Annie Fulton may not be leading the Cal Cup series but she’s sucking up points by winning all the hard case races. So far she’s managed to rack up wins at both Patterson Pass and University by breaking the legs of the competition. Her recent win’s show a depth of talent and relationship with pain that has taken time and resolve to develop. Much like her main Cal Cup rival, Jane Despas, Fulton is focused on trying to build her career out side of cycling and managing to race at a high level. We caught up with her after University to get some insight into her approach.
Give us a quick recap of your high school and college athletic background.
You know how most little kids take a gymnastics class and learn how to walk on the beam and jump on the trampoline? Well, I took those classes and just didn’t stopped for 14 years.
Makes sense – you kind of have that tiny pixie climber thing going.
Gymnasts are short. and all around, very muscular. No velociraptor arms here!
Did you have an event your event ?
There is a common misconception that gymnasts have an “event” – I competed all-around. Though, I usually scored well on floor and vault.
Where did you peak in your gymnastics career?
I would say the best result I got was placing 3rd on beam at zones (this would be somewhat equivalent to districts in cycling)
You grew up in the area but didn’t start cycling until you got back from college – how did that start?
My dad got me a road bike when I was in college so he could take me along on his summer cycling adventures with his buddies in Europe. I road a bit while at school, but 6 months of snow a year meant that I got in almost all of my riding time in the summer and while touring.
Riding with a bunch of old guys in a beautiful setting sounds like the Stahl Ride [A famous weekly ride run by Peninsula legend Dave Stahl through the Santa Cruz Mountains] Did you end up riding with your dad in europe?
Haha – you have a point. My dad passed away three years ago, just a few days after we completed a tour in the Dolomites. Perhaps the Stahl ride is my favorite because it makes me nostalgic for all those miles spent with my dad when we just rode for the fun of it.
You have managed to become one of the top NorCal women racers and start building a career as a much sought after web developer at the same time – how do you balance the two?
You have to love both cycling and your career to make it work. Also set realistic expectations for yourself. I honestly feel like I could have been a better racer or progressed further in my career if I had just focused on one.
Now that you have some semblance of a formula down what do you see as your biggest achievement to date?
While winning Patterson Pass was gratifying, I have to say my favorite moment in cycling was not a race but being invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. It was so amazing to share the facilities with some of the best athletes in the world.
What kind of activities did they have you do at the OTC?
Besides a couple fitness tests, they were really testing our bike handling and grace under fire. One ride involved riding in pitch-black tunnels on dirt roads. Another time we were placed in a small area and told to knock off riders until there was one rider remaining!
Did you meet any athletes that inspired you while you were there?
This may sound funny, but Rulon Gardner. [ed note. 2000 Greco Roman Wrestling Gold Medalist and Biggest Loser Contestant] I saw him at the OTC and have been totally inspired by him since. I relate to Rulon because he is an emotional athlete who goes through many ups and downs, but is always a fierce competitor.
After being exiled to Maine for several years can you attest to how much better the NorCal lifestyle is to east coast living?
I mean, it is nice to not have Wal-Mart be “the thing to do” in town…..
Heh…. and what is your favorite NorCal race?
I’m going to have to go with Pescadero RR. It’s beautiful, climby, and involves eating garlic artichoke bread afterwards!
Speaking of NorCal races, you always do well in CalCup – what about those races fit your racing style?
I love long epic bike rides. What is more epic that 4+ hour races in 100 degree heat, gnarly winds, and lots of climbing? Only the dinner I eat afterwards.
What is the one thing that dinner has to have in it?
There is nothing I crave more after a tough race than a burrito.
You are extremely to the point. I chalk that up to your time going to college (Bates) in a state (Maine) that would be better annexed by Canada. On that note…Who talks funnier Canadians, Australians, or the fish-heads from Maine?
Maineiacs. Who else eats lawbstah with buttah for suppah?
I had a long question about goals, philosophy, and your approach, but in the end… where do you want cycling will take you?
That is a tough one. I have found myself unwilling to give up my career, so I’d like to take racing as far as I can while working full-time. Cycling has given me many things, but in general I would say racing has given my life a focus which has been very helpful while dealing with my dad’s death and the confusion of post-school life.
Check back soon for an interview with Cal Cup men’s bad ass Evan Huffman.
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