It was with great excitement and pleasure that I got to interview an outstanding professional mountain biker residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. I started following Hannah Finchamp’s Instagram about four years ago when she was with Clif. The first week I moved to Salt Lake City, about two years ago, I was riding up Millcreek Canyon and saw whom I thought was Hannah Finchamp pass me doing sprints.
As soon as I got home I sent Hannah a message saying, “Did I see you on Millcreek today?” She replied, “Yes that was me.”
I have to admit I was starstruck. Hannah rocks as a cyclist and is a great person too, crushing it on her mountain bike with laughter, smiles, and intensity. Her Instagram shows her having a lot of fun and her always smiling, but do not be fooled! She is out to win and with her new Orange Seal team, nothing is holding her back.
I met up with Hannah at Hangar 15 Bicycles to ask her a few questions.
Anthony Nocella: Hannah to start, I got to ask how did you get involved in mountain biking? Was it through a high school team or local bike shop?
Hannah Finchamp: I started my career in sport at 9 years old in the sport of a triathlon. At a small running race, I saw a booth advertising for triathlon and was enamored by the idea of the challenge. I competed in the sport of triathlon from 9-19 years old and raced in draft legal ITU style races, non-drafting, and even XTERRA Off-Road events.
At the age of 16 I won the XTERRA amateur World Champion title for all ages and shortly after was recruited onto the CLIF Pro Team. A couple of years later, CLIF asked me to make the transition to the sport of mountain biking.
As a part of ‘training’ for triathlon while in high school, I had competed in NICA events. I was competing for my collegiate cycling team as well, so I went ahead and took the leap.
I am now starting my 5th year as a professional mountain biker and am entering my first season representing the Orange Seal Off-Road team. Along with Orange Seal, I am also sponsored by Trek, Sram, Maxxis, Osprey, Gu, and Voler.
AN: We are blessed to live right next to the amazingly beautiful natural Wasatch Mountains, with so many canyons and trails. What are a few of your favorite places to ride and why?
HF: I absolutely love living in Utah and I really believe that it is the best place I could be to accomplish my goals and dreams in the sport of mountain biking. My favorite long ride during the summer is to start up Millcreek Canyon, drop down into Canyons, ride back up Armstrong and Pinecone over the top of the Crest and finish down Pipeline back into town.
Of course, I also love going to Deer Valley and working on my technical skills by riding the lifts!
AN: You are a certified athletic trainer with degrees from Lindenwood University. What are the top training exercises you do beyond cycling?
HF: I have two bachelor degrees from Lindenwood University. One is in Exercise Science and the other is in Athletic Training (which is a health care profession). I am a certified athletic trainer and I have a great passion for balanced and pain-free exercise.
Additionally, I have my own coaching business (www.hannahfinchamp.com/coaching). My coaching philosophy is centered around evidence-based practice and exercise physiology. I seek to use scientific knowledge to cater to the uniqueness of human performance.
I complete a lot of very specific strength and plyometric training in the gym in addition to spending many hours on the bike.
Whether or not you are a competitive athlete, I highly recommend taking time to do a little extra core work (to prevent back pain), completing some weight bearing exercises (to strengthen bones), and working on hip and glute strength to protect your knees and back.
AN: There are more and more conversations being had about our diet and cycling. A lot of athletes are moving to healthier and more plant-based foods. How have you seen your diet change over the years?
HF: Diet can be a tricky question because it is very different for each and every individual. There is no one size fits all formula. For me, I have found that the best way to optimize my performance through diet is by thinking as food as the fuel that gets me through so many hard workouts. It is amazing the amount of food that your body needs in order to complete these physical tasks, so I am often thinking ahead to what demands I will be placing on my body and giving it the energy it needs to accomplish those missions.
AN: In the last ten years, I have really seen bicycle companies marketing more to women, and bike shops having a larger selection of products for women. As an athlete with a strong social media precense, in your opinion what are some recent victories for women cyclists and what would you like to see changed to bring about gender equity?
HF: I am lucky enough to live in a time in sport where many other women have pioneered a way in the industry ahead of me. Women have taken leaps and bounds in the sport, earning equal pay and prize money.
That said, there is always more work to be done. The women’s field is more competitive than it has ever been before and I believe that that alone will continue to garner the respect that we continue to strive for.
I want to be viewed as a successful athlete and not only a ‘female’ athlete.
AN: My final question: What is the best part of being a professional cyclist on the Orange Seal Team and was there any particular races you’re looking forward to?
HF: The Orange Seal Off-Road Team has provided me with an incredible amount of opportunity and I am really excited that the team not only share my same goals and aspirations in sport, but also carries my same values in life. I am very proud to represent a company that puts so much focus on loving others.
This year, I will have the opportunity to represent the team at a wide variety of events including Pro XCT UCI events, World Cups, Epic Rides, Leadville, and even some gravel races.
Hannah Finchamp's bike specs:
- Trek Supercaliber 29 (Size Small)
- RockShox Sid Ultimate Fork
- Sram Level Ultimate Brakes
- Sram XX1 Axs ETap Drivetrain
- Sram XX1 Quarq Powermeter
- Bontrager XXX Carbon Bar and Seatpost
- Bontrager XXX Carbon Wheels
- Maxxis Aspen Tires 29 x 2.25
- Orange Seal Sealant
- ESI Grips
- Instagram: @hannah_finchamp
Anthony J. Nocella II, Ph.D. is a full-time professor at Salt Lake Community College, author of numerous books, trail runner, triathlete, competitive cyclist, and in his free time works at Hangar 15 Bicycles Millcreek.