“Hi, I´m Brooke Anderson, I´m from Portland Oregon and I´m 13 years old”

This is not only a name for the future, but a name pushing limits RIGHT NOW. Brooke Anderson, introduced to the world of mountain bikes from a young age and doesn´t know life any different. Mature, intriguing and capable in describing her thoughts and feelings, she invites us in to a glimpse of an idyllic, happy 2-wheeled childhood. Rad but not ridiculous. Passionate but all-round balanced. We could all take a leaf out of Brooke´s book and live better MTB lives because of it.

Brooke´s dad took her and her brother to The Lumberyard, an indoor bike park close to their house and whilst her brother found interest in other things, Brooke got hooked! Dirt jumps, downhill and mountain bikes in general is her jam and her gang is Dad Anderson, best friend Gavin and kids she collects at the North West Cup race series. Riding there more or less twice a week and racing/tripping at weekends means that she is a little aloof from the routine and confines of school activities, although basketball and soccer also enter into her regime. School are cool with that though, allowing her to skip games in favour of bike competitions and so long as she keeps up with her grades (which she does) there is plenty of flexibility and understanding. Well, “understanding” may not be quite accurate...

BA “My school friends haven´t SEEN that much of it. Like, they see my instagram and stuff, so they know that it´s pretty big but they don´t, like, really KNOW what it really is...like there´s all the guys that play basketball and think they´re really cool, but they don´t know that I´m sponsored by a bunch of companies. And it´s like this crazy big sport and they don´t know anything about it, it´s kinda funny...it´s like a secret life.”

AG “Why do you like it so much? Why is biking the one that you´ve become so hooked on?”

BA “Well, it´s like, so fun. And there´s such a good community around it. Like there´s so many nice people and you just meet more and more people everywhere you go...and it just keeps growing so there´s like, more places to go to all the time. You´re never gonna run out of trails to go to.”

Brooke is really making a stamp for herself at the big comps though, getting seen and noticed. With Cranworx becoming a staple of her calender, I asked her to run though the kids side of the world´s biggest mountain biking competition...

BA “So there´s Kidsworx and Cranworx and this year I just did the pumptrack at Kidsworx and then in the actual Cranworx I did Air DH, Speed and Style and Dual Slalom. So I did 3 actual Cranworx events, so those are bigger and there are actual pro´s in them, though obviously I´m in a younger age catagory.”

AG “Yeah, and what´s your favourite? Because you basically did everything…”

BA “I think my favourite is probably Air DH. That trail is so fun, A-line is soooo fast. I´d ridden it so many times at that point I knew, like, every single jump. I didn´t have to worry about it, so I could just go as fast as I wanted. I knew where everything I was so I could just go. And then I, like, totally over-jumped a couple of jumps cos I hadn´t gone that fast normally. So I was in the race and I was like WOAH! This is not normal!”

AG “Do you proper get your race head on then? Does it get into you?”

BA “It´s wierd, because when I was younger I used to get really nervous and now I´m like, well, I honestly didn´t think I was going to place very well at all, because there are girls from all around the world and I´m in the youngest of the ages.”

Brooke competed in the 13-18 age-group, which as she rightly points out, is a big spectrum and at the top of the category are women who can vote for the president of the country, or drive a car. Plus some of them were representing their country, whereas Brooke was just there to give it a go and have fun and surprised herself by placing 5th in a field of over 20 other riders. Which is obviously a great result, although she humbly admitted that her advantage was her familiarity of the trails that she rides all the time.

Seeing how well she stacks up in the female field, I was curious about how she pits against the guys. At 13, is this “a thing” already?

BA “It´s definitely very different, although I only ride with boys basically, those are my competition when I´m not racing. I actually think because of that I have an edge on the other girls...Like they´re so fast and so aggressive and I have to keep up with them...they definitely treat me like one of the boys.”

AG “Are you better than some of them?”

BA “Yah!! Haha! But actually, it depends, most of the boys I race with at the North West Cup also do dirt jumps, so it depends on the discipline.”

Conversation flowed here, muddling through the differences between dirt jumps, downhill, boys, girls, the scene, culture, competition and opportunities at that age, in that part of the world. The conclusion was that a huge number of girls race downhill (fewer than boys, but still) and the level is high and fast. But dirt jumps, it´s a tiny scene, with very few comps and a miniscule number of girls actually riding them.

So, in a world that is not governed by school and can be pretty niche with lots of travel, how does a 13 year old girl find out about comps and events suitable for her?

BA “The woman who runs the Crankworx events invites the girls who used to be in the 10-12 years catagory if she knows we can do them, so I find out a lot from her. And for other events, I know a bunch of women who do dirt jump competitions, so they invite me to those.”

It seems impossible to avoid the interconnection between mountain biking and instagram these days and here is a rider who never experienced life before the invention of social media. With getting on for 3K followers and her pics getting tons of likes, Brooke navigates the balance between getting sick shots for “the Gram” and just riding. Sounds like she´s managed that balance pretty well though, with her drive to learn tricks and achieve coming from a feeling that she just WANTS to do it, no matter what. It´s the achievement and feeling that´s important. However, once the trick is nailed (take tuck no-handers for example) then of course, the all-important video is needed for validity!

Oh, and FYI, this is her fave pic ever by the way. Zoom in on the hand/tyre/mud detail, sooo cool!

And we all gotta admit that one of the best things about social media is that we can get inspiration from other riders all over the world. Asking Brooke who inspires her the most, her answer was Veronique Sandler (all hail), mainly because the two ride the same types of things…”tricks on her trail or DH bike, and whips and stuff. Oh! And her Vision Line!!! That looks so cool!!” (doesn´t it?!).

Brooke is also a huge inspiration herself, although her awareness of it may be a little low. She sometimes has parents of little kids telling her that they like her instagram posts but she seems completely oblivious to the fact that grown-ups will also look to her for inspiration. I know that here at Hopetech HQ there is a certain amount of awe going down.

With the foundations in place and growing capability, the world of mountain biking seems to be solidly coming together for Brooke. So what´s next? She tells us what is on the agenda for 2020…

BA “Definitely Crankworx. I´m going for Air DH again and aiming for podium. Because if I got 5th this time then hopefully some of the older girls will now be in the next category and I can try to get up there, haha...I also want to get a tuck no-hander to an actual dirt jump, I´ve done them on fly-outs but never on an actual jump. I think I´ll try duel-slalom again, but I dunno, that was kinda hard and I didn´t really get it, so maybe I´ll try that one again. And then, what else? Oh yeah! Pumptrack! That´s really fun! I didn´t actually do it for like 2 years because I tried it once and didn´t like it, but then I did it again and it was really fun, so I´ll definitely try that again.”

She then went on to explain the category system at the North West Cup and how she will be racing Cat 1 next season, the category before Pro. Rae´s women´s weekend is on the list and then we both just got pumped talking about the new Women´s Slopestyle Tour. Who, what, where is it? We think it started at Little Big and then had another round at the Big White alongside the men´s slopestyle comp. There was definitely some sort of event with them in Barcelona, Spain too and a stop in Whistler. The Little Big is a definite venue for Brooke to check out, but in a dreamworld, all the stops would be on the agenda. And a visit to Europe to ride.

Talking of dreams, what are Brookes biggest ones for the future? Well, the moment she turns 16 she wants to do the Whip-offs, as she will be allowed to by then. And definitely continue with Slopestyle and Speed and Style. But also just to travel around a bunch of places…

“I want to be Queen of Cranworx, which involves going to all the different countries as well and it sounds really fun because it´s all the events I like.”

And after having seen hints of Redbull Formation on the internet (A bunch of top female riders hitting up the old Rampage line and building stuff to ride with the aim of clearing a path - literally and metaphorically - for future generations of females to become included in the main event) it stands to reason that Brooke could be one of those females who could reap the benefits from the foundations that are starting to be laid.

BA “It sounds really fun, but I dunno, I dunno about the hucking off of cliffs thing...maybe when I´m older but definitely not right now. I think I´m a little bit too small and the impact definitely would not feel good.”

However, if the facilities are being put in place now and the community and culture continues to grow, why could it not be Brooke as one of the first females competing at such a level? And it sounds like competition does hold a place in Brooke´s future, although she doesn´t want to aim to be, say, the fastest downhiller in the world she equally doesn´t envision being a pure content-creator, something a little in-between the two sounds just right.

BA “I don´t mind travelling around and making videos and stuff like that, that would be really cool. But I definitely still want to compete in things like dirt jumps.”

And that´s all from Brooke. Well, in terms of this interview at least. Because there is sooo much more to come from her in the next few decades of her biking life. Ride on, Brooke!!

PICS: Roo Fowler

WORDS: Anna Glowinski