Mandi Pearl

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“While I was growing up, I always had bikes in my life. What started as a means of transportation and freedom, turned into me begging my father at 13 years old to buy me a DK Six Pack. That lasted a few years until I realized boys were not interested in girls with scabs on their arms.

“Fast forward to 2006 when I met James and I finally pulled my BMX bike out of the shed. You know that saying “you never forget how to ride a bike?” Well it’s not true. The fun nights riding around Princeton on our bikes changed when James bought his first SS MTB. He started riding the trails with his friends so (out of jealousy) I went to my LBS and ordered my first real MTB, a Specialized Myka.

“After my first two rides it became apparent that I did not know how to use gears properly. So I converted it to a SS, the only kind of bike I’ve known. Not having gears forced me to ride differently, and I think that’s where my bike handling skills came from. I chased around the boys for a few years and then I entered into my first race. I was hooked.

“Looking back to where I started, I would have never thought I’d be where I am right now. What started off as a means for transportation, ended up becoming a lifestyle.”

Height: 4’11”

December Weight: “103 lbs.”

Race Weight: “100 lbs.”

Birthdate: “August 4, 1987.”

Childhood Heroes: “Pippi Longstocking.”

Hobbies and Interests: “Cars, Hockey, People watching.”

Favorite Movies:National Lampoon’s Vacation, The Breakfast Club, Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Musical Tastes: “From Rage Against the Machine, to Bob Marley, to Johnny Cash. I’m all over the place. But I definitely don’t like DMB.”

Favorite TV Shows: Cops, Seinfeld, Modern Family.

Favorite Meal: “Toss up between my BLT’s and my lemon pepper chicken thighs.”

Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal with blueberries and agave.”

Favorite Pre-Race Meal: “Two eggs, toast, & a cup of coffee. Or some whole wheat pancakes.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Mint Chocolate Chip.”

Childhood Dream: “To have a twin.”

First Car: “‘01 Silver Acura Integra GSR. My dad didn’t understand why I had to get the one with the R on the end when the GS model was so much cheaper. Dads. I bought the car without test driving it (I was 16) and not knowing how to drive stick. I fell into the car scene rather quickly and met James while illegal street racing in Edison. Without that car I wouldn’t even be a cyclist. Crazy how life works.”

First Job: “Sweeping floors at my mom’s salon to save for a car.”

Favorite Vacation Spot: “Wellfleet, MA in Cape Cod.”

Pre-Race Feeling: “My ADHD starts kicking in and my right leg shakes like a dog getting a belly rub.”

Early Racing Memory: “Crying while pushing my bike up every hill during my first race at LM. I thought I would never race again… and then I crossed the finish line. I was hooked.”

Funny Racing Memory: “My first Cat 1 MTB race I vomited on myself and then looked around to see if anyone saw. Thankfully I was in the front.”

Greatest Racing Moment: “My first CX win at Nittany. Day 1 I sort of sat in the shadows and Ken told me I need to just go for it, who cares what happens. So Day 2 I went for it, and nobody caught me. That’s the moment I realized what I was capable of, and how your mind can hold you back.”

Most Painful Moment In Life: “When James called me to tell me one of our best friends passed away in his sleep. I’ll never forget that moment.”

Worst Injury from Racing: “I sprained my wrist while racing at Jungle. I remember yelling to the medics that I was pretty sure my hand was fractured. I was in a soft cast for a few weeks and it was right before we went away on vacation. Luckily that’s the worst that has happened. Knock on wood.”

Closest Racing Friends: “My husband? Does he count?”

Funniest Racer: “Pearl, the Barbossa & DeFalco combo, and David Carson. He says some pretty borderline stuff and then he goes out to serve and protect us. I appreciate that. Even though he won’t let me ride in his patrol car.”

Favorite Race: MTB: “Fair Hill.”

Embarrassing Racing Memory: “Everything embarrassing becomes funny so nothing terrible yet.”

Toughest Competitors: “Everyone who shows up to race. You never who is going to have the ride of their life that day.”

Favorite Athletes to Watch: “Hockey players. 100% heart. They’ll put their face in front of the puck to save a goal. You just don’t see that sort of dedication in other sports.”

Qualities You Most Admire in People: “Selflessness, humbleness, honesty.”

What You Love Most About Riding Your Bicycle: “It’s the one time that I can be completely alone with my thoughts.”

Photo Credit: Luke Kelly