“She’s accomplished, she’s confident, she’s loud, she doesn’t just tell you what you want to hear, she’s consistent in her message, she’s funny, she never lets ego interfere with her mission, and in my opinion, her ability to encourage and inspire others is simply unmatched”. – Paula Evenson 

Experience

Leigh Donovan was the chosen son (even though she’s female) to her dad Mike and groomed to be the first professional female baseball player…however, she had something else in mind. Leigh dabbled in lots of sports as a youngster but found more satisfaction at competing with the boy rather than beating the girls. As she has put it, “beating my girlfriends wasn’t fun, but beating the boys was awesome.” As Leigh developed her athletic skills through playing baseball, attending hours of dance class, years of gymnastics, playing softball, racing at the local roller-skating rink each week, running track (her favorite was the 800 meter) and dabbling in soccer, she never felt totally connected to anything. At age 11, the lights at a local park interested her and she went to check it out. It was the local BMX track to her hometown Orange, CA and it was in that moment Leigh says “I just knew in that moment I was meant to find this place”. After Leigh entered her first BMX race in 1983, she has yet to find anything but bikes thatl give her the excitement, fulfillment, and experience she gains each time she rides. Leigh spent 8 years racing on the BMX circuit and while she when in college, friends invited her to a mountain bike race at Mammoth Mountain in 1992. It was there her life was changed forever. BMX wasn’t a sport that had a future for females (at the time), but mountain biking did, and with that Leigh dropped out of college and put all her energy on being the best she could be. Mountain biking didn’t come as easy as BMX did, so Leigh was forced to study the riders, hire an Olympic level coach and work in the gym with professional trainers. Leigh was a student of those with more experience and knowledge, and after 3 full seasons on the circuit, Leigh joined the best in the world by winning the coveted UCI 1995 World Downhill Championships. That was her breakout year, winning the world championships, while wining both the US National Championships in the dual slalom and downhill too, a triple crown had never been done by an American. Leigh knows so much of the success and confidence on the bike that year came from what she learned off the bike. Leigh knows that one never stops being a student, and that even the best will always learn something new if they are open to it. Today, Leigh brings with her 30 years of competitive cycling experience, a resume that confirms her ability to know what she is talking about, and an enthusiasm that will make learning more fun!

Experience highlights and some human ones

  • 2014 – Mountain Bike Hall of Fame “athlete” inductee
  • 2013 – BMX Hall of Fame “athlete” inductee
  • 9X USA National Champion – Downhill and Dual Slalom
  • 1995 – UCI World Downhill Mountain Bike Champion (Last American women to win this event)
  • 1995 – X GAMES Gold medalist, Dual Slalom
  • 2001 – UCI World Cup Series winner, Dual World Cup Champion
  • 1993 to 2001 & 2010 USA National Downhill Team member
  • 2001 – Winner of Richard Long sportsmanship award, only female to win
  • 1997 – 2002 USA Cycling NORBA Board Member
  • 1998 – Featured in Sports Illustrated “Swimsuit Edition” in a full page advertisement
  • 2000 – Married longtime boyfriend, and still happily married today (-:
  • 2002 – 2011 Owned & Operated successful upscale retail-clothing boutique “Tangerine”
  • 2005 – Became a mother to a beautiful baby girl
  • 2011 – Consulted with Troy Lee Designs to open their Laguna Beach retail concept store
  • 2012 to 2013- Account Executive for the Interbike trade show
  • 2014 – Launched ichoosebikes.com (a skills clinic business focused on getting more riders on bikes safely)