Rider Profile: Avanell Schmitz


This week Avanell Schmitz steps into the spotlight. Avanell is a masters 30-34 national cyclocross champion and hails from Virginia's Tidewater area.

When did you start racing?

I started racing mountain bikes in 1998 when I was 12 years old. My first race was the Misty Mountain Hop Time at Smith Mountain Lake. After taking some time off of racing to pursue a Division 1 field hockey career at Longwood University, my cyclocross career started in 2008, and my road career started in 2010.

Who has been your biggest influence in racing?

There are quite a few people who have influenced my cycling career, I hate to name one without naming others. My sister, Beneline, was the person who got me started racing. I traveled with her and her husband up and down the east coast for several years and I grew up watching how successful she was on the mountain bike.  My parents have both been very supportive of my cycling career: they created my stable of bikes, my dad has worked the pit at UCI races for me, and they’ve driven halfway across the country with my husband and I to support me at Austin CX Nationals. Chris, my husband, is why I started racing cyclocross. Shortly after we started dating he built me my first cross bike, took me to my first cross race, and I was hooked. I was riding a bit before we started dating but because of playing NCAA D1 field hockey I had stopped racing. He helped to get me racing again and encouraged me to get outside of my comfort zone at the local races and head for regional and UCI races.

What is your favorite race (and why)?

There are several races that I’m always disappointed if I have to miss but the Tidewater Mountain Bike Challenge is my favorite course and event. Its on private property about 30 minutes from my house and is one of the most challenging short track courses that I have ridden on. This is also the race that Chris proposed to me while I was on the podium, so it will always be extra special to me. As far as CX races, DCCX has to be one of my favorite races. It’s a well designed course and a very fun event!

What race result are you most proud of?

Last season’s Cyclocross National Championship in Hartford, CT will always be something that I can look back at and take pride in. Not only in being able to wear the stars and stripes jersey, but having set a goal a year before, working towards that goal, and achieving that goal.

Prerace music:

I’ve had essentially the same pre-race playlist for almost 10 years, changing only to add a few songs every now and then. The must play tunes are Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Go-to training ride:

If I’m heading out for a quick road ride I’ll head through the neighborhoods along the James River. Even though I’m in the middle of the city the water makes everything seem so calm. If I’m hitting the dirt, there’s 8 miles of single track right outside my door that I never seem to get tired of.

Favorite piece of Starlight gear:

I don’t care how bad I feel going into a race I put on the road suit and I automatically feel better. It is super comfortable and it looks great!

If you could do any race on Earth what would it be?

I would love to be able to race in a World Cup, maybe Hoogerheide or Namur, rubbing elbows with the best crossers in the world.

Goals for next season:

Winter and spring is going to be spent prepping for the Boston Marathon in April and after that I plan to get on my mountain bike for a few months and make my way to Snowshoe for mountain bike nationals. Once the cyclocross season starts up again I’m going to make a push for some top 10 finishes at some UCI races before setting sights on cyclocross nationals in Louisville. 2018 is going to be a big year!




Stratton Delany