By Jared Eborn
Anne Perry summed up her 2013 cycling season in two words.
“Amazing,” she said. “Unbelievable.”
That seems fairly accurate for the cyclist who claims that just a few short years ago she didn’t even know that competitive racing had separate categories for racers.
Now, the internal medicine physician from Sandy is a world champion despite admitting to feeling like a novice out on the road at times still learning from each race.
Perry has been riding bikes and even racing for a long time – she’s competed in the Boston Marathon and finished Ironman triathlons – but the world of competitive road cycling is one she didn’t try until a few years ago and she already had crossed the finish line at LOTOJA in the “fun ride” division. A friend recommended she sign up for a bike race and, well, she’s been crushing the competition ever since.
“I had no idea what a category was until 2011,” she said. It’s been eye opening, for sure. Fortunately, I already had a really good base of fitness.”
So, barely two years later, Perry has numerous wins on her record and the biggest came on a stage she didn’t really expect to be on – the Masters World Championships in Italy just a few weeks ago.
“I really wasn’t planning on Worlds,” Perry, who rides locally for the DNA Cycling p/b Plan 7 Coaching team, said. “That was something you have to qualify for and I didn’t race in the only qualifying race in the country. That was back east and I wasn’t able to race that, so I really didn’t expect to be racing at Worlds.”
Her plans changed, however, when she competed in the USA Cycling National Championships and repeated as the Masters 40-44 champion on September 5 in Oregon.
“I was stoked,” Perry said. “But that race wasn’t an automatic qualifier for Worlds. But then a little while later I got a letter that said ‘We would like to invite you to compete in the World Championships.’ It was basically a wild card.”
Some quick scrambling to clear schedules and make travel plans led to Perry hopping on a jet and racing in Italy where she said the course was ideally suited to her strengths.
The hotel she and a few other American racers were staying in was near the finishing climb for the race and she was able to finish virtually every training ride ended with a trip up the final few miles of the course and with valuable familiarity of that road.
“I road to that climb and felt fantastic and said to myself ‘this is going to be good,’ “ she said. “When it came to race day, I felt like the course was perfect for me and I knew exactly how I wanted to race it.”
And so she came home with a rainbow jersey to add to her collection.
Competitive cycling has been a great transition, Perry said. After years of running and multi-sport, she’s not exactly a novice to endurance sports but still feels a bit like a newbie in some of the races she’s entered.
“Honestly, I still feel a little bit unqualified,” she said when asked if she feels like a mentor to some of the younger, but more experienced, racers on her team. “I’m pretty sure I learn as much from them as they do from me. But I feel more comfortable in this role.”
Perry said she has no plans to slow down her racing career and has even made career adjustments to enable it. After her cycling exploded and her weekends became more booked with races, she “changed career paths” from working as a hospitalist to working in a clinic. This enables her to continue serving patients, but also gives her the flexibility to race and train on weekends.
“I still want to race at the top level for a while,” Perry said. “I was hoping at the beginning of the season to maybe get a Top 20 in a (National Racing Calendar) race and I ended up with a Top 15 at the Tour of the Gila and even was on the podium in a couple of races.”
With solid results happening on a frequent basis and a women’s NRC race coming to Utah next year in the Tour de Park City, there’s no reason to think Perry won’t be slipping on more rainbow or stars and stripes jerseys in the years to come.