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Barbarella: The Barbara Howe diary
Just as Barbarella bumps through the universe, comically oblivious to the dangers and threats being thrust at her, Barbara Howe has had a few misadventures of her own. But with a stable team and strong results in recent years, the 29 year-old Velo Bella rider looks set to navigate her way to the top of the US 'cross tree, where she hopes to be crowned 'Queen of the 'cross Galaxy'.
Follow the fortunes of this free-spirited individual here on Cyclingnews.
Queen Ann: Spotlight on Ann Fitzsimmons
December 1, 2005
Guys - ever want to know what really happens when two women get together and talk? Barbara Howe gives us an inside look in this week's diary...
The newest addition to the Velo Bella Elite cyclocross team is Ann Fitzsimmons. She currently resides in Morgan Hill, California with her husband Mark. Best known for her downhill exploits, she's making a name for herself as 'cross racer. I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Sunday evening after her second win of the season.
Barbarella: Ok, so let's get through the normal stuff first then onto the fun questions. How long have you been racing bikes?
Ann Fitzsimmons: (long pause). Mmmm... I did my first cross-country race in '98 .
BH: And when did you start racing downhill?
AF:I started in 2003, it was thrilling and I love gravity.
BH: How about the clothing, were you attracted to the non-lycra downhill look?
AF: Actually I don't like downhill clothing at all, I find all the armor and full-face helmet restrictive.
BH: Like a medieval knight?
AF: More like a football player.
BH: What made you decide to focus on 'cross this year?
AF: I like to dismount my bike and I like that ‘cross requires good technique not just fitness. The intensity of the sport is addictive.
BH: When did you first try your hand at road racing?
AF: This past summer. Berkeley Hills was my first race .
BH: That's a bitch of a race .
AF: Yeah, lots of climbing and it was raining.
BH: Let's move on to something more interesting; you are only a few years older than myself, so we went through adolescence in about the same period of history. One of the biggest movies of the grade school years was Top Gun - who was your choice, Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell or Lt. Tom "Iceman" Kazanski?
AF:My choice? Who?
BH: Who do you think was hotter, Tom Cruise or Val Kilmer?
AF: Val Kilmer. He was a jerk but a hot jerk.
BH: Did you ever own one lace glove Madonna style?
BH: So much for that thread. Mine was purple. So you had no lace glove, what was your style?
AF: I had a punk/goth thing going on; lots of black, lots and lots of black and a very white face.
BH: Black eyeliner?
AF: Lots of black eyeliner.
BH: What were you listening to during this period, obviously not Madonna?
AF: The Smiths, Sex Pistols, and The Cure.
BH: Going back a bit further, Cabbage Patch Kid or Match Box Cars?
AF: Neither; I had Star Wars figures. Han Solo was the best.
BH: Han Solo was your favorite human; who or what was your favorite non-human?
AF: Storm troopers, because they are savage, mmm... wait, they're human though. Yoda, because he is wise and has great ears.
BH: Did you have Barbies or GI Joes?
AF: I had some of both. I hated the Barbies; they didn't get played with too often. They were the kind of toy that got left in the sandbox for the winter.
BH: Did you ever watch Buck Rogers?
AF: Oh God yeah. I forgot all about that show.
BH: How about Wonder Woman?
AF: My sister and I watched that all the time. She blocked bullets with her gold wristbands, lassoed guys and made them tell the truth, I loved it. I mean what woman wouldn't want a lasso of truth?
BH: I wanted to be Wonder Woman but my Mom wouldn't let me dye my hair black. Er, anyway l need to move past that now, where were you when Kurt Cobain died?
AF: Goodness, let me think about that a bit, I guess Gilroy (garlic capitol of the world).
BH: Do you think Kurt and Courtney were a good match?
AF: No, they had a kind of Sid and Nancy destructive relationship thing going on.
BH: What color was your favorite flannel shirt and was it cotton or wool?
AF: It was dark colored, dark gray and black cotton; this is California, usually a bit warm for wool.
BH: How long have you been married?
AF:Just over a year so; I guess we are still newlyweds.
BH: Where did you and Mark meet?
AF: At Interbike 2002, he was working for Fox Shox and I was working for Fox Racing Apparel and we met at the outdoor demo day.
BH: I couldn't think a more appropriate place to meet, makes you wonder how many couples meet at Interbike. Was it love at first sight? Did Mark appear as a downhill knight in shining Fox armor?
AF: Yeah it was, it was rad. He is my protectively armored knight.
BH: What was your second bike?
AF: A Trek 820, a goldish colored rigid beast of a bike, it was my second bike and the first one I ever bought.
BH: Do you still have it?
AF: My sister has it now.
BH: There's a great picture of you at the top of the run up in Tacoma holding the bike over your head, was that planned?
AF: No, I was just suffering each time on the run and the crowd got me to the top each time, on the last lap my seat post was broken and if it wasn't for the noise of the spectators I might have walked up the hill. I just wanted to thank them and spontaneously picked up the bike and they went wild.
BH: That's awesome - that's one of my favorite pictures of the season. If you didn't already know, I have a bit of a food obsession. What do you like to eat, or cook?
AF: Pasta, pasta, pasta. I eat so much pasta in so many ways. One of my favorites is pasta with sun dried tomatoes, Gilroy garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, and fresh parmesan. When it comes to ravioli, nothing beats butternut squash filled ravioli.
BH: Nice, that provides the perfect segue way into this week's recipe. Ok, ok it's a bit cheesy but I don't always have tons of time to try out every recipe. This one sounds good and seems simple enough. I'll try to make it in the next few weeks and give a discerning review.