Peddling past humble beginnings
all me crazy, but I’m pretty sure Corina Bigham had a few doubts about her decision to race mountain bikes that winter day in Reno last year.
The 2002 Nevada Union grad was in town along with her Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo team to compete in a Western Coast Cycling Conference event.
She was on the downhill portion of the race when she noticed another competitor hot on her tail.
“I’m a little slower on the downhill, so I let her pass me,” Bigham said.
The other racer gave a “thank- you” nod, then moved ahead, only to crash moments later.
“I kept on going and got in front of her. Then she just ran me over. I had tire tracks on my back,” she said with a smile.
There were some tears and couple of bruises, but Bigham got right back on the bike.
She went on to take the individual championship in three races in the second half of the season, en route to being named the WCCC’s Womens A division champ.
“I learned a lot in the first half of the season, and after Reno I felt more comfortable asking my teammates for help,” she said. “I was just happy some of the learning I did paid off.”
Not bad for a kid who hadn’t competed in a race until her senior year in high school.
Bigham lettered in cross country and track for NU, but was held back by a chronic case of shin splints.
After her sophomore year, one of her track coaches said cycling would be a great way to strengthen her shin muscles, so Bigham signed up for a spin class at local health club.
She went to the 6 a.m. class three days a week for a year before the instructor – and NU mountain bike team coach – Chuck Ross told her it was time to get out of the studio and into the woods.
Intrigued, Bigham signed on.
“I had done lots of indoor cycling, but never outside,” she said. “I guess I was most surprised to find out we had to go over stuff like roots and stumps. I was expecting a dirt road or something. I didn’t know exactly what was involved in it.”
Ready or not, she took to a local trail with Connie Strawser, co-owner of the Tour of Nevada City Bike Shop.
“My first practice, I remember (my feet) being clipped in and trying to stop. I didn’t unclip and I fell right over,” she said. “But it was fun. I had a good time and I decided to keep riding because I wanted to get better at it.”
And that she did.
She was nervous before her first race with the NU girls team, but she came through with a win.
“It was like, ‘Omigosh, I’ve been on a bike maybe 10 times, and now I’m going to be going against all of these really tough girls,'” she said. “Then when I got there, there were four girls and they were all joking about how they really hadn’t ridden a lot, either. So that really calmed me down a little.”
After her auspicious start, Bigham never finished lower than third place the rest of the season.
“I felt like I really accomplished something. It was really fun, especially when I learned something new and (put it to use on the course),” she said.
Her high school career was over in a flash, but Bigham was determined to keep her mountain biking career alive.
“I think the big draw to Cal Poly was that they had a really big mountain bike team. There was no way I was going to stop riding,” she said.
As for why she sticks with mountain biking as her sport of choice, it’s simple.
“I’m not thinking about the universe or anything when I’m riding,” she said. “It’s just when I’m on a bike, I’m having fun.
“Even if I crash.”
Keith Jiron is a sports reporter for The Union. He can be reached via e-mail at
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.