Leigh Donovan is a World Downhill Champion and one of the most decorated slalom and downhill racers in American history. She was the last American woman to win the world championships in downhill, and she’s also founder and instructor of the Women’s Mountain Bike Camp, and should probably be a motivational speaker.
“I’m definitely not a big risk-taker, it’s not my thing, she said. I never imagined that I would be some downhill mountain biker and racer because that would never have been attractive to me…It didn’t seem like something that was my path, but I just happened across it. I wasn’t even aware of what my abilities were until I started mountain biking. I think sometimes we just don’t know what we’re capable of until we put ourselves out there. You’ve got to say, ‘Hey, why not?’”
She raced BMX bikes until she turned 18, then went off to college. One of her neighbors kept nagging her to try mountain biking. The neighbor painted mountain bikes and had plenty lying around for her to try. Then she went to Mammoth to watch her first downhill race, “And I thought there’s no way I’m going to do stuff like that. It’s just not my style. A year later I was in my first downhill race in Mammoth. That’s why I have a special tie with Mammoth. It’s where my life started in 1992.
“It’s interesting how life happens that way, how people see things in you that maybe you don’t see in yourself. We all want to experience ourselves as better people and I guess I got lucky,” Donovan said.
The Women’s Mountain Bike Camp scheduled for July 20-23 in Mammoth is about more than helping women become better riders, “The class is really about women finding what they’re made of, and becoming better at something they love. And they will leave more confident and capable, they’re going to leave better in so many ways.”