Name: Megan Baxter 

Age: 22    Occupation: Student/Barista

Bikes: Orbea Orca, Cannondale Super X, Cannondale Scalpel, Giant Anthem X-29er

Q: When and how did you discover cycling?

A: I discovered cycling through my parents and traveling with them to various races. I have been going to races with my parents on and off since I was eighteen months old. My dad has always loved riding hard gravel loops on his cross bike. Riding and racing my cross bike was my first love in cycling. After cyclocross, I fell in love with crit racing. I did not start racing bikes until late in middle school and was not very serious about racing until probably about sophomore year of high school. I’ve always used my cross bike as a gravel bike because I love the comfort and the feel of the bumps through this bike. Gravel has always been something that has come from a spot of comfort and fun with my family. I have never felt that I discovered cycling it was more of something that I would always escape to. I would leave all my childhood bullies on Friday and go to the welcoming arms of cold fall mornings to race cross or ride gravel. No matter what I am doing or who I am riding for it feels like home.

Q: Has your inspiration to ride changed since then, and what is it now?

A: My riding inspiration has changed throughout the years. At first my inspiration were Sven Nys and Tom Boone; however, I have always loved the local scene in North Carolina. I always want to be stronger and better than I was a couple of months ago. This always makes me want to keep pushing forward. I feel that I do not have to look for inspiration anymore that I am doing a great job inspiring myself.

Q: How would you define your style of gravel riding?

A: My style of gravel riding is described as just time that I sit down and suffer on my parents wheels at first. Now my style is more about floating across the descent and rolling hard across the climbs. I have always been really solid with pacing and it has started to show through in my cycling more and more. 

Q: Describe an ideal day on the bike.

A: One of the most ideal days on the bike for me would be a chill day climbing either in the Jefferson National Park or in the Blue Ridge due to a lack of cars and stressors on the roads. The roads are hard to ride on but the views are worth going up the mountain for. The lack of dogs or people make it feel like an exotic trip that Thomas Jefferson would have ridden his horse on. 

Q: What are some notable trips you’ve done to enjoy cycling?

A: My most enjoyable trips have been riding mountain bikes from Zion to Bryce National Parks in Utah. Riding from Zion to Bryce National Park was amazing to see the birth and all the outshoots of the Virgin River in Utah. The ride was all about visiting two national parks and a break from racing crits. The park was all about traveling and getting to ride somewhere new. This trip was all about spending time on the bike and having fun.

Q: You’re a Barnstormer Chapter Leader. What does that entail, and is there anything you hope to help other riders find within the club?

 A: I hope to have lots of fun and going riding with a bunch of new fun people. I am looking for my next chapter after this last season at Union College in Kentucky on both the mountain and cyclocross bike.

Q: Everyone who rides has something unique to offer. Do you know what you might offer, in that regard?

A: I have never really thought about what I offer for cycling. I typically think about being honest and this sport is a savage, who does not care who you are. However, recently I think of cycling is just an outlet for many people who view it differently. Cycling is more than just a sport of savagery its a safe space for many people. Cycling is welcoming to both the young and old. Cycling has been a home a space for me since I was little running from my bullies and chasing down various competitors both physically and mentally. 

Q: What role does cycling play in your current lifestyle?

A: Cycling currently plays many roles in my life, somehow cycling finds away into every part of my life. Cycling is constantly changing its role in my lifestyle. I am finishing up my collegiate career on both the mountain bikes and cyclocross bike in December with Union College in Kentucky. This will be my fourth year with the team and on the mountain bike racing it.  

One thing I have learned is that I always want to come back to riding my cross bike on gravel roads through Jefferson National Forest and watching the trout streams flow down through the valleys.