Cyclist signs contract with European team

miguel jaime

Hannah Ross, exercise physiology graduate, rides in the Hotter 'N Hell crit races Aug. 22. Photo by Lauren Roberts
Hannah Ross, exercise physiology graduate, rides in the Hotter ‘N Hell crit races Aug. 22. Photo by Lauren Roberts

As a young child growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, Hannah Ross spent most of her days in a swimming pool. After first jumping in the pool, Ross dreamt of nothing else other than becoming a professional swimmer.

“My parents loved swimming so that’s how I got in it. My parents basically put me in the water while I was 1 and then I started the swim team when I was 6. So I swam competitively since I was 6,” Ross, graduate student in exercise physiology, said.

And for the next 18 years, Ross worked on being competitive, swimming and cycling. In November, she signed a one-year professional contract with EUregio Ladies Cycling Team, based in the Netherlands. But this wasn’t her first attempt at becoming a professional athlete.

THE EARLY YEARS

She then went on to swim collegiately as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. During that time she participated in Olympic trials for swimming and placed eighth.

“I race because I’m competitive. I love it. I was so competitive that I always wanted to be doing something, racing something, everything. I hate whenever people play volleyball and don’t take score. It just drives me nuts. And so I just like the aspect of racing and pushing myself really hard,” Ross said.

Her competitive nature led her to the pursuit of another professional career, a pro-triathlete. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2013, she dedicated a full year to becoming a triathlete. Multiple injuries ended that dream sooner than she expected. But even that didn’t stop her.

“So I never got to think about how bad it really sucked to be injured because when I rode my bike it didn’t hurt. Even walking at certain point’s hurt, but when I got on my bike it didn’t hurt. You know I think that was just kind of a gateway for me. So that’s what kept me going.”

“My goal was to go to the Olympics for swimming, and I got really close to that goal, but I was never really able to attain that goal. So I really want to go to the Olympics in cycling, whether it is track or road. That would be my dream.”

CYCLING COMPETITIVELY

Ross first got started in cycling last year when her triathlon Coach from Utah, Sarah Dunlap, suggested she train with cyclist to prepare for triathlons.

“Finding cycling is how I kept going. I got really down about not being able to run and things just kept getting better and better for cycling,” Ross said.

It wasn’t until last July that she chose to do cycling full time. Before she was training for three sports and only cycled three times out of the week. Now the 23-year-old, 5’9, 150-pound rider trains every day. Some days she trains for four hours, other days she trains for two hours, 20 or more hours a week.

“Just balancing school, my job, and training. It gets busy at times, so just always making sure you stay focus is an obstacle.”

After committing to cycling, Ross said she decided to come to MSU to further pursue her cycling career. She first heard about MSU at a cycling event this summer and met one of the girls that cycle for MSU. She then contacted the director and got in the graduate program in exercise physiology on a cycling scholarship.

“Getting a scholarship to come here that was big for me because I wanted to continue my education, and the ability to be able to basically do the same thing with swimming but with cycling was a huge opportunity,” Ross said.

This was an opportunity that Ross took not only at a collegiate level, but a professional level as well.

“Coach contacts me and says hey there’s a team that has an opening spot, like you need to send out your cycling resume. And I was like okay. And he says there is like no guarantee; you know it’s a shot in the dark. I emailed them my resume and they said they would get back to me in a few weeks because they didn’t know if they could get another foreign rider on the team. But they actually got back to me the next day and said they wanted me on the team. So I kind of just jumped on the gun, and was like yeah let’s do it. So then I decided I was going to Europe and it’s I don’t know, exciting,” Ross said.

The contract that Ross signed a few weeks ago to EUregio Ladies Cycling Team, which is based out of the Netherlands, lasts only one year and begins in January, but since she is obligated to race with MSU, she wont be leaving until May after collegiate nationals in North Carolina. She will come back just before school starts next fall due to her commitments to the MSU’s collegiate cycling team and her desire to finish her master’s degree.

“My racing resume is not that big, but my power numbers is what kind of got me on the team and my background of going from Olympic level swimmer to pro-triathlete in a year, to being a competitive cyclist; So just my background in athletics and my experience of already being on a world level of swimming. I’m a really young cyclist in experience, but I have experience of racing on a world class level, so I’m not really afraid to go for things.”

A lot of her races will be in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, but they will be going all over Europe because they will participate in a couple of world cups.

“This is an initial investment for me because this is my first year doing it. So I’m just kind of hoping to get my foot in the door, and then hopefully there on be able to become a salary rider.”

“I guess the funny thing is seeing where I’ve come in such a short period because my first cycling race I showed up in a triathlon kit and that’s illegal in a cycling race. And I remember all the girls looking at me and being all scared because they had to race me and thought that I was basically going to take everyone out or like hurt them by not being able to control my bike because I’m a tri-athlete.”

Since she’s only going for the summer, Ross will have to fund her flight over to Europe and back, and also the food for her off days. To help raise money for her trip, Ross tutors students at the academic student center in anatomy and physiology. She also created a fundraising campaign which people can help her accomplish her dreams.

SUPPORTERS

“There have been a lot of people that helped me along the way. My parents are definitely my number one supporters, and the MSU cycling team, the support they give us is awesome. You need to be thankful for everything that has been given to you. You know there is a lot of support that goes into being a cyclist and you cant do it alone, so always being thankful for those that are helping you along the way. Never forget to say thank you to someone that helps you and let them know that you really appreciate them because some people get lost along the way and expect people to do things for them, and you lose that support when that happens.”

“One thing that I’m really big on is that a lot of cyclist don’t think they can go professional and go to school, so I really want to advocate that you can go to school and pursue a higher education while still being able to be a professional cyclist.

Although she is still pursuing her education, this next step in cycling brings Ross one-step closer to her dream of making it to the Olympics.

“I mean im getting closer. I’m still really far away but the opportunities available there are huge.”

When asked how others can follow in her footsteps, Ross said, “Just keep going. Keep working hard, that’s what you got to do. It’s all about hard work. And eventually you put in the time and the heart; I believe you can make something happen. So don’t let your dreams go. Some dreams may never be what you expect. Some dreams don’t work out, but always have a dream and pursue it.”