Anita Dilles has come a long way since her first bike ride as an adventurous six year old on a pink Huffy. On that day, she decided to break in a new pair of shoes and a new bike when her laces got caught in the wheel. Dilles recalls that first bike ride, which ended with a crash and a tumble into a mud puddle.
Anita Dilles has come a long way since her first bike ride as an adventurous six year old on a pink Huffy.
On that day, she decided to break in a new pair of shoes and a new bike when her laces got caught in the wheel. Dilles recalls that first bike ride, which ended with a crash and a tumble into a mud puddle.
“It ended up pretty disastrously,” Dilles recalled. “It wasn’t a great start with bikes.”
Fresh off a successful trip to the U.S. Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Fort Collins, Colo. as the only qualifier from Portland State, Dilles, a 23-year-old junior, has seen herself go from novice to a force to be reckoned with on two wheels.
Dilles’ path to the collegiate championships was the culmination of a cross-country cycling journey that began in Corvallis, where Dilles attended high school.
Upon graduation she headed to Chicago before eventually returning to Oregon where she competed as a member of the University of Oregon cycling team. All of this before landing at Portland State, where she is majoring in liberal arts.
In her first appearance at the National championship, Dilles held her own against some the fastest riders from across the country, which included a field of experienced professional and collegiate racers.
In the grueling 50.6 mile road course, Dilles finished a respectable 37th of the 80 female competitors. Dilles followed the difficult road race by placing 24th out of the 60 participants in a demanding Criterium. Held on a short course (usually less than five kilometers), and often run on closed-off city center streets, the Criterium ran through downtown Fort Collins.
“It didn’t go as I wanted it to,” Dilles said. “I was hoping to do a little bit better. Everyone tells me I did great, but I was expecting to get in the top third [of the field].”
Dilles said she believed she could have faired a little better at the national event if she had managed her season better.
“I took a week off because I was feeling a little over trained,” she said. “I had done nine race weekends in a row, which you don’t typically do, but I didn’t know any better. I was having fun and got a little over-enthusiastic perhaps.”
Dilles’ passion for cycling didn’t come on that fateful first ride when she scuffed her knees and scraped the paint on her new bike, but was cultivated as an interest after moving to Chicago.
Shortly after moving to the Windy City, Dilles became friends with a girl, who was shocked to find out that Dilles didn’t own a bike. Her new friend quickly helped her remedy the situation and Dilles ended up getting a women’s Schwinn from a local bike shop.
While at the shop she spotted a few other road bikes that caught her eye as, well as a guy that worked in the shop, who Dilles admits was pretty cute.
“I frequented the bike shop pretty regularly,” she explained. “He invited me to a cycle-cross race. I went out and watched him race and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that looks like so much fun.'”
Dilles admitted that she struggled in her first ever foray into racing. Her first bike race was in the summer of 2004, at a track race in Kenosha, Wis.
“I got dead last. I probably got lapped,” Dilles said. “It didn’t hinder me though, I still pushed forward.”
After a season of racing in Chicago, she moved back to Oregon and joined the University of Oregon Cycling team. In the spring of 2006, she competed in her first season of road racing in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference.
Women’s collegiate cycling has two different levels of skill: “A” category and “B” category. The “B” category is for beginners and newcomers to the sport, while the “A” category is for experienced cyclists.
While riding in the “B” group for her first season, Dilles found her groove and captured the overall title for her level. After her success she decided she was ready to make the jump to the next level of competition.
Last fall Dilles transferred to Portland State and joined the cycling team. In her first season as a participant in the Women’s “A” field, she dominated the entire season and took first place overall in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference.
“I tend to become a little bit more serious on my bike. I have to remind myself to lighten up,” Dilles said of her competitive drive.
“I caught myself in the middle of the season counting points and getting way to serious about it. I have to remember to smile.”
Dilles plans on graduating next spring and applying to the nursing program at the University of Portland. Although the NWCC season has drawn to a close, Dilles stays active in racing with a local Portland Cycling team, the Gentle Lovers.
“We do crazy antics at races.” Dilles said. “It’s a fun team. It’s really all about having fun. If you’re not having fun you should do something else.”