard to find a place like Durango with such epic riding, mountaineering, and skiing options in addition to such solid food, art and community.
Q: How did you get into the sport of mountain biking? How about racing?
A: I come from a family of cyclists so I’ve always ridden bikes, but I really learned to mountain bike in Horse Gulch when I was a freshman in college. I didn’t start racing though until I was 25. My brother and friends all did it and they encouraged me to check it out too.