Longtime Trek cross-country racer and Trek World Racing athlete, Willow Rockwell has announced she’s leaving professional racing. The 34-year old Durango resident has been at the front of women’s XC racing for the past decade. In 2011, Willow took the year off to have her first child, Raven, with the full intention of returning in 2012 to pick up where she left off as one of the world’s fastest women on a bike.
Willow used the year off to write a book about the serious struggles she faced in racing and in life, and the strength she found to overcome them to find happiness. My Wheels Gave Me Wings was published just before Willow returned to the World Cup in 2012. However, with little time to train for the upcoming season and a beautiful baby girl vying for her attention, 2012 was shaping up differently than planned.
“After much soul searching, and many tears, I have decided to end my mountain bike racing career,” said Rockwell. “I committed to racing for 2012 before having my child. There was no way I could have predicted the changes that have occurred within me. Thank you for your support during this time of intense decision and transformation. I especially thank my Team Manager Martin Whiteley and my team, Trek World Racing, for understanding that sometimes life has other plans. Enjoy every moment on the bicycle, for every moment adds up to create your life!”
Willow leaves competitive racing having accomplished much; From world cups to pinups, the petite powerhouse was the sport’s most dynamic rider. A collegiate national champion, World Cup overall leader, two-time bronze-medalist at the World Championships, VeloNews Female Cyclist of the Year, and 2-time US Olympic long team nominee, Willow relished the spotlight. She had her best results on the World Cup and World Championship stage. She was featured multiple times in the Cyclepassion calendar. The 5’2” rider also raced and won on 29” wheels well before her male counterpart World Cup riders took to the bigger wheels, simultaneously blowing up the myth that 29ers were only for tall riders.
Longtime sponsor and fan, Gary Fisher had this to say, “Willow is mountain biking. A wonderfully strong, beautiful, unique individual that inspired others. She picked up any legacy I may have set as a passionate, sporty eccentric and refined it into something much more beautiful and wonderful. Something that grew our sport and something I can, in turn, aspire to.”