Bringing the best of dirt together was an inspiring task for Life Time Fitness, but they spearheaded the advent of a first-of-its-kind dirt series: the Life Time Grand Prix. Six races: three gravel, and three cross-country mountain bike. At the end of the year, a winner was crowned based on points accrued across the events.
It brought forward Olympian pro mountain bikers. Proven gravel pros. Time trial Olympic gold medalists. And one pro triathlete: Angela Naeth.
Naeth was already dabbling in gravel racing when the series invite came along. She figured, why not? She maintained an insane schedule: training for Ironman, getting in miles of gravel, and bringing a whole new discipline to her repertoire: mountain biking. It was a packed season schedule and an incredible chance for her to round her skillset as an endurance athlete.
The series concluded with the Big Sugar gravel race in Bentonville, AR. Her weekend in the Bluffs resulted in a solid 19th-place finish and earned her 20th place overall through the six races. Not bad for her first full season in gravel AND mountain biking. We cornered her with a few questions about her experience.
Everything was new to you in the Grand Prix; gravel to a smaller degree, but mountain biking to a greater one, as a discipline that was totally new to you. How did you develop as a cyclist through the course of the series and season?
Well, I would say I learned what not to do on a mountain bike and that you sometimes need to just go for it in both gravel and mountain biking! As a triathlete going into these races, I learned that top-end speed is required. And of course, skills on all terrain. I definitely became less apprehensive and more confident in myself each race.
How did you enjoy experiencing new towns, new terrain, and new collectives of the gravel and MTB community?
I absolutely loved it! The community is simply fun. It was a new challenge that brought out joy on two wheels. You really just find a groove in the races, camaraderie, and a ton of support. The best is the finish line of these events. It's a fun sprint to the finish with a massive crowd cheering you on.
You got to tick the box on some bucket list events like the Leadville 100 MTB. Are there any events you plan on coming back to?
100% on all! I hope to race in the series next year. I am for sure looking at Leadville, Unbound, Big Sugar, Crusher in the Tushar, as well as adding Gravel Finland (FNLD GRVL), Steamboat (SBT GRVL), and Gravel Worlds. It's addicting.
It sounds like you’re diving back into triathlon with Ironman Israel before the year’s end. That aside, what does 2023 hold for you? A more targeted race season?
I have a wish list of events I'm looking at, across triathlon and gravel. I would love to get back to Kona in triathlon, but I loved all the stuff I did before. I plan on a packed race schedule, across all the events.