By VeloNews Interactive
Schwinn downhiller Leigh Donovan has announced she’ll retire from mountain bike racing after the 2001 season.
The 29-year-old Donovan began her career in BMX, where she became a national champion. She started racing mountain bikes in 1992, and by ’93 had turned pro, signing with Team Iron Horse. In 1995, then with Mongoose, Donovan became the only person to ever win the U.S. downhill series, the U.S. slalom series and the downhill world championship.
For her career Donovan has 14 NORBA dual slalom wins, nine NORBA downhill wins, and three World Cup wins. Last year she was third in both the World Cup downhill and dual series, third in the NORBA dual slalom series, and sixth in the NORBA downhill series.
“I have had the best time in my nine years as a pro, and I have been so lucky,” Donovan said in a press release. “I was just saying how I can not believe that to this day bike parts and accessories just show up at my house.
“I don’t have a specific reason (for retiring),” she continued. “I still love getting into the start gate. I still want to win. I still get nervous. I still love the fans. I still love the industry people. I still like sitting on a airplane headed to outrageous places. But something inside is telling me, ‘this is it.'”
Donovan added that she isn’t sure what she will do after racing. This offseason she worked part-time at a flower shop.
“It was my favorite store to shop at, then one day I saw a sign out front for help,” she said “I applied and they hired me. Now I have been tossing around the idea of owning my own shop.”
For now though, there is one more season of mountain biking to take care of. “My coach has me training way too hard to think about anything else,” she said.
Donovan will open her season at this week’s Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California.