One gets the feeling that Evelyn Stevens is probably very good at whatever Evelyn Stevens does. It’s well known she came to racing through business, and took to racing quickly. She recently moved to San Francisco from Boulder, so that, among other things, when she does step away from the sport she’ll have more opportunities.
Stevens doesn’t plan on putting down the bike “for a while, but I like to plan ahead when I do things,” she said in a recent interview. “I realized by having a career before cycling you might need to plan one [after].”
But for now, the 30-year-old is all in on the bike. She hopes to begin her calendar with the early season California races, and then swing into the World Cups in Europe. This offseason, she’s focused more on strength training and will tinker with her program a bit.
“I think for cycling, it’s always important to keep challenging yourself. Try to keep adapting so you’re not just doing the same thing over and over again — so just try to constantly improve,” she said.
Stevens comes to training this season with a fresh perspective on the bicycle; after the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, she traveled to Zambia to participate in a World Bicycle Relief program.
“Ten days, and you get to see first-hand how, what World Bicycle Relief is doing. And it was truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I think for me the bike had shaped my life, and given me so much, and to see really, truly the power of the bicycle in another country. I met this one girl who had to walk 10km to and from school,” Stevens said. “It blew my mind. And she got one of the bicycles. And of course you’re going to be able to focus, you’re going to be able to learn more, if you’re not walking for 2.5 hours on dirt roads.”
The trip and the WBR’s efforts make Stevens appreciate what she’s got — and the fact she can ride a bike for a living — even more.
“Sometimes it’s easy when you’re training, ‘oh, I’ve got to go ride five hours.’ You think that way, but to realize ‘wow, what a privilege it is.’ I think anytime you can do sport for fun it just shows you have a much easier life … gosh, I learned so much from the trip,” she said.
Stevens looks toward this season after a 2012-2013 campaign that, while it had its high moments, took its toll, too. She had a nasty crash in March at the Classica Citta di Padova, breaking teeth and scraping her face. The memory of that isn’t gone.
“It’s still there for sure. I still see the scars on my face, so it’s definitely still fresh,” she said. “But I think that’s just part of cycling. I think every cyclist has some injury, some story. And it makes you aware. It also makes you appreciate the chance to ride and race the bike, and not take things you have for granted. I think the more time I spend in this sport I think the more I realize that when you have good races and when you have a good season you really appreciate it.”
Last season, she won the Parx Philly Classic, the Giro della Trentino, and the time trial at the Amgen Tour of California. She also won a world title with her Specialized-lululemon teammates in the team time trial. She finished fourth and fifth at worlds in the individual time trial and road race, respectively. For the upcoming season, she’s looking toward the big races yet again, though it’s perhaps a bit early to nail down the big goals.
“So hard to talk about big goals when it’s December,” she said. “I think the big thing I learned last year was you can’t — you can have all these goals and plans. Sometimes things just happen and they don’t work out that way.
“But you know. Obviously, the World Cups are really important, and the one-days like Flèche and Flanders … the Giro. Never won it. That’s a big target for me. World championships are still a big target for me,” Stevens said. “Marianne Vos, I think the reason why she’s great, the reason why she’s the best, is because she can deliver on all the big races.”
There’s still plenty of time, however, for Stevens to deliver on the biggest days. She plans on racing through the 2016 Olympics.
“The Olympics are a big target of mine. I experienced 2012, and it kind of makes you hungry to go back and be successful next time around,” she said.