Interview and photos by Beau Gaughran
Bellingham mountain bike racer Hannah Bergemann graduated from the expert to pro category last year and she’s been placing near the top at Cascadia Dirt Cup enduro races ever since, all while juggling school and a job at the Kona Bike Shop. The 21-year-old up-and-comer talks about her career, the women’s mountain bike scene and finishing on the podium in pro races a few years after getting started on a hand-me-down bike from her dad.
Mount Baker Experience: How did you get into mountain biking?
Hannah Bergemann: I grew up biking with my dad in Hood River, Oregon, and got into mountain biking as a junior in high school when he gave me his old full suspension bike. I was hooked after a few rides and at the end of that summer we did an enduro race together in Ashland, Oregon. When I moved up to Bellingham for school in 2015, I became even more involved in the mountain bike community and started working and riding bikes for Kona shortly after.
MBE: What’s a typical day like for you?
HB: On a typical day I’ll get up around 5:30 a.m. and head to Terrain Gym or go out for a bike ride. After that, during the school year, I’ll head to school for the day and then work at the Kona Bike Shop in the afternoon. In the summer, I work full time at Kona fixing bikes, selling bikes, and helping with daily bike shop duties. After work, sometimes another bike ride is in the cards or in the school year I’ll be studying into the evening.
On days off, I like to ride my bike up in Canada with friends, or I’ll be traveling for races somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
MBE: How has working at Kona influenced your riding?
HB: Since I started working in the shop, I’ve become more active in our mountain bike community. I’ve been able to ride and race some amazing bikes and I’ve learned how to fix and maintain my bikes to keep them running smooth. The Kona crew has always been and continues to be very supportive of me as a rider and racer and has given me an amazing platform to progress my riding and share my passion for bikes.
MBE: Do you have a favorite race from this year so far?
HB: The Chuckanut and Post Canyon enduros were so much fun, being my two “home” races. I think my favorite was the Silver Mountain Enduro in Kellogg, Idaho. It was the biggest race I’ve done so far with 9,000 feet of climbing and more than 16,000 feet of descending over two days, and I surprised myself with a second place finish in a pretty large field of pro ladies.
MBE: Who do you like to ride with and why?
HB: One of my favorite things about Bellingham is the incredible mountain bike community. There is never a shortage of amazing people to ride with. People who will push the limits on what you think is possible on mountain bikes and who will push you to progress and try new things. I love riding with all the lady rippers in the area and the other gals on the Kona Supremes.
MBE: What’s the Kona Supremes?
HB: The Kona Supremes is a women’s ambassador team with Kona that was the brainchild of my friend Amanda Bryan. We started the team almost two years ago, bringing on some local ladies that we rode with and who wanted to be more involved in the community. The first summer, we all raced the Cascadia Dirt Cup enduro series together and made a presence at several events and races in the Pacific Northwest.
This year, we put more focus into hosting our own events and clinics, with several of the events geared towards getting more women into bikes. Some events we’ve hosted recently include bike maintenance workshops, women’s mountain bike group rides and an overnight bike-packing trip!
The lady scene is really strong here and continues to grow each year! I am lucky to get to ride regularly with tons of badass ladies
MBE: How’s the lady mountain bike scene in Bellingham?
HB: The lady scene is really strong here and continues to grow each year! I am lucky to get to ride regularly with tons of badass ladies, and I hope we can be role models for young shredders to pursue mountain biking as well.
MBE: What’s your favorite bike right now?
HB: I’ve been riding the 2018 Kona Process 153 for the last year and it’s such a fun bike! It suits my riding style and the steep, technical terrain I like to ride.
MBE: Do you train?
HB: I train in the gym three or four days per week, focusing on strength to improve my riding and to help keep me healthy when I take a slam. I also ride my bike most days during the week, at least for a quick ride before or after work.
MBE: Favorite place to ride?
HB: Besides Bellingham, I love riding up in BC. Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler are some of my favorites towns and every time I go my list of favorite trails grows longer.
MBE: Why Bellingham?
HB: I originally moved here to attend school at Western Washington University and I’ll be graduating in the winter with a degree in kinesiology, but I don’t plan to leave anytime soon after I graduate. The community here is something special, with exceptional trails and people who are passionate about growing and progressing the sport. The access to amazing trail systems right in town is easy to take for granted and other incredible riding areas are within a few hours.
Beau Gaughran is a Bellingham-based freelance photographer from Maine. He moved here for the incredible whitewater, year-round splitboarding and mountain playgrounds where he practices his craft.