After struggling with injuries for over two years, caused by a broken ankle and resulting infections that followed, Dutch XCO athlete Anne Terpstra came back stronger than ever. She became the first Dutch woman to win a World Cup and is one of the strongest women in the field today, competing for the podium throughout the 2019 season. During the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup finals in Snowshoe, she battled for the win with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, but ultimately had to settle for second. A fourth overall underlines her excellent season in an incredibly tight women's field.
Describe yourself.Anne found it too hard to answer this question on her own so she forwarded it to Tom Wickles, GHOST Factory Racing's team manager and her boyfriend:
“Anne is usually a happy girl and then you can also hear her laughing from far away. But she also has a profound character and is always eager to find out why things are as they are. She is very helpful to other people and tries to share her knowledge and experiences with others if they ask for it. She is not the one to put herself to much in the focus and is not that extrovert person that you have to realize she is there – but it is hard to miss that curly hair and happy laughing girl on her bike.’’
Where are you from and where do you live?
I grew up in the Netherlands and after moving a couple of times when I was pretty young, my parents and I ended up in a city called Apeldoorn. At the moment, I spend a lot of time in Waldsassen in Germany as well, where GHOST Bikes has its headquarters and where my boyfriend lives.
Who do you ride for?
GHOST Factory Racing
What bikes are you riding?
I have many GHOST bikes and actually ride them all: from E-Enduro (Slamr Hybride), enduro (Slamr X), to road (Nivolet X), from track to cyclocross (Road Rage). My main bike is by far my Lector, an XC hardtail which is very fast and direct in handling. Because I ride most races on it I prefer to spend most of my training time with this bike as well.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
To point out my strenghts and weaknesses is something I kind of struggle with. I am not the fastest descender, but I don’t lose a lot of time either. At the same time, I am not the best climber out there. So, looks like my strength is my all-round performance. I can handle a lot of different courses and still bring a consistent performance. I like technical courses, but I can get a little bit afraid of wet roots. Coming from Holland, I learned how to handle short and explosive uphills and I naturally have the power for them. Longer climbs without technical interruptions don’t fit me very wel... Or maybe I just don’t like them that much.
What's been your worst crash?
To be honest I can’t say the moment I broke my ankle was my worst crash. I didn’t even touch the ground more or less. But it definitely was the mistake with the biggest consequences. Coming into a berm too slow, I slid down and put my toes in the berm. My foot yanked to the left and I kind of felt it was hanging there way too far to the left. It happened in January 2018 and put a stamp on my whole 2018 season. I can’t really think of any other "bad" crash - luckily. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve hit the ground a lot, but I always got away with it.
Any favourite place to ride?
South Africa! Since 2017, I've gone every year to prepare myself for the season. With so many wineries that have amazing specific cross-country trails, it feels like I’m in heaven every time I get to ride there. Travelling there with my boyfriend it doesn’t only feel like I’m training, but we have a good time together and it’s like a holiday to me. With good weather and mostly good company as well, this is the place to be for me. Sometimes they even have some early races over there, where I have the opportunity to test my shape for the first time.
Looking to the future, what are your goals and plans?
This year I am quite pleased with my performance. I missed the 3rd overall spot by an inch, after a great battle with Pauline Ferrand-Prevot in Snowshoe. In October, I have the opportunity to travel to Tokyo with the Dutch team and check out the Olympic course at the test event. Until then I will just do what I feel like to keep my fitness on a level that is acceptable to race my final race of the year there. After that, I’m looking forward to taking some time off and enjoying life without a bike for a while. With 2020 as an Olympic season and already being qualified for the Olympics, I know it will be important to charge my batteries and start my preparation fresh and rested. The Olympics will be my main goal but at the same time, I don’t want to forget all other World Cup races and Championships I get to race next year.
As a Dutch mountain biker, how did you get started and make progress throughout the years?
When I was young I actually used to swim. My younger brother got the idea he wanted to ride a mountain bike. Even though we do not have any mountains in the Netherlands (surprise! :-P) and nobody in our family was familiar with the sport, he stuck to it. In the end, my parents let him give it a try and he loved it right away. When I saw my brother having so much fun on the mountain bike I got interested as well.
When I was about 10 years old I raced my very first race, in the pouring rain, and I knew this was what I liked to do. I wasn’t the best rider, but I had a lot of fun. When I came into the junior category I got a first taste of mountain biking abroad – and I had to admit that was something different to what I was used to. But when we actually got to ride up a mountain instead of on flat trails, I suddenly was better compared to the other girls. From 18 years old I started to train with more structure and slowly but surely I made progress over the years. In the younger categories, I always had good results, but my way to where I am now wasn’t a straight line. I think I made the progress I made because of the people around me and the consistent work I’ve put in over time.
What in your surroundings influenced your racing or attitude and how?
Today I finally made the step to not get influenced too easy and simply trust myself. I needed until this year to have the confidence for that, but this was a huge step and one which makes me very pleased. Before my insecurity always made me look to other riders: how do they ride, what do they eat, what does their day look like, what should I do different. It always ended up in noticing I do things different and it made me think about if I was making the right decisions. It feels way more quiet in my head now that I just do what makes me happy and feel good.
Still, there are some people that I rely on. Most importantly my boyfriend Tom and when it comes to my life as an athlete my coach Guido. And my GHOST Factory Racing team. Doesn’t matter if it’s one of my teammates or one of the boys: they all know me very well and see how I am doing. I can just be myself and when you know how much time we spend together, you will understand why that is so important to me.
Who or what inspires you?
I don’t have a specific idol, but I do get inspired by special sentences that work for me. I gathered them over the years from specific people and I can always get back to them. My dad always used to say in Dutch: "Alles mag, niks moet", which kind of means that I mustn’t do anything, but that everything is allowed. It is one of the sentences that makes me get rid of the pressure I can put on myself. Our physio Sebi once said to me when I got insecure again, that "There is no reason why it will not work out". Every time I am losing confidence I can use this one to gain it back, because usually there really is no reason.
One of my former trainers told me that when it comes to racing "Everybody suffers". I always thought the ladies in the front were just riding around, but this made me realise in our sport it doesn’t work like that. My boyfriend has the easy saying that you can "solve problems only when they appear". Being in my head a lot and thinking about things that probably won’t even happen, this sentence makes me let go more and just go with the flow. There are many more of these small bits of wisdom that are special to me, but these are some examples.
What makes and keeps you happy?
My friends and family. I know I don’t see them a lot, but that makes me notice even more how important these people are to me. Things that make me happy are being outside in nature, going to the sauna, having a nice dinner, good and inspiring talks with friends, drinking coffee, writing in my diary…
What does a typical day look like for you?
On a typical day I prefer to wake up without an alarm (just for the mind) and first start the day easy. I’ll have a coffee and make my breakfast, then take some time to prepare the day and probably around 10AM I’ll get on the bike. Usually, I ride between 1.5 to 3 hours, mostly offroad. When I come home I make lunch and chill a bit. In the afternoon I can focus on recovery and do some stretching or use a Blackroll to keep my muscles happy after training. I like watching Netflix, because it makes me do nothing without getting bored – and I get bored easily. I clean my bikes if necessary, but don’t touch them in any other way (believe me, that’s better). Luckily our mechanic Uwe can take care of it from time to time.
If you could take a skill from a rider, what and whom would it be?
One of my colleagues that is riding on GHOST is Tomak Slavik. You might know him as a 4X rider. He has amazing jump skills (and of course also the experience) that I am absolutely jealous of. I know he has spent his life on different kind of bikes and did not just have that skill, but being not the best in jumping stuff that skill would I take right away. Or maybe it’s just about having the guts. In that case I’ll take it too, haha!
If you weren't a pro mountain biker, what would you be?
I studied medicine before I turned pro and have my bachelor degree. Combining my master with riding on this level, unfortunately, is impossible, because of all the internships you have to do in the hospital. So I think I would have been a doctor now, if I would not be riding my bike. When I stopped studying, I always thought it would be for a relatively short time and I expected myself to continue studying more or less after the Rio Olympics.
But I wasn’t done with riding yet and even though I didn’t picture myself as a pro rider at all, and definitely not for this long time, I am not done riding now either and I am still happy with the life I can live now and the things I learn on this journey. What happens after 2020 is something I’ll decide next year, but with the progress I made and the joy I am feeling when on my bike, I want to continue riding my bike as a pro rider, also after the Tokyo Olympics.
Where do you think the future of XC is heading?
Over the last years we saw XCO races getting shorter and courses getting more technical. In women’s racing, the field is big and competitive and you never know what will happen until you reach the finish line. I think this trend will continue. With short track (XCC) introduced in World Cup racing last year, I expect that discipline to get bigger and have a more profound influence, maybe as well at smaller UCI races and championships. As an all-round rider, I always dreamed about an all-round classification with different distances and/or disciplines counting in one overall standings, as we see in speed skating for instance. That is very different to how the sport is looking now and I am not sure if others share my opinion. Seeing a downhiller ride XCO, or a marathon rider do short track would give interesting stories for sure, and I think we can actually learn things from each other as each discipline has a different approach to racing in the end.
What did winning a World Cup change for you?
Winning a World Cup changed the way I think about myself mostly. It gave me the confidence that I am one of the "fast" girls, and I didn’t look at them anymore as "the others". Of course, it wasn’t one button that I could push, this whole year made that change. Every time I get a solid result I can give myself the confirmation that I am good enough. Not for the outside world but for me. Ironically I can be happy about myself now when the results aren’t what I expect as well, and not let my happiness depend on my performance. To learn this, I had to win first. It brought me to where I am today.