Many of the women at the 2019 Montana Cross Camp are heading into their Junior years of high school, but Alaska’s Ellie Mitchell (NW Women’s Cyclocross Project) was a bit of an elder stateswoman at the camp. Mitchell graduated high school in the spring and is headed to Colorado Mesa University to race cyclocross and mountain bikes this fall.
“It was one of my requirements for the school I chose,” Mitchell said about picking a school with a varsity cycling program. “It needs to have a cycling team because I’m not going to keep riding and training without having peers, and I wanted that team aspect at the college I go to.”
When she heads to Grand Junction, it will be a bit of a trip. Mitchell grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, which is not necessarily a place that gets cited as a ’cross hotbed.
“We have a very early season. It starts early September, and we have seven series races. They’re not super big, but we do have a pretty strong cycling community, so I do have women I get to race against. The community vibe is definitely like what you’d see anywhere else with cyclocross,” Mitchell said about her home-state scene.
One of the goals of the Montana Cross Camp is to foster camaraderie among the campers, but that does not mean there are not friendly competitions. On Wednesday, riders engaged in a game of Bike Derby and on Thursday it was the two big QOM climbs.
Mitchell did quite well in both. She won the second QOM climb Thursday and was a two-time Bike Derby winner. Her success in the latter competition was no accident.
“I came to this camp last year, and I found I was definitely lacking in the technical skills, so I drilled them a lot last season. Track standing was one of those things where I was like, ‘I want to be good at that,” Mitchell explained.
I sat down to chat with Mitchell when we were in Montana. You can get to know her better in the video below.