By day she is a junior high school biology teacher and mother of three young boys. By morning, she is an avid cycler, logging hundreds of miles per week on the roads of south Utah County. But, by August, she will be competing at the UCI Grand World Cycling Championships in Glasgow Scotland.
35-year-old Stephanie Anderson of Salem recently competed in the Cheaha Challenge in Jacksonville, Alabama, which was a 100-mile cycling race that climbed a total of 9,000 feet of elevation. When all was said and done, Anderson finished in second place, securing her spot to represent Team USA at the World Championships on Aug. 4 in Scotland.
According to Anderson, cycling is a somewhat newer endeavor that she reluctantly started doing about 10 years ago.
“I used to be a runner and I had some pretty extensive work done on both of my knees and after physical therapy, they just weren’t performing the way that I wanted them to,” Anderson recalled. “One day when I was experiencing a lot of pain, my husband went out and bought me a bike and was like, ‘You’re gonna bike now!’ and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna bike; that’s not what I want to do; I want to run.’ He said, ‘No, no. You’re going to bike and you’re going to love it!’
Anderson described being extremely upset when she went for the first ride, but said that she ended up loving it by the end of the ride.
“I was just all smiles from that first day, I’ve just been riding since!” she said.
Anderson said that the road (both literal and figurative) hasn’t been easy, but she wants to show her children and students that you can still reach new goals in new things as you get older.
“There are a lot of super early mornings, and when I’m saying super early, I’m not kidding,” she said. “I get up at 3 a.m. so that I can get my ride in because I know that the rest of the day is going to be full of teaching, planning and grading and everything. And then I’ve got my kids and their schedules and then we’ve got to somehow fit my husband’s golf hobby in there as well. So, yeah, there are just really early mornings to balance it all out.
“I think it’s also important for us parents to have our hobbies and explore those,” she continued. “I think it’s important for our kids to know that ambition doesn’t have to die and that they too can have goals and dreams and ambitions and I don’t have to live vicariously through them – like this is my thing that I can be proud of. This is what mom does and that is what you do, and you too can dream big, too! I also want the same for my students.”
Anderson said that there are times when you plan things out and they don’t always work out the way you want them to, but that it is all part of the journey.
“Sometimes disappointment comes and it’s OK; I think that’s just part of life,” she said. “Sometimes you train really hard and you dedicate that time and you just hope and pray that that dedication and time was enough. In this case, it happened to pay off. Whether it was the training and dedication or luck or a little bit of both, it’s kind of cool to see it all come together.”
And it sure did come together nicely and just in time for summer training that this teacher will no doubt be taking full advantage of.
On behalf of the community, we congratulate Anderson on her accomplishment and wish her luck at the World Championships.