Enduro mountain bike pro Cooper Ott of the Pivot Factory Racing Team just recently joined our crew of Stan’s sponsored athletes. The 27-year-old headed into 2019 as the defending Big Mountain Enduro (BME) series champion after winning in 2018 - her second time. Her first BME series title came in 2016 shortly after she made the switch from cross country to enduro racing. We sat down to catch up with the Gunnison, Colorado-based rider ahead of the 2019 season.
Stan’s NoTubes: How did you get into riding and racing?
Cooper Ott: I’ve been riding a bike since I began following my dad around on the trails behind our house. At first, I was on a trail-a-bike, then I got my own mountain bike. But in high school, I was more into skiing, soccer and golf, so I didn’t really get into riding mountain bikes and competing until college.
SNT: Some fans may remember you from having raced the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) back in your cross country riding and racing days. How did you get into enduro?
CO: In 2015, my husband and I moved out here to Colorado with the intention of me doing the Epic Rides race series and a bunch of cross country races. But I quickly discovered that those weren’t anything like the lap racing I was used to doing in WORS. So the following weekend, I did an enduro race. I crashed in every stage but one, but it was the most fun I ever had racing a bike! So I made the switch just like that. I immediately ditched my plan to do a cross country season. SNT: Many top enduro riders come from a downhill background. What was it like for you coming from cross country?
CO: I already had my fitness built up, but my skills were not where they should have been for enduro. Luckily since then, my skills have caught up. Compared to someone coming from downhill who would have had to work on her fitness, I had to work on my skills.
SNT: Do you ever miss cross country racing?
CO: Not really. Every now and then, I get the urge to do a cool cross country race in a beautiful place. Usually, I still chose to do an enduro instead. I don’t think that I’ll ever want to be competitive again in cross country.
SNT: What do you love about enduro?
CO: The atmosphere at all the races is fun. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like we’re racing because it’s so much fun, and we’re hanging out and talking. That’s not to say that it doesn’t get competitive when the clock starts. SNT: How do you see enduro racing evolving as a discipline in the next few years?
CO: I see more and more people getting involved, including more kids, which is awesome because they are the future of the sport. Enduro won’t evolve if it’s just a bunch of 20-, 30- and 40-year-olds. I see enduro getting bigger and better, more organized and more dialed in.
SNT: What does the future look like for women’s enduro racing?
CO: I see more women in general getting into cycling, and I think it means that there will be more women like me crossing over into enduro from other disciplines. SNT: What Stan’s wheels are you riding and racing?
CO: Baron MK3 in 29”. I love how easy they are to set up tubeless. I did it with a floor pump; I didn’t need an air compressor. I also love how many different rim widths Stan’s offers. It means that I can pick whichever one makes my tire profile the best. It’s so nice to have options.
SNT: What were some of your favorite highlights to the 2018 season besides winning the BME series?
CO: The Crested Butte round of the BME was one of the best. It was one of those races where it was the home field for me - held on some of the trails I ride on a regular basis. I had never won it before, and it felt so good and was fun to finally do so! My other goal was to finish the Scott Enduro Series, and I ended up winning that, too. SNT: What are your goals for this 2019 season?
CO: I’ll continue working on my skills and getting better as an all-around rider. I’ll compete in the BME again and maybe also the Scott Enduro Cup, depending on the schedule which hasn’t been released yet. I’d like to ride new trails by exploring more of the trails around our house. Finally, I’ll also be racing in the Northstar round of the Enduro World Series (EWS).
SNT: When you are not riding a bike, what do you like to do?
CO: I ride my dirt bike, eat ice cream and play with my puppy! I also work part-time at a ski shop called the Alpineer and coach, but really, mainly I race bikes.
SNT: Any parting thoughts?
CO: I’d like to give a shout out to my husband - who is also my mechanic - for all of his support.