Meet U23 Elite Team Rider Ellen Campbell
It’s that time of year again!
We are honored to introduce our new team members for the upcoming 2019 season in a featured newsletter each Friday.
Check in every week to get the inside scoop!
This week, meet…
Racing Age: 22
Hometown: Durango, CO
Race Bike of Choice: TREK Top Fuel 9.9
Favorite Training Song: Aftergold (ft. Tove Stryke) – Big Wild
Favorite Post-Ride Snack: Fruit Smoothie
Ever since I could remember I have been struggling with an irregular heart beat. When I was younger in elementary school I remember being escorted to the nurses office to check my pulse and blood pressure. I would be sitting still or playing with my friends at recess and my heart would suddenly skip a beat and then begin racing.This would cause me to be short of breath and it would go on for 5-10 minutes. When I started riding and racing bikes this condition became a nuisance, my heart rate would spike when I was already working hard. I eventually went to a specialist in Denver, who was able to diagnose me with Supra-ventricular Tachycardia (SVT). Finally some answers. He informed me that I could live with this condition but as I aged it could put wear on my heart. It was also extremely inconvenient with my active lifestyle. So I decide to have surgery to repair my heart. Basically, they eliminated a node in my heart that was causing the misfire of electric signals between chambers. The procedure wasn’t too risky but, if something were to go wrong I would live with a pacemaker for the rest of my life and my active lifestyle would be gone. Luckily for me, I came through perfectly. Now, I can race and ride with ease, knowing I would be out of breath from a problem with my heart.
I was born and raised in beautiful Durango, Colorado. I am currently attending and racing for Fort Lewis College in Durango. I grew up in an amazing, inclusive community of cyclists. However, I wasn’t always interested in the sport of cycling. My father had been a track coach for the Olympic team in Colorado Springs and he was a heavy influence on me in terms of riding. Growing up, I tried just about every sport in the book, but nothing really clicked.
In 7th grade I joined the local development program, Durango DEVO. I went to practices twice a week and soon I found a new little niche of people my age riding bikes. For me, cycling started out as a fun way to hang out with my friends; I wasn’t interested in racing or really riding by myself. It wasn’t until high school, when I joined the Colorado NICA league that I fell in love with competition. I remember by first high school race clearly. I raced the freshman category and it was the State Championship (back before you had to qualify). I showed up without a jersey because I had no clue that I even need one and I ended up borrowing my coaches. Turns out I’m really competitive and at the end of the race I was riding with another girl. Right before the finish, she had a hard crash. I stopped with her and made sure she was O.K., and we then walked into the finish together. I took second that day and from there I only wanted more. High school league showed me how special racing bikes is. Every other weekend for the first seven weeks of school I got to travel all over Colorado with my best friends and ride our bikes together. There was something special about these weekends of racing; the Durango team had a tradition of dressing up in costumes for the course pre-ride and being one of the few teams that camped all together. I will always treasure these fun memories; they will be a constant reminder of how I started racing and the importance of keeping it a little bit silly.
During high school, I loved riding and racing my bike in the NICA league but I wasn’t sure if the racing beyond high school was for me. I decided to check out tennis to try and gain some balance and variety in my life. It didn’t last long and soon I was searching for colleges that would allow me to grow as a cyclist. I chose to stay in Durango and go to Fort Lewis because of all the remarkable riding and the wonderful support that the team provides. The collegiate racing has opened my eyes to so many possibilities and has provided amazing opportunities for me to try new disciplines. My freshman year I raced a fall mountain bike and cyclocross season, and in the spring, I raced road while following the ProXCT mountain bike circuit. This past fall season, I explored gravity mountain biking as a means to improve my skills and become a faster descender. Not only has Fort Lewis revealed endless opportunities, but it has also given me a whole new network of cyclist that I will race and work with for the rest of my cycling career.
In addition to racing bikes for Fort Lewis, I am studying ecological biology. I love this field because it intrigues me to know how our ecosystems work. Durango provides a wealth of resources for studying biology and I am out in the field every week. I hope to travel and gain a better understanding of the ecosystems around the world. There is so many unique and valuable areas in the field of biology, and I aspire to learn as much as I can to help save the planet. While it is not always easy to balance my studies, training and racing, I have a passion for education just as I do in my cycling endeavors.
Beyond my life as a cyclist, which honestly is most of my life, I enjoy spending time outside adventuring. Durango sits in the heart of the San Juan mountains, providing a boundless backyard to play in. I love hiking and camping with my friends. And in the heat of the summer, paddling on the local mountain lakes. In the winter, I alpine and Nordic ski. I have a background in freestyle ski competition but, I have just recently begun Nordic skiing for cross training purposes. On the snowy weekends between base miles, you can find me skiing in the backcountry and touring with my pals. I live with two amazing gals and two rambunctious dogs, and together we all enjoy the outdoors.