“Today is a big day for me—I received my first paycheck as a professional mountain biker!” reads the Instagram post, accompanied by a shot of a beaming Amanda Cordell proudly gripping a check. For anyone who’s spent years dreaming of going pro, the first payday is a defining moment, but for Cordell, it’s come sooner than she could have ever hoped—the 26-year-old has only been on the mountain bike for five years (she’s now sponsored by Laketown Bicycles, Smith Optics, Troy Lee Designs, Raceface, Discrete Clothing, Gamut USA, and Fox Shox). Yet it becomes abundantly clear as we talk with the Salt Lake City resident that her quick success is the result of an unparalleled dedication to her sport: she’s on a personal mission to pedal a bike every single day of the year. We caught up with Cordell to talk about Pedal365, her best tips for new bikers, and what she bought with her first paycheck as a pro.
What’s the goal of Pedal365?
Someone asked me what my New Year’s resolution was. I told them that I don’t usually make resolutions but if I did it would probably have something to do with biking. Then I got to thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to say that I pedaled a bike every day in 2014? I try to take a photo for every day so that I can stitch them all together at the end of the year.
When you don’t feel like biking, how do you motivate yourself?
Ha! Well, I never don’t feel like working out! I actually have to motivate myself to take breaks; I’m not very good at staying still but sometimes your body has to rest. On those days I take an easy spin on the trainer, but I would much rather be out on the trail every day.
When did you realize mountain biking could become your career?
I got serious about biking when I moved to Utah. In fact, I’ve only been riding for about five years now. I started doing XC rides and then I started to play around at bike parks. As soon as I got my wheels off the ground I was hooked. I bought a downhill bike from a friend and signed up for my first race. I did OK, but I wanted to be better. As for making a career out of it, that has kind of just happened. I feel like that’s the way it should be … enjoy life and do what you love and the necessary resources will follow. I actually have a fortune cookie that says that. Not to say that riding your bike every day while trying to pay the bills is easy—it’s definitely not. I work very hard to have the life that I do, but if you put your heart and soul into something that you love, good things are sure to follow.
What was the first thing you bought with your first paycheck as a pro biker?
In what ways has your life changed since going pro?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, and I’ve been traveling a lot and having so much fun.
What are your biking essentials?
A TLD D3 helmet (every girl should have at least one), Smith Optics Fuel goggles and Pivlock sunglasses, riding shorts (I like the Moto shorts from TLD), a lightweight rain jacket, SPD shoes (you can’t go wrong with Fiveten rubber), hair ties, spare tubes, and gummy bears for the trail.
What’s one thing every biker should save up for?
A trip to Whistler, British Columbia, and a good helmet.
What’s been your gnarliest injury while biking?
Has to be when I was shooting with Smith Optics in Idaho. I was riding with Lars Sternberg and we decided to attempt the first male/female descent down “Knob Hill.” It’s a short and steep knuckle-grabber rock face with a shelf at the end and no smooth run out. Lars went first and manhandled the thing on the first try. It took me two tries—I had a hematoma the size of a baby’s head on my hip and couldn’t sit down for two weeks, but it was so worth it.
Does anything still scare you about mountain biking?
Yes, but mostly just things that are out of my control, like bears and snakes.
One practical tip for someone new to biking you can share?
Look ahead. No good ever comes from looking down at the ground in front of you. As far down the trail as you can see, that’s where your eyes should be.
Favorite post-ride snack?
Dr. Pepper with crushed ice and a straw. Preferably in a Styrofoam cup, but that wouldn’t be a deal breaker.
Do you listen to music or just the sounds of nature when you ride?
I only listen to music on race day, or if I’m trying to conquer a new obstacle.
What’s one thing every biker should learn how to do?
Two things: pump and bunny hop. They are two skills that transfer to every aspect of riding, so find a pump track and live there.
What’s your No. 1 goal for this year?
Have fun and stand on lots of podiums.
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