“I got into cycling because of swimming,” explains Felt Bicycles’ Amanda “Panda” Nauman.
Felt Bicycles’ project manager was recruited to Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey for swimming as she pursued her degree in engineering. However, Amanda had been swimming since she was six years old and was facing burn out. Fortunately, some of her swimming teammates were starting a triathlon team.
“Freshman year I came home and told my dad, who already had a Felt, and he said ‘let’s get a Felt.’ ” Two weeks later Amanda was lined up at her first triathlon. She loved the experience and her cycling career began.
As a lifetime athlete, Amanda started to put her focus on triathlons but since she owned a road bike she decided to try road racing as well.
“I had a road bike so I figured why not?”
In her senior year at Stevens, Amanda submitted her resume to Felt. Soon she was interning. When Amanda graduated with her Masters degree she became a full-time Felt employee.
Being a serious athlete requires a chunk of time to train. Also requiring a chunk of time is being Felt’s project manager. However, she is able to take a longer lunch to get those training hours and makes them up by staying late.
“I’m definitely lucky in that sense. Some companies don’t allow that.”
The past couple of years Amanda’s tri career has started to taper off and she narrows her focus.
“I’m a better cyclist than as a triathlete,” explains Amanda. “The running and the swimming got in the way of what I wanted to do on the bike.”
What she wanted to do was cyclo-cross.
Her ‘cross season started back in Las Vegas at Interbike with the unofficial race season opener Cross Vegas. From there she raced locally in Southern California and earned valuable UCI points at the SoCal Cross Prestige Series race weekend in Los Angeles.
As the reining California state champion, Amanda decided to contest the cyclo-cross national elite championships held in Boulder, Colorado. She was toeing the line in two elite races: the single speed and the elite women’s championships.
In the single speed championships “Panda” raced to a podium placing of fourth on a prototype alloy ‘cross frame hand painted for just the occasion. In the main event she was aboard a 2013 Felt F1X cyclo-cross bike and in the pit a 2014 F5X.
Due to her amount of UCI points earned Amanda was able to line up in 32nd place, fourth row, in the starting grid. When the flag was dropped she was able to pick her way through the field to finish in 13th place. Was she surprised by the result?
“The week before the race, Colt McElwaine of ‘Behind the Barriers’ did his race predictions and placed me at 19th. I had a mini panic attack. There was no way I could get in the top 20 and now I was his dark-horse pick!”
It was within the first lap of the race she did a mental count of the riders in front of her realizing that top 20 was achievable.
“As the race went on I gained more confidence, but going into the race I thought top-20 would be an amazing day.”
Being so close to a top-10 result, naturally Amanda has already her sights to improve in 2015.
“Top 10 is my goal for next year. I’m going to try and get some more money to travel to more events (in order to earn UCI points). I need to work for those points and go to those races.”
Amanda’s passion for cycling is evident and it’s a safe bet that a top-10 is within her reach.
Photo credit: Louie Traub