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Hannah Otto's 2023 Season:

A Year of Triumphs and Trials

Photography: Piper Albrecht

A Year of Triumphs and Trials: Reflections on the 2023 Racing Season

As the wheels slowed to a stop, and the dust settled, professional mountain biker Hannah Otto found herself reflecting on a whirlwind year of triumphs, challenges and unexpected turns. The 2023 racing season was a rollercoaster of emotions, taking her through 27 races across 6 countries and 8 states. 

Racing Highlights: Podiums, Win and the Unforeseen

Hannah’s 2023 season featured a demanding schedule of 27 races, a testament to her unwavering passion for the sport. Eleven podium finishes marked her success, with each race presenting its own set of unique challenges. From the tropical landscapes of Puerto Rico to the demanding trails of Nove Mesto, Leogang and Lenzerheide World Cups, Hannah navigated the diverse terrains with determination and skill. 

Leadville - Managing Expectations and Perseverance:

One of the early challenges was defending her title at Leadville. As the 2022 champion, the pressure was palpable. At the halfway point, she found herself in 13th place, but patience proved to be a virtue. Battling through the grueling course, she finished 4th, beating her winning time from the previous year by 5 minutes. The experience taught her the importance of focusing on the process rather than fixating on outcomes. 

Read more about Leadville in Hannah’s blog. Here

Marathon World Cup Win - A Dream Come True:

A pivotal moment in the season was the Marathon World Cup win. This unexpected triumph became the highlight of Hannah’s year, showcasing her adaptability and determination. The muddy race, just four days after the Marathon National Championship, pushed her to her limits. The victory, unplanned at the start of the year, added a layer of sweetness to an already remarkable season. 

Explore Hannah’s insights on the Marathon World Cup win in her blog. Here

Big Sugar - A Test of Grit and Tenacity:

While not every race ended in victory, each one offered a lesson. Big Sugar, the Grand Prix finale, tested Hannah’s resolve. A flat tire 20 miles into the race and a wrong turn threatened to derail her performance. Despite setbacks, her determination shone through. Riding on an insert for 15 miles and pushing to the limit, Hannah’s never-give-up attitude allowed her to secure a 9th place finish in the overall Grand Prix by a mere 2 points. Two points she would not have had if she had given into the challenges. 

Experience the challenges of Big Sugar in Hannah’s blog. Here

La Ruta - For the Love of Racing:

Closing the season with the La Ruta MTB Stage Race, Hannah showcased her enduring love for the sport. The decision to extend her season for one of the toughest races was driven by a desire to explore new landscapes and push her own limits. Three days of racing from the Caribbean to the Pacific across Costa Rica encapsulated the essence of her passion for the bike as a tool for exploration. 

 Explore La Ruta Stage Race with Hannah in her blog. Here

Off-the-Bike Triumphs and Contributions

Beyond the racecourse, Hannah's impact resonated off the bike. A dynamic ambassador and advocate for mountain biking, she engaged in various activities, including:
  • Podcast Guest: Sharing her insights and experiences, Hannah contributed to the community through podcast appearances. Including Pivot’s Podcast! You can find that episode here: Getting to Know Hannah Otto
  • Group Rides: Leading group rides, Hannah connected with fellow riders, fostering a sense of community. 
  • NICA Presentations: Hannah’s involvement in the National Interscholastic Cycling Association included presentations, inspiring young riders. 
  • Little Bellas Pro Ambassador: As a mentor for young girls through Little Bellas, Hannah played a vital role in empowering the next generation of cyclists. 
  • NICA Alumni Network: As a founding member, Hannah contributed to the development and support of NICA alumni, emphasizing the lifelong nature of cycling. 

Lessons Learned

Reflecting on the season, Hannah acknowledged the highs and lows, emphasizing the importance of sharing both aspects of her journey. The decision to maintain a packed racing calendar, spanning various race formats and terrains, stemmed from her deep love for the sport. The multitude of experiences allowed her to explore all facets of mountain biking, helping to identify areas for future focus. 

The season unveiled lessons in patience and persistence, as Hannah raced through different continents and terrains. Managing the physical and mental demands required adaptability and quick decision-making.  

Looking Inward and Focusing on Personal Growth

Hannah’s approach to racing evolved, emphasizing the importance of looking inward. In a field where comparisons are inherent, she found her secret weapon in focusing on her own experience. The bike, for her, is not just a tool for competition but a means to discover personal capabilities and constantly improve. As she enters the off-season, Hannah sets higher expectations for herself, driven by the goal of personal improvement rather than comparing herself with competitors. 

The Future: Endless Possibilities and Continuing Exploration

Excitement radiates from Hannah as she contemplates the future of her racing career.

The endless possibilities, both on and off the bike, fuel the passion. Her desire to leave a positive impact on the cycling community, coupled with an unyielding love for exploration, positions her as a trailblazer in the sport. 

Hannah Otto’s 2023 racing season is a testament to her resilience, passion and unwavering commitment to the sport she loves. As she continues to push boundaries, both in competition and community engagement, her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring and seasoned cyclists alike. The next chapter in her racing career holds the promise of new challenges, victories and the continued exploration of the vast and exhilarating world of mountain biking. We look forward to seeing what 2024 has in store for Hannah!