Anneke Beerten Announces Her Retirement After Sustaining Brain Injury In A Car Accident Over A Year Ago

Oct 6, 2021 at 9:02
by Sarah Moore  
Anneke Beerten stoked on her day.


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 when we caught up with her in April of this year, 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!

Anneke

Anneke Beerten snagged the sliver medal in dual slalom only two days after winning the enduro race.

Anneke Beerten making her way through what is sure to be the most blown out section of the course Monkey Hands.
Anneke Beerten is a top 10 qualifier after going on and winning the enduro race earlier in the day.



82 Comments

  • 185 0
 My younger brother recently passed 10 years since getting a TBI from being hit on his bike by a car on the wrong side of the road. These things take time, and it can be really hard to spot the improvements, as they are so gradual. But the improvements do come. He's unrecognisable from when I first saw him in hospital, and if you meet him, you'd never know what had happened. Over time, he's learned that he can get easily tired as the working bits of his brain are having to work double time. And he's much happier having accepted that, especially as he's supported by his loved ones, who sometimes have to remind him to take it easy. So, for anyone in that situation, the brain is an amazing thing, it does heal, but don't get hung up on what you can't do today, and try to look back on what you can do better now. And let your friends and family support you
  • 16 0
 From your first sentence I thought you were saying "he passed" like "he died from his TBI 10 years later" but then I realized it was a success story. Sheesh man, word choice. Wink Good to hear your brother is doing well!
  • 3 0
 @rickybobby18: oh yeah! Not sure what word would be better, but you're right, that probably wasn't the right one...
  • 88 0
 Congrats Anneke on an amazing career. It's been fun watching and cheering for you over the years. Good luck on your continued recovery.
  • 66 1
 Hey Anneke, chin up, life 2.0 comes and it comes with no pressure. Wish you all the best!
/Fellow traveller om the TBI recovery journey
  • 17 0
 Anneke, I have tremendous admiration for your grace and powerful words in sharing what must be a most painful decision. I wish you the very, very best going forward, from another fellow traveler in TBI recovery.
  • 3 0
 Life 2.0 or reset is indeed a good mindset, it’s not always linear.
  • 46 0
 Congratulations Anneke and keep fighting! Kudos to Specialized and other brands who continue to support injured athletes even after ‘retirement’. They really owe it to their riders.
  • 6 0
 this should have more upvotes, just sayin.
  • 42 0
 Tough call I'm sure. Here's to hoping that Riding can become a therapeutic activity and fall back into the joy and love of riding which got her interested in the beginning. a step back to get forward. See you on the trails you bet.
  • 37 0
 I do not ussually have favourites in life, but Anneke is my all time favourite rider, hands down. Such a legend, yet so humble and nice. What a carreer, what a human!
  • 34 0
 I was hit by a car riding my road bike a few weeks ago. Had a good concussion and broke a few bones. Tell you what its not fun trying to live your day to day life when you have crippling headaches and random bouts of vertigo.
  • 23 0
 Get well soon, dude!
  • 4 0
 Wishing you a quick and properly full recovery!
  • 2 0
 Sorry dude. Hope you’re able to heal up quickly. Give it time.
  • 30 0
 I just sustained a TBI from someone who ran a red last month. Its going to be a long recovery, its very hard, thanks for posting this
  • 25 0
 Gutted to hear this, always had respect for Anneke. I'm 11 years into the recovery for my TBI. I was cycling home from work and got side swiped by a car, sent me head first into a concrete pillar. It was really rough, I struggled to even speak for weeks, I had to be fed, washed and all that stuff for months, as well as re-learning how to walk. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. I can't remember months of it, and bits I can we're like being awake in someone else's body, I couldn't use it to do anything. I'm generally fine now although my personality has changed a lot and I now suffer from pretty bad social anxiety and I struggle to make or maintain relationships with people. All in all, it's robbed my life of so much joy and happiness. Not a great thing to happen to anyone. Most people that find out about it have never even heard of it, and most that have don't realise how bad it can be and the ways it effects your mind and personalityad well as your physical health. It's crazy that something which can completely change a person's life and who they are as a person is so unknown. I'm glad some awareness is being spread. I guess Anneke won't read these comments but I hope she surrounds herself with people that love her. Take it slow and easy, rushing early on just causes more problems later. Recovery is slow and hard won but she's tough as anything, she can do it.
  • 33 1
 Thank you for sharing your story. Reading other peoples stories is inspiring and knowing i'm not the only one going through this difficult injury. I can relate to everything you went through and I wish you all my best. I hope you can accept the new you and keep making improvements. Keep at it! All my best.
  • 7 0
 @annekebeerten: keep fighting. It will get better. Sending good thoughts your way
  • 2 0
 @annekebeerten: You may not remember meeting me but we shared a few conversations during our shuttle van rides at the first ever Crankworx Rotorua EWS practices, I was a friend of Curtis Keen from Hawaii who helped him while he was training in Oahu. Anyhow, you have had an awesome career and a great impact on this sport. When my daughter started racing, I showed her some of your videos competing and training preparations that helped get you to the top of the sport. She is now 14 and still enjoys racing and riding her mountain bike these days when it's so easy for them to get distracted by all of the other things in life. Furthermore, I have had several major concussions from my contact sports and crazy lifestyle and can relate to the need of taking care of oneself. Several years ago, I have fully invested into a CTE preventative regimen to help me with my past brain injuries and would love to share it if you have any interest. Otherwise, I wish you the very best and look forward to your continued influence to this sport and up and coming athletes. KP
  • 19 0
 I'm so glad to hear she'll be coaching and doing motivational camps and other programs like this for riders! She has so much to offer and is truly inspiring for riders and can really help a lot of people! Best of luck on the next chapter Anneke!!
  • 16 0
 Sucks. Been rooting for her ever since she left B1 and started as a privateer. Never thought she would be this successful, let alone have her career finished like this. I wasn't aware of the concussion until she wasn't invited to a slalom event at the Strait Acres last year and Rachel mentioned it was because of a concussion sustained in a car incident. What has always impressed me is how Anneke has managed to shape the world around her to make it a better fit. Making it work as a privateer is impressive, doing so several times (getting on and off big teams) even more so. Even when 4X was removed from the World Cup calendar, she seemed determined to keep racing on two wheels hence even dabbled in XC. I have all confidence she'll make this work out too and be an inspiration for the next generation.
  • 5 0
 Well said Vinay, and good to see you are still around, here in the depths of bike forums!
  • 1 0
 @Capable: Cheers mate! And now I'm wondering, do we know each other?
  • 1 0
 @vinay: From back in the adrenaline message boards days I guess! I especially remember you making a beginner's bike explanation document.
  • 1 0
 @Capable: Ah yeah, Adrenalin Sports. I recall I happened to be servicing my local bike shop (Bike2Build in Vlaardingen) after closing hours and Irmo and Jorrit were there negotiating advertisement space on their new Andrenalin Sports website. I've still got their decals on some of my stuff (including the one of the burning A on my BMX).

Yup, still riding bikes Smile .
  • 15 0
 Hi Anneke, ik heb veel respect voor jouw beslissing. Gefeliciteerd met je grootse carriere en veel geluk voor de toekomst
  • 11 0
 Given so many stories of getting hit by a driver in these comments... what can be done to disincentivize and punish the stupid behavior we see all over the roads? An elite athlete's career ruined, by a worthless POS who couldn't bother to follow the rules.
  • 8 0
 I think I saw her at Snowshoe a few week ago and I meant to go over and thank her for providing so much entertainment over the years. I loved the era of women's 4x the Anneke raced in. It was pretty clear that not all the women were best of friends and the animosity came through in highly competitive racing. Throw in Warner's Freecaster commentary and you had some must watch TV.
  • 8 0
 Props to specialized for continuing her sponsorship. Elite racers put their bodies through so much that they can't always continue racing, so it's nice to see companies continue to support them after all they do for these riders do for their teams.
  • 4 0
 Agree. Great work Specialized.

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.
  • 8 0
 I’m just struggling with the same injury. Also problems with double vision after crashing and hitting my head 3 months ago. But damn, flight was worth falling. All the best Anneke!!!
  • 6 0
 I'm almost eight years out from my TBI. First two years were really hard. I think the vestibular therapy worked, but it was hard to do every day. Everything was hard. But I feel pretty good now. Doc said one more concussion could be it, but I still go ride, just nothing extreme.
  • 10 0
 Respect.
  • 5 0
 I will be thinking of you at the Sea Otter this weekend and I will always remember standing behind you in line there many years back to get our number plates and thinking "huh - she's a little shorter than I thought" but knowing that you were a GIANT among racers and a true champion. Best wishes for a full recovery - you have our full support!
  • 5 0
 Such a great career, quite some dangers in it too. Queen of Crankwork, the spirit of crankwork even and then be taken out by a chance accident outside of the sport!

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.

Ride on!
  • 5 0
 When you were out there in the zone and thinking only of performing you were giving us all so much...you have done so much for the sport and for women's cycling...just look at all the female talent coming up though the system. In giving your all you have learned to an incredible level as well as performed at in incredible level...you don't give that up...it's yours to keep...so there is a huge store of benefit to give to other athletes...this must be so, so disappointing...but stick in there....there are many ways to use that store you have, in promoting the sport (especially to young women), in coaching, in ambassador work for your nation or for the companies you worked with. TBI is terrible, but over time the brain does amazing things to put things right - my own TBI repaired in bursts...nothing for ages....then wham....a whole load of function back. Let's hope that happens too. Against all prognoses my brother's vision kept repairing years after a retinal separation...bang...a whole new area of vision back unexpectedly every few months and years. Indeed let's hope. And this may be a door to a whole new set of roles in the sport.....very best for the work with GMBN (and talk to Cathro too....)
  • 5 0
 PSA. mushrooms and concussions don't mix. Took a mild dose at a party 2 months post mild concussion. Control alt delete situation. Was out for 5 min. Complete sober upon awakening. Just spreading the word about something not talked about enough.
  • 4 0
 All I can say Anneke is; “monumental respect”. You’re an incredible and unique racer, and your recovery has been amazing. I hope we see you on these pages and other MTB or BMX OR Instagram posts as they have been and continue to be truly inspiring. Moreover you wicked spirit and enthusiasm will be missed if you don’tSmile
  • 4 0
 She is such a champion, its awful what she is going through. With time, she will be living life to the fullest again. I hope the recovery process goes smooth and she can get back to riding and enjoying her life. Bad drivers should be reamed up the arse with a rusty stake.
  • 4 0
 tough decision , much respect and kudos to what you achieved Anneke. much love from bike lover and for the many years where you bring smile to our community. all the best for next chapter
  • 4 0
 Talk about a tough call, so glad she chose to look after her health. All the best in your recovery Anneke. Thanks for all the years of amazing racing, you'll always be a legend!
  • 5 0
 True legend of our sport and I’m happy she is staying involved. Good luck in your next chapter of biking and you can be proud of chapter 1. All the best!
  • 3 0
 I still struggle with feeling like life is over almost 5 years out from getting my TBI while working in the entertainment industry. The amount of my life, physicality, money, time, and personal connection that just evaporated still depresses me. Yes it gets better but so slowly for me. I can still ride my bike, but I don't know if. I will ever feel the same. I feel for her loosing this piece of herself.
  • 5 0
 This sucks, but on or off the bike, you will always be an inspiration and spread a positive vibe! Get well.
  • 4 0
 Congrats on an incredible career Anneke. You have achieved more than most of us could dream of! Wishing you sucess in your new adventures
  • 3 0
 Terrible way for any athlete to have to end their career, but it's the 100% correct decision. Tough luck for Anneke, but really looking forward to her hopefully being a permanent part of the GMBN team. All the best!
  • 4 0
 Met her once or twice and she seemed super cool. Bummer to see her not racing and still struggling to recover. Good on Spech for sticking with her.
  • 2 0
 I started 'late' with MTB, heard from Anneke here on Pinkbike. It's a shame I had not heard of her before as a dutchie. But I'm glad I 've been following her on Insta since a while now. Nothing but respect. I'm sure a great person like Anneke will keep adding to the scene and inspire and teach young riders. Those joy sparked eyes die hard...even if your pro carreer might be over...that spark is something forever! Keep inspiring, keep going! You got this.
  • 2 0
 Anneke you have inspired so many people during your riding career and you have been a gentle hero that has brought so much fun and exitment to the women racing scene. I wish you all the needed strenght so concure your daily struggle, to overcome the sometimes hard feelings during a recovery period. Be aware that we can not help you as we did before, but you should always hear our fan cheering and singing that has pushed you over countless hills, whenever you need our support now. Get well and keep on fighting back, you deserve all the love you can get.
  • 2 0
 A word to all who are suffering from TBI and associated brain trauma/disfunction. Hang in there. It may seem like there is nothing left to live for. It may seem like nothing will ever be the same. It may seem like life is so hard and everything just sucks. Just hang in there. Be patient. It takes time. A lot of time. But it gets better. Trust me. Just hang in there. You WILL get better. Peace Out.
  • 3 2
 Brain injuries are so rough. You can go through life with a leg injury and just limp along, you can get proficient at using a hand that is missing a finger but you cannot adapt to a damaged brain. I sincerely hope she sees progress and is able to get back to a mostly normal life.
  • 5 0
 Get well Anneke and wish you all the best!
  • 5 0
 Love, respect and well wishes to you A.B.
  • 5 0
 I hope she heals well. Best wishes.
  • 4 0
 You will always be a champion, Anneke. Much respect and all the best for your recovery and future goals.
  • 4 0
 Much respect and admiration for you Miss Beerten. Your an inspiration to our sport!
  • 2 0
 Best wishes on your new life. The point in your life when you have to give up something you love so much due to physcial issues is heart braking and soul crushing. I've been through it too and it sucks.
  • 2 0
 Brave decision, Anneke. Was devastated when I read the post on your accident and recovery being so hard and slow.
But: super stoked to see you passing on your passion for bikes to the next generation. Take care!
  • 2 0
 What a Legend! Thank you for the amazing races, battles and win . I hope you stay close and we see you around in the game . ANNEKE & TRACEY in the comments at Redbull tv . That would be sweeeeeet .
  • 3 0
 The way I worded my comment makes it seem like it's not already therapeutic. lol.
  • 2 0
 Super sorry to hear about your experience. I'm sure you've tried craniosacral and myofascial release, but if not I can't recommend highly enough!!
  • 3 0
 Much love and respect to Anneke! Thank you for your contributions to furthering women in mtb!
  • 4 0
 Good luck with the next adventure
  • 4 0
 Let me guess... Driver got off scott free.
  • 2 0
 All respect AB for making the tough but correct call for the long term. Good on her sponsor for the support. Hang in there and keep pushing (gently).
  • 3 0
 Sad way to retire, all the best!
  • 3 0
 all the best, you have given so much to the sport and continue too.
  • 2 0
 Good call Anneke!! Got to take care of your brain! We only have one, and it's not like breaking a collar bone. Be well!
  • 2 0
 thank you for everything you gave and continue to support to our love of 2 wheels
  • 2 0
 Life is precious indeed...Still parents sans helmets riding with their kids, skaters, BMXer's etc. WTF!!!
  • 3 0
 A.b. has always been an inspiration. Much respect.
  • 1 0
 Scary to see how things can get mad in a blink of an eye. Hold on tight and enjoy our new challenges Anneke. Keep your freshness and positive attitude.
  • 1 0
 Hi Anneke veel geluk toegewenst met je herstel en je toekomst! Hoofd omhoog borst vooruit, gaat goed komen met je. Van een k....rpatient die niet opgeeft.
  • 1 0
 Ik heb de 4X wedstrijden altijd met plezier op freecaster gevolgd. En Damn wat een eindbaas ben je Anneke. Zowel op de fiets als ernaast. Succes!!!
  • 1 0
 Always been a big fan of Anneke. Hope you make a full recovery in time and can carry on doing what you love, even if it isn't as a pro any more.
  • 1 0
 Anneke, you are a consummate professional and absolute champion. I wish you the best and know you will inspire the next generation.
  • 2 2
 The sweetest woman you'll ever meet. Great career and always competitive in any type of race. Good luck to you Anneke and God bless you.
  • 2 0
 Sounds like a real struggle. Poor girl. Let's hope she can heal somewhat.
  • 2 0
 All the best to you Anneke!
  • 2 0
 Absolute legend.

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