Life on Two Wheels: How Marlee Dixon stumbled into life as an MTB pro
Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”
Marlee Dixon never planned to become a professional mountain biker.
For the past decade, the Vermont native has lived and worked and played in Summit County. Like many East Coasters, she was drawn to Colorado by the promise of skiing champagne powder and dropping into high-alpine chutes.
But, as a new resident living year-round in an outdoor Mecca, she needed an athletic outlet for the warm summer months. Mountain biking seemed like a natural alternative: It’s wild, exhilarating and, just like skiing, the perfect introduction to miles upon miles of Summit trails.
“I started racing within a few weeks of getting on a mountain bike because I love competitive sports and thought the racing part would be fun,” she said. “I ended up meeting a lot of great people and became a little addicted to mountain bike racing. We have some awesome trails here.”
One thing led to another, and just two short years after hopping in the saddle, Dixon was taking first place in the local Summit Mountain Challenge Series and other cross-country races across the state. A year later, she entered the pro/open category and tackled longer events across the region: the Crested Butte 40, Firecracker 50, Rage in the Sage outside of Gunnison and the Park City Point to Point race in Utah. Yet another year later, she joined the MTBRacenews.com/Epic Brewing race team. She wrote race reports in between posing for podium photos, and there were many: In 2014 alone, she placed in the top three at 10 races, including third at the Breck Epic and second at the legendary Fall Classic in Breckenridge.
This year, Dixon joined a new team, the Pivot Mach 4 women’s squad, and shifted her focus to the National Ultra Endurance series. It’s the marquee U.S. series for MTBers who prefer riding for several days and several hundred miles, rather than just a quick 30-mile jaunt, and she’s fallen in love with the torture. She’ll compete in the six-stage Breck Epic event from Aug. 9-14, and will finish more than 50 races by summer’s end.
Here’s how the accidental pro found a new calling on the singletrack:
“My bike has taken me to a life I never thought I would have, or want. Graduating college and heading into a great consulting job at the age of 23, I imagined by 30 years old I would have a great career, a family, a house in New England, et cetera. Now, at the age of 33, I just spent the past two weeks living out of a converted Sprinter cargo van, traveling the West Coast to race two ultra-endurance mountain bike races, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Mountain bike season started early this spring and I started traveling to various dry areas to train, like St. George, Moab, Salida and the Front Range. Race season also started earlier this year. I’ve been racing all over the country: the True Grit Epic 100 in St. George, Utah, in March, the Mohican 100 in Loudonville, Ohio, for Memorial Day. I’m hoping to add a few more races this fall, and I’m already thinking about how I can travel further, possibly to a stage race abroad. I’m also thinking about where I want to go next year, how I can be as fast as possible while racing over hundreds of miles, up and down thousands of feet of elevation gain. You come home content in exhaustion. When you’re living out of a van, traveling across the country, meeting people from all over the world and racing against some of the strongest and fastest women in the country, it’s turned into an incredibly fulfilling and adventurous lifestyle.”
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