Anneke Beerten was hit by a driver that ran a red light in August of 2020 as she was driving home from a day of riding at Big Bear and
, she revealed that she has been struggling with recovering from a traumatic brain injury ever since. The 2015 Queen of Crankworx and three-time 4X World Champion has announced her retirement from professional sport today as a result of this injury.
Words by Anneke Beerten from annekebeerten.com
After over a year of rehabilitation and seeing many specialists, doctors and doing rehab for my brain injury sustained in a car accident, my doctors have decided I will have to retire from racing at the Elite pro level of mountain biking. This is for my own safety and health. The risks and danger racing at the highest level brings and knowing it takes 110% to be racing against the clock and in-between the tape is not safe for me while I’m still recovering from my brain injury. Unfortunately, my visual system isn’t back to normal yet and my left eye is struggling with tracking. Putting stress on my visual system causes symptoms like nausea, dizziness, fatigue and confusion in the brain. The visual system is complex and everything you see needs to be processed by the brain, and due to the injuries I incurred, I have some loose circuits in there. Next to my visual dysfunction, I still experience neck pain from the whiplash and just recently underwent a nerve block procedure to help reduce my neck pain and headaches.
Some things in life are out of our control. And while it breaks my heart to end my career this way, I feel lucky for the time I had. As a pro athlete you always dream of ending your career on a high and doing that one last race, but for me that will not be the case.
The past year has been difficult, challenging and a roller coaster to say the least. My life went from going a 100miles an hour to a dead stop. I love riding, racing, camping, traveling, riding dirt bikes and exploring this world. And when your life comes to a sudden halt along with dealing with severe symptoms for months, life gets pretty dark.
But these difficult months have made me stronger, more appreciative of life, grateful for what I have, can do again, and it motivates me to keep going and set new life goals and to keep pedaling forward.
I can look back knowing I gave it my all, including all I've put into my rehab. Many doctor visits and many hours spent in concussion/brain rehab and vision therapy. I left no stone unturned, educated myself on brain injuries and pushed through the hardest time of my life mentally.
Since the age of 4 I have loved riding and racing, endlessly doing laps around the house, feeling the wind through my hair, the adrenaline rush and a passion for going fast.
A little girl’s dream came true when I won the UCI Mountain Bike World Championship, European Champion, Queen of Crankworx and other major events. Receiving the Crankworx spirit award in 2019 was something that meant a lot to me. The love that I receive from our mountain bike community is overwhelming and I love this sport and the fans.
I am grateful for all the places I traveled to, the friends I’ve made around the world, all the sponsors and people who believed in me and supported me over all these years. From my sponsors in the Netherlands that gave me my first bmx bikes and bought my dad and I a plane ticket to go to the World Championship bmx in Canada because we didn’t have the funds to do so, to all the other sponsors that contributed to me reaching my goals, believed in me and helped me on this amazing journey of racing bikes as a professional athlete. I will always be forever thankful.
There are so many people that have crossed paths with me in my racing career, coaches, trainers, team mates, team managers, mechanics, competitors, friends, and my family who I will always be grateful for. And of course, to my parents who spent countless hours driving me to training and racing, supported me when I decided to move to the US and most importantly always let me be who I am and encouraged me to chase my crazy dreams!
This next chapter has come sooner than expected, but I approach it like I do all things in my life, head on, and 110% in. I have so much to be thankful for and amazing memories that I’ve collected along the way. My passion for the bike industry has not changed, but my role in it has. I look forward to leaving my mark on it outside of racing.
As many of you know, I've always loved passing on my knowledge of racing and cycling to the next generation of kids and other people, and I will continue to do so. There are still many possibilities and opportunities to continue my passion for cycling. You’ll find me outside the tape coaching, doing clinics, motivational speaking, creating content and continuing to work closely with my sponsors.
With that being said.. I’m excited to announce that I will continue my partnership with Specialized for 2022 and beyond. I’m proud to be part of the Specialized family who has supported me as a racer, but mostly as a human being in the industry, whether that be on or off the track. We may not be racing down the hill anymore, but we are moving mountains together!
I am looking forward to seeing everyone at the Sea Otter Classic October 7th through the 10th. I’ll be announcing the kids' races and creating content for GMBN!
Many things to look forward to and in the meantime, I will continue to keep working hard on my TBI recovery and I will keep sharing my road to recovery to bring more awareness to concussions and TBI injuries.
Thank you all for the love and support.
See you on the trails!
/Fellow traveller om the TBI recovery journey
Yup, still riding bikes .
2 years after TBI, my life is 99% back on track. So hard to see a way out when you're buried in it though.
Wishing you all the best Anneke. Thanks for sharing your story.
Anneke can be proud of all the things achieved so far, always having gone all out 110% at everything and that it took the force of chance to stop her biking, even for a little while...
For the rest of us, an opportunity to feel lucky with the health we have and be extra careful on the road, be it behind the wheel of a car, or the handlebars of a bike.
But: super stoked to see you passing on your passion for bikes to the next generation. Take care!
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